Sexless and the City: The Self-Deprecator

woods-2Photo 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:

Sexless and the City: The Benchwarmers


Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography

“If you can’t say anything nice, text it to the ladies and save it in Notes.” -Me

Watering your own garden can get to be tough work when a woman reaches a certain age and place in life.  I was determined to commit to caring about myself and continue falling in love with myself so damn deeply that it would have to take a really REALLY f*cking upstanding male specimen to get me to say yes to a date.  But alas, while my standards remained high, my expectations were maintaining a low, bottom dweller station…ah the millennial magic.

I started throwing more energy into spending time socializing with friends, out and staying in, just organically making plans and being open to any opportunity that could potentially come my way.  I had a welcome mat…in front of a dead bolted door, but I was open to saying yes to things.  I also really started relishing my alone time to the point where I chose it over other things.  Balance.  The thing I realized was, there are a lot of seemingly great men in this city, but just like most of us never know what the hell to do with our hands when someone says, “Cheese? Smile!” for the camera, these dudes didn’t know what the f*ck they were doing (and neither did I).

Paul* came into the picture as I was sticking to the high standards / low expectations equation and although I didn’t find him super attractive physically, he had good teeth and loved photography seemingly as much as I do so he got a swipe to the right.  We matched, I waited a few hours, messaged him, and he didn’t wait until the last possible clutch second to respond either.  He was already ahead of his “competition”.  A Kentucky born and bred guy, I wasn’t sure where he was going to land on politics, or literally anything, but considered the fact that he was living the good life here in our PNW bubble as a sign that he had liberal leaning tendencies.  This brings us to the month of March (2017, mind you) and I was doing the Whole30 thing…resetting and dealing with more of those food and beverage sensitivities I mentioned in that one episode, where I may or may not have been drugged by Tiny Hands?

So for those of you who have been living under a rock and don’t know, Whole30 is a nutritional “reset” to eliminate five main food groups out of your diet for 30 whole days.  No dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, or alcohol.  Damn.  Aggressive, I know.  You gauge your psychological and physical relationships with food and it’s really effective for most people in figuring out how they can help their bodies thrive through food that agrees with them.  This was my second go around after the first 2016 try and I intelligently stayed hibernating for the first 7-8 days of massive sugar withdrawal.  That’s some monster shit and no one should be meeting strangers when they’re five seconds away from losing it because they can’t eat or drink that.  I’m talking glaring at Girl Scouts at your local grocery store and imagining pummeling them over to savagely steal a box of thin mints to eat in your corner of shame later.  It’s no damn joke.

I met Paul* at The Innkeeper down on 1st Ave (as this episode goes to print, it has been closed and now goes by the name “Jerk Shack” so we have irony being served up stiff which is my fave-pour it in a glass and add a lime, thanks).  I can’t make this shit up people…actually I can, but I don’t even have to so why would I?  I had forewarned him that I was on a special elimination diet and currently not drinking, but was happy to meet him for a soda water and citrus.  Paul* proceeded to tell me that he was actually also on a special diet and doing the Keto thing currently so he could drink, but had to limit his intake.  Having had a little ounce of anxiety having to lay this disclaimer down prior to setting up dates, I was relieved he understood.  Then I realized that I’d just landed myself another filter for weeding out the weak-if a potential date couldn’t understand or be chill with the fact that I was prioritizing my nutritional health over getting buzzed with him, he was out.

Paul* got there first (are we even surprised?  No.  I’ve told you I’m notoriously late and IDGAF).  After finding epic street parking, for freeeee, I rolled in to find him sitting at the bar.  I wore my new 3 3/4 inch black booties strategically.  This was an easy way to size up height when on a date, but dude was sitting so I was totally uncertain for our two hours together and internally screaming to solve the mystery.  He had on a t-shirt and jeans, had hair (BONUS), and tattoos that at first glance weren’t horribly judge worthy (like a barbed wire arm band-yes John or Bill reading this, you should get it removed).  He ordered food and said something to the tune of “I’m bulking and so hungry so I had to order food.”  Okay bro, just don’t talk about Crossfit, mmmk?  My Basic Bitch PTSD can’t hang tonight because I haven’t had alcohol or sugar in 11 days and I just said no to the mini entrepreneurs pushing diabetes filled with hopes and dreams for the 64th time this month…I can’t handle it.  Cal*  ruined me for real on these types.  THANKS.

With the bartender disappointingly delivering my tall soda water with lemon and lime, the date really started and all I was thinking was, “How tall is he?”  and “God damnit, that whiskey smells good.”  “How many more days do I have?”  You get the idea.  Politics came up, not by my lead, and I learned Kentucky boy was a Libertarian and didn’t vote for either candidate, but wrote someone in (I have strong opinions on that one, but held my tongue), was a retired military guy, working in communication systems sales-like the kind that do those big conventions, and had a pug named Atticus after my favorite literary character of young adulthood.  Epic name choice, but turned out Paul* should keep his dog pics to himself.  Atticus was 0% adorable, but I’m sure he had a kind soul.

The date wasn’t totally blah, but nobody was calling the fire department to put out the fire either.  As we ended our 120ish minutes together, he stood and I came to find that even with my heels on, he was still a couple inches taller than me which at this point had become irrelevant because I had already put dude in the probably never going to happen again category.  But, it did feel like a step in the right direction in terms of height.  We said our goodbyes on the street, hugged awkwardly, and he did that whole, “let’s do this again sometime,” dance.  I agreed, but I think we both knew it wasn’t one for the books.  We did actually attempt a follow up date, but then neither of us really tried so it fizzled.  I saw him months later down on Alki Beach while I was sunning my face on a restaurant patio, enjoying lunch and a strong Bloody Mary with my Grandma.  He was skateboarding and Atticus was pulling him on a leash.  I mentioned that I’d gone on a date with that guy and from our table across the street, the cutest thing about the whole scene was by far my Grandma…who then went into a brilliant speech about how women don’t need men and his dog was ugly anyway.  (Mic drop).

Spring continued blooming in Seattle and my dating life was actually budding, but only with the one and done date thing.  When I matched with Brandon*, I was really beaming in that low expectation glow.  I didn’t find him attractive really, but he seemed to have the right credentials so I thought, “Why the hell not?”  We messaged a bit and decided that Kickin’ Boot in Ballard was our Sunday date locale and when I showed up first (now we’re shocked), I was all cozy Sunday dressed since it was a blustery AF March day, yes, wearing a beanie…and he showed up in a bright green The North Face windbreaker (so PNW) with what I’d describe as Sunday Real Estate Broker attire (that wasn’t his line of work).  Not judging, I have brilliantly dressed Real Estate Broker friends (shout out to Matt and Pham), I’m just sharing.  I was sitting at the bar…I’m telling you, it’s the way forward..and he joined me.  I got off my stool to give him a hug and then laughed as I told him it was going to maybe kill me not to order whiskey at a whiskey bar.

We got to talking about his upcoming travel goals and discussed my time in Australia.  Not going to lie, I felt like a travel agent and was starting to daydream about what I’d charge for my trip planning services.  As I told him about where he could look to get flight deals, the cheapest days of the week and times of day to book, I realized he seemed more interested in gathering intel on flight patterns than in me as an actual human.  I was fine with this because I wasn’t really into the opportunity to work with him after this first date either.  We shared a similar life circumstance of having friends who were happily married, friends who were (already) happily divorced, friends unhappily married, friends with kids, very few friends who were still single, and eluded to how tough dating is.  Although we had this and travel lust in common, we weren’t heading to Google Flights to book a joint trip to Aruba.

We sort of hit a plateau and I was eager to get on with the rest of my Sunday.  We walked in the same direction towards our cars, hugged goodbye in the crazy wind, and I went grocery shopping and journeyed home to meal prep.  Monday morning came and as I was sipping my first cup of Joe, I decided to message him in our Bumble convo for taking the time to meet up on a Sunday and drink alone.  He responded with, “Yeah, it was fun and I really appreciate your knowledge on travel and everything.  But I think I’m going to go in a different direction.”  Copy that, Brandon*.  If I’d known I was on a job interview, I would have worn my pencil skirt and pearl earrings.  I mean, I was just being nice, I wasn’t interested in this guy romantically and wasn’t even flirting with the idea of friendship, (let’s be real, when you’re on a dating app, friends isn’t top priority…stay tuned though because there’s more on that to come).  I literally laughed out loud.  Like who was this guy?  It was so business suit and tie, like bro, we were on a date not a conference call, chill.  You can just tell me thanks and take care and we’re golden.  After my research in my own personal March Madness, I realized I had reached a new level in will power because I was actively choosing to stay sober.  On first dates.  And I survived.  If you’re ever losing hope, people, know this: you too, can do really hard things.

There are a lot of great “almost’s” out there.  So many “so close’s”…I felt like I had maybe only scratched the surface in the Seattle dating pool and it seemed…ummm, shallow.  It was starting to feel more like nails on a chalkboard than getting closer to scratching someone’s back.  I started thinking long and hard about what I really wanted…what I was truly seeking in this whole dating thing.  I knew I wanted to be wow’ed by someone enough to feel like a relationship could spark.  I knew I was looking for fireworks and heart sparkles and lady bugs and butterflies and unicorn shit.  I knew I wanted something that felt real.  The trouble was, it was feeling further and further from my reach.  I began to feel like my equation needed some new solutions.  Low expectations just didn’t work for a confident woman who knew herself well enough to know she deserved a whole lot more than what she had gotten before and what she seemed to be getting.  Doubt set in a little…as it does when the weather in Seattle is bipolar and you can’t seem to find a man who will walk Greenlake with you or go to the Farmer’s Market so off you go for the 4,379th time, alone.

I started defining what time spent with this hypothetical human would look like and I honed in on my wants and don’t wants.  I realized settling for a “meh, his credentials are okay,” just wasn’t going to cut the cake anymore.  Because I didn’t want a love found in the shadows of a maybe.  I wanted to find a love that took my sleep away from me for all the right reasons, hurt my face from smiling, was filled with laughing until we cry, sounded like telling secrets in the dark, smelled like maple syrup while we make pancakes in our underwear on Sunday mornings, wanted to sit in silence reading books, getting lost in listening to our favorite music, longed for adventure, and felt like home.  I couldn’t help but feel deep within my bones…if nothing else is, wasn’t that worth waiting for?

Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography

*Name has been changed to protect identity of former date

Sexless and the City: The Creep

woods-35Photo 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 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.


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

Sexless and the City: The Memorizer

beatch-20Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography

“Never put a bra back ON when it’s already been taken off for the night.” -Me

With some much needed re-cooperation time and a new notch in my self-care belt, I went back at it again.  I let my three months of go before 2017 hit.  Why?  Because I went on dates with only two different humans, spent 90 days culling messages and deleting creeps, not to mention having to block three of them.  It’s safe to say I won’t be writing a stellar review of my Match experience anytime soon, the algorithms need work.  Just because CUTIE4U and I enjoy eating out, both love dogs, and neither of us smoke, does not mean we’re a match to be life partners, but thanks for playing.  Seattle Chad* was honestly the most normal name and man I came across.  Some of the names that someone had deemed clever reminded me of my aol Instant Messenger days in high school.  We thought our names were SO cool, spoiler alert: they weren’t.  Three months seemed like a fair trial, I was out.  Bumble was it for me for awhile and I wasn’t going to let The Director ruin my overall experience.

I’m not gonna lie, I went on A LOT of first dates.  Some men were older, some my age, one barely younger.  I left my “younger” in Australia in the form of a curly haired Englishman and decided then and there that THAT much younger (six years and worth every moment) could never happen with an American, sorry not sorry.  I had started to lose track of how many humans I’d started conversations with at this point, messaged some clever line to inside the yellow themed app.  Inevitably, boredom would hit, on their end and/or mine, that’s the name of the game, or I’d get distracted and paint my nails or clean my cottage, re-organize my closet, or couldn’t be bothered to tear my green eyes away from watching Friends for the millionth time.

Somewhere along the way, I actually managed to offend a 28 year old with my first language and realized I’d just locked in a solid opening line which would help me weed out the weak…algorithms can only do so much for you.  “You seem terribly boring 😉  Hi, I’m Hallie.” or some variation became the standard.  Most survived (for a time), while a few perished.  Ain’t nobody got time for anyone who doesn’t speak fluent Sarcasm.  #boybye

Thus far, I’ve only written about three stand outs and by “stand outs” I mean exceptional failures.  There were others, but time has passed and they really don’t seem worth mentioning now.  I assure you, dear readers, I’m not leaving gaping holes open in my dating saga.  This also translates to most of the unmentionables never being first date worthy and ended up being sort of a waste of time to even message back and forth with.  There were, however, some goodies in terms of storytelling that merited longer messaging moments which still resulted in no actual live dates, and a couple who got first dates, gave me the creeps, and were swiftly added to the growth rate of my “reject/almost/whatever the hell you want to call it” pile.

Enter Dex*, the memorizes your entire profile before the first date guy.  Yes, believe it or not, there are those whose online dating strategy is to actually learn your profile information by heart and then toss it in your face like you’re volunteering in a bad carnival booth.  I’ve been a carni…true story and it was WAY classier than Dex’s* apparent A Game; honestly, I’d have preferred all the pie in my face to what he was throwing at me.  This guy, literally started every question with a nod to something he’d read in my 300 character count profile or seen in one of my six photos.  It’s 2017, Dexter*, stalking is so last year.  Please stop.  I knew when I approached him, outside the front door of the bar that I wanted nothing more than to be back home in my shark onesie drinking a bottle of wine and feeling contented to not be on a date.  Truth be told, I deeply and immediately questioned the fact that I agreed to a somewhat last minute date after having come home from work, taken my bra off only to put it back on with semi-cute clothes to go out and meet this guy.  I had already said yes to the drink, I found prime parking, and I felt like I couldn’t run for Mount Rainier without sitting down for a drink.  Plus let’s be real, after the losers and creeps that came before him, could I really afford bad dating karma?  No.

Fremont was the neighborhood this time around and the atmosphere inside The Barrel Thief was my kind of place, it was unfortunate that my date couldn’t be.  I’ll just take this time to say that I realize this whole “dating is hard” thing applies to both parties.  We’ve got introverts trying to be extroverts and extroverts just wanting to be introverts and everyone in between.  We’ve got people raw from their last break up and others who have been single and ready to mingle most of their adult lives (reasons unknown).  We’ve got locals and imports and everyone is freezing because socializing in this city has turned icy AF.  We get all kinds…this is a big city and it’s diverse in all the ways it should be.  So when it sounds like I’m judging, believe me when I say, I’m storytelling based on my personal experience WITH the emotional sensitivity to know that dating is f*cking hard for ALL of us.  Men, women, cat people, prematurely balding folks, BDSM enthusiasts, the socially awkward, the clingy types, everyone.  You get the idea, the list goes on.  Throw a history of mental illness in there, a lifetime of overcoming adversity or being sheltered in small hick towns, freshly wounded hearts, and the like and this city is a breeding ground for dysfunctional first dates and who can judge?  I mean, seriously?  We’re all humans with baggage and we’re just trying to do the best damn job we can to survive and occasionally thrive.  Finding someone to go through the whole beautiful crazy mess with isn’t easy.  When men like Dex* feel the need to memorize short drafts of profiles, I get that it could be the only way he knows how to get through the whole first date thing.  I also reserve the right to strongly feel that I should have stayed home.

This experience happened to be an enlightening lesson in how to really gauge someone’s profile photos.  I learned the red flags and used this insider knowledge in every vetting process from then on.  When a man is mostly wearing sunglasses or a hat in every photo, you can basically rest assured he has shifty eyes and his aviators are hiding something and/or is likely bald or balding; when it’s a twofer, you may as well just swipe left.  Only seeing someone’s facial profile in their photos is also cause for concern, as is when someone can’t smile normally (so I’m told since I failed 100% on that category.  Consult my friends, I drive them crazy with my lack of smiling in photos, I can make a mean silly face though).  False advertising came to mind when I first saw Dex* standing at the door.  He was wearing a really nice wool coat, decent jeans, a graphic tee, and his black shoes were a vast improvement from The Director’s round toe lace ups, but sans sunglasses, there was zero attraction and the first awkward hug made me want to sprint back to my car and bolt.  Again, that dating karma kept creepin’ and I decided I’d have a drink.  We sat near the bar and I was surprised to see the entire establishment pretty busy for a Wednesday.  I ordered my usual and a glass of water.  I can’t recall what Dex* chose for his poison, but I promise, that detail doesn’t matter.  As we sat there, I noticed the thinning hair he had spiked, 8th grade style, and the bulge of his eyes as he was sipping.  He immediately went into question mode.  It had the faint stylings of a job interview, but like, the one where you’re just showing up for practice and you know you aren’t interested in the job…at all.  As I slowly sipped my Old Fashioned, not wanting a buzz at all or even the slightest drop in my coherence, I remember thinking, “How much time has gone by?  When is it appropriate to call it a night?”  This is when replacing batteries in watches comes in handy people.  I am a strict, don’t check your phone on a date person and I think everyone should be too.  So I couldn’t open up and check my lock screen.  My watch collection had literally died at the same time, irony?  So none of my watches worked.  Plus, let’s be honest, checking a watch would have been just as telling (we could even argue rude?) as checking my phone.  I felt stuck.

I let him guide the conversation, not that I had much choice since he’d clearly prepared talking points to get us through the night.  After finishing my second glass of water and pouring a third from the jug the waiter had left on the table, he sort of aggressively commented on the fact that I drink a lot of water.  Ummm?  Is this relevant Dex*?  Why does this need to be highlighted?  Let’s stick to the cards, mmmkay buddy?  If you know me, you know I pretty much wear my heart on my sleeve and in the case of bad first dates, likely wear my thoughts and feelings on my face.  I’m not good at faking anything, well…that’s not entirely true, but you get what I’m saying here.  If I’m into it, you’ll know.  If I’m not into it, you’ll DEFINITELY know.  This applies to almost everything with me.  This becomes a challenge when meeting strangers because I never want to come across as rude in anyway.  I consider myself a kind person and don’t ever want someone thinking I’m terrible if I can help it.  Good impressions count with everyone in my book, even creeps and socially awkward dates.

When we got to dissecting my fourth profile picture, I was pretty certain this guy didn’t know how to do this whole first date thing.  I mean, regardless of how many I’d been on, did I even know how to do it?  I was starting to feel like I’d digressed and maybe learned nothing.  Clearly my “be open and say yes” approach was no longer serving me.  It was time to reassess.  Dex* continued to ask me about skydiving, how crazy I must be to have done that, my time in Australia, why spelling matters so much to me, what my first pet’s name was, the medical history of my extended family, where I grew up, why I’m not smiling in that photo, how I mentioned I like coffee, what book I first learned to read, how to pronounce my name, and once the bright light in the dark room started burning my retinas, I felt like I’d been under the spotlight long enough.  This guy was aggressive, but also maybe nervous?  I couldn’t really tell what was going on here, but I was so committed to leaving as soon as it felt respectful to do so, that I didn’t really care what his deal was.  He had a facial tick and he made this noise periodically that I can’t describe in words.  It would come at the end of a sentence or question, or even after a lingering silence.  Perhaps out of nervousness?  Or there’s a very good chance something else was going on there entirely, I just didn’t know what it was.  We all have ticks and quirks, don’t we?  Some are self induced, others we can’t control, and most are earned over time…mostly through dating failures, amirite?  Regardless of all the things, Dex* and I weren’t going to ride off into the sunset together.

Perhaps the highest tragedy of this particular night, was that I left 1/2 an Old Fashioned on the table; this is how you know it was one of the toughest hours of my life to sit through.  So now we have a different rating system to use in the dates to come…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I was exhausted of being interrogated, judged for staying properly hydrated, and I was annoyed I’d gotten real clothes on to come out.  So much that on the short drive home, the bra came off.  I even unhooked it with one hand.

Dating is a little bit like cultural anthropology; confusing, fascinating as hell, full of unanswered questions and unsolved mysteries, and deeply thought provoking.  The words “Well, we may never know why…” linger on your frontal lobe as you furrow your brow inquisitively and do a face palm for good measure.  Once you’re immersed, you question why you took this road at all; it can be so overwhelming.  That’s the thing about curiosity though, it may have killed the cat, but Alice seemed to have a pretty damn good adventure when she went down the rabbit hole.  Dorothy met some amazing friends and found herself as she learned valuable lessons when she journeyed to Oz.  As humans, we’re drawn to the unknown, it’s where the good shit happens.  So even though dating can be a blackhole and cause a hell of a lot of, “What the f*ck?!” moments, self-doubt, and feelings of loneliness…it can also bring about, “Holy shit! I did that!” moments, intense self-awareness, and feelings of owning your alone time.  It’s never all bad.  It’s growth in some way or another…sometimes I wonder though, if maybe the growth could come at less of a personal cost.

Because after all is said and done, the check has been paid, the goodbyes have been said, you remember what you’re really looking for.  You want someone who will hold your hand and kiss your forehead as much as they touch your ass and kiss your neck.  Someone who wants to go to healthy grocery stores and farmers’ markets with you and meal prep.  Someone who will dance with you in the living room, just because “this is a good song.”  Someone who wants to cook Sunday brunch together in your underwear.  You want someone who wants to listen to vinyl records all day and read by the fire.  Someone who will have the car packed up for a weekend adventure because you’ve both had a long week and he knows you need to get away.  Someone who at the most basic level is interesting enough, safe enough, and has the right chemistry enough for you to sit and finish a drink with on a Wednesday.  If it’s not that and you can’t see it moving towards the other stuff…with two hands or one, you’ve got to unhook the damn bra.

Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography

*Name has been changed to protect identity of former date

Sexless and the City: The Director

woods-26Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography

Me: “How was it?  Ummm, I don’t even know how to talk about it.”

Jo: “Heart sparkles?”

Me: “No.  I’m disgusted.  It’s going to take a while before we can laugh about this one.”

Jo: “Oh shit.  That’s serious.

***Potential trigger warning, please read at your own discretion***

Coming back into the work week hot after a brilliant weekend in Whistler (not Yemen), I was reeling with life (and snow) stoke.  I got back on skis for the first time in 18+ years and rocked it, I was bummed to have missed the Women’s March in Seattle, but was spending time with a bad ass group of women who knew how to own life.  Still taking this “say yes” approach on in all aspects of my life, I decided to continue swiping and bumbling and see what was out there.

It’s no secret that female power seems to be not only blossoming, but flourishing.  As I’ve mentioned before, dating in millennial times, although a complete and utter shit show, (much like 2016/2017 was) can be really empowering and a solid way to get to know someone’s bottom line right out of the gate.  I am grateful for this, however, sometimes when you’ve decided to swipe right on the not so attractive (to you) man who sort of seemed maybe interesting, it back fires.  I am going to take this time to explain that I am generally a very open-minded and open-hearted human.  I accept all people, from all backgrounds, and really try to remain objective and try not to judge…some of these things, just don’t always apply to dating, you guys.  With this newly garnered approach, I was putting good shit into the datingverse though, which felt important, like I was somehow boss ladying my own dating karma.  It was worth a shot, okay?  Don’t judge me.

Real talk though, looks matter. This blog series is titled SexLESS in the City, physical chemistry is an important thing, but so is connecting to a person’s mind.  I wasn’t swiping right based on these guys being handsome/hot alone and I’ll get even more real, I avoided that kind a lot.  I swiped left on guys who had pictures with their shirts off, because really?  Why though?  Props to the beautiful specimens of male out there, but I need more.  Remember what I put in my 300 character count for likes and dislikes?  Yeah, this woman has got no time for cocky, constant selfie taking, gym rat, but always skips leg day dudes that can’t carry on a damn conversation deeper than their recent binge on Netflix.  So as I swiped, I was searching for substance and obviously giving it only as much thought as one can with very little information.  Not everyone uses their character limit to the fullest.  I came upon some not so good-looking, but seemingly decent men that went to the “right” pile.  Saw some red hat wearing, Trump supporting d-bags (spoiler alert: almost all of those ones had a gym or shirtless selfie), and other hell no’s, went “left”.  I also stumbled upon some Christian Grey wannabe’s advertising themselves as Dom’s looking for their perfect Sub.  They added some stats on inches (I’ll let you infer), number of abs they had on their person, “my handcuffs aren’t fuzzy”, etc. with some Google image profile pics, cute.  Faith in humanity dwindling, I also came across a disturbing photo of a dude who literally took the time and effort to not only come up with the idea, but execute on a photo of him lathered with soap, wet in the shower.  Yes, that happened.  Why?  Why do people think this is a good idea?  I’m not singling out men here either.  I have some heterosexual dude friends and they show and tell (holler)…some of the shit that women are posting is embarrassing AF too.  For the love of humanity people, STAWWWWWP.  I have so much to say on this matter, but I’ll save it…there are more episodes coming.  If you’re taking notes at all, write this down and file it: A strong NO applies to the “in the shower selfies” category on social media or dating apps.  Stop it.  Right now.  Please and thank you.  With the brawn on the back burner and the brains on simmer, I matched with a dude who I wasn’t really attracted to via profile photos, but his bio seemed intelligent and self aware-ish so I messaged.

After some “intellectual” exchanges, I agreed to a date.  Witty banter is hard to come by these days, so if nothing else, we had that and I was in need of an adult beverage…I decided to roll with it.  We made a plan to meet up for drinks after work on a Friday (I know, I broke my own “busy and important” rule) and we had messaged back and forth a bit during the day getting some preliminary information out-of-the-way.  Somehow it came down to whether or not I’m a cat person or could ever be a cat person.  I shared that I’m actually allergic to cats and even if I weren’t, they still wouldn’t be my thing, (inner monologue: why is this relevant? Why are we still talking about cats?) Something, something about how his cat is the best kind for non-cat folk.  Ummm?  Strongly feeling like I’ll be spending another Friday night at home sans bra, drinking wine for dinner, and watching Stranger Things, I was close to backing out as the sound of red flags waving in the distance echoed. Not one to hold my tongue, I made fun of the obsession a bit (because zero actual f*cks to give about your cat, bro) and although I wasn’t excited by any means, we decided to meet up anyway and Capitol Hill offered the backdrop again.  Maybe I was bored, intrigued, still hanging on to hope that dating doesn’t suck, it’s hard to say this far removed from it now, but the date happened…in the name of research. I’d created a strategy for this one…close to work, they know I’m going on a date nearby, also on my way home-ish when I decide to bail.  Zero worries, right? Pretty much wrong.

I got there first.  SHOCKER.  Sat up at the bar, started hydrating with water, and quickly texted my friend Cassie that I immediately regretted this decision.  I wanted to be at  home, not meeting some stranger in a new to me bar on a Friday night.  Alas, I was already there.  I told myself I could give it one drink and be done if necessary, there aren’t really any rules and I don’t owe anyone my damn time.  Irony in the form of a bar name: Witness. Great bartenders, strong drinks, not so mind-blowing first date. I was wearing a black Angora sweater, an inherited item from my Nana, that made me feel comfortable, cozy, and a little dressed up.  I had come to realize, that dressing for myself was the only way to go for wardrobe on dates.  Yes, you want to look and feel nice and give a positive first impression, but also, you want to be authentic to you and feel comfortable in your own skin.   He walked in, wearing glasses, fairly bearded, wearing a t-shirt with a fancy blazer over it, dad jeans, and black round toe shoes that boys in my high school wore for graduation.  I could have judged him, but I was thirsty and needed a drink.  The biggest thing I noticed was that he had cat hair on his coat and a receding hairline, also his round toed shoes weren’t the only round thing about him.  Pretty sure my opener was something like, “Hi.  I see you brought your cat with you.  So now I’m allergic to you too.  This is going to be great.”  He laughed.  We ordered.

I’ll call this one Richard* because the short hand for that name seems as fitting now as it did an hour post farewell.  The date lasted four hours, no one was more surprised than me.  But, plot twist!  I was actually enjoying the intellectual conversation.  I kept challenging myself to be in the moment and enjoy connecting with another person, discuss important issues and topics, have a couple of drinks, go home.  Then came the mansplaining.  You know those times when you know exactly what you want and need to do, but you don’t do it?  Yeah, I latched onto this whole “open-minded” approach too hard.  2016 happened to be the year I learned how to trust my gut instincts, 2017 was the year I learned how to actually follow through.

This guy was a film director, had worked with some known names (just ask him), Anna Faris to name one and some Kristen Stewart drama was shared…no joke, he literally directed our entire date as if it were a film. Insert eye rolls here. He went as far as to say that my face “with that beauty mark and those bangs” would be “perfect on camera”.  Nah, Dick* my film days are behind me.  He asked me some personal questions which I declined to answer, “but can I interest you in a sarcastic comment, sir?”  We shared some well-intentioned humor, more comments about film, blah, blah, blah.  I started to feel like he was trying to gather intel to write his next screenplay.  Through all this, he’s stating, “This is going really well” and “We’re having a great time,” like who are you trying to convince here buddy? Meanwhile, I’m drowning in my glass thinking, “Are we even on the same date?”  No.  When we reached about 3:46 on the time clock, I was pretty done.  This guy was trying every angle (technical term here), to get into my head and probably, definitely into my pants.  After much insisting that it wasn’t necessary, which I actually f*cking meant, he walked me (followed me?) to my car.  Literally, I was walking ahead of him trying to hint that the night was over, time to say goodbye.  I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to get home, take off my bra, eat some food, and never talk to this guy again.”  Then it got worse.

I could feel him staring at me as I walked ahead of him.  Calling him on it, annoyed, but still trying to be kind, “Can you stop staring at my ass?  Seriously, obvious much? I’m going home…alone and we can say goodbye here.”  He laughed. So I stopped, he caught up.  I was prepared to thank him for coming out to meet me, hug him goodbye and be on my way.  Then…he kissed me.  I gave zero invitation, nary a sign through verbal, eye contact, or body language that a kiss was on the horizon for the final cut (another technical term).  He took over my face.  I couldn’t help but think of that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte ends up with bruises on her chin from a dude that needs a serious lesson in kissing etiquette.  “He raped my face!” she exclaimed over eggs the next morning.  Not far off from how I was feeling on Harrison Street, in the chilled night air, with witnesses.  I think I was in shock.  It’s one thing to be spontaneous, open-minded, open to challenging yourself to be out there in the world, it’s another thing to be vulnerable and feel uncomfortable.  Also worth noting, the concepts can begin opposing one another and change in an instant.  I want to take a very important moment to say how grateful I am that nothing worse happened.  That it was just some unwarranted kissing and I was able to get in my car and make my way safely home. I’m fortunate that’s where it ended for me. The entire drive home included feeling sick to my stomach, violated, gross, stupid…you get the idea. I had a serious case of the “what the f*ck’s?!” As I walked in my front door, he texted me saying, “last chance to send me your address.”  Nah, Dick* never, bye.  I’m going to Post Mates a Dick’s burger and fries (extra sauce) and because I endured your chauvinistic ass for what turned out to be four hours too long, I’m throwing in a chocolate shake too. I triple locked my doors, checked them again for peace of mind (note: he had no idea where I lived, but that’s how creeped out I was) and watched a Disney movie so I could feel innocently happy again. I feel immense gratitude that I was in a populated place, at a still early Friday night hour, strategically parked close to where I met him, in a well-lit garage, and had friends texting me throughout the date.  Even though contingency plans are a modern woman’s MO, it doesn’t make male insistence, entitlement, or taking what he wants in a moment okay.  Ever.  At all.  Never.

When I woke up the morning after my face was kissed by a man I never wanted to see again, I got mad.  Like shaking, Irish blood boiling, mad.  At him, at myself.  Because even when you’re covering all your bases: lighting, people around, phone and keys at the ready, nothing is guaranteed.  Still to this day, if I see a bearded bear of a man standing at a bus stop or walking through my local grocery aisle, I shutter and feel like I may vomit.  I’ve actually felt sick to my stomach all day writing and editing this because it’s hard to rehash it, remember how violating it all felt, how I blamed myself and asked myself what I did or what signs I gave off to merit his behavior.  But this series is about the real shit, as it happened, and I also had to purge it from my life.  Honesty matters…so does consent; it’s f*cking important.  Even for a goodnight kiss.  Read the cues dudes, notice the signs.  Strong, independent women, make it pretty easy for you to understand whether we’re into it or not.  PSA:  PAY ATTENTION.  We’ve done enough breaking it down for you over the I don’t know, CENTURIES and we’re damn tired.  Also, even though this post isn’t specifically about consent or the Time’s Up movement, or #metoo, can we just take a moment to feel outraged that women even have to think about lighting other than for an effing selfie?  Or that we have to have our keys at the ready (knowing it’s a good go-to from college self-defense class)?  Or that we need to share our locations on our phones with our amazing besties during a date?  Or the added bonus of having to strategize a well populated area or surrounding areas for pre and post date commuting?  It’s actually ridiculous.  So for the love of all the gods, since we’re already worrying about whether or not it was even a good idea in the first place to take that “open mind/open heart” approach to set a date and stick to it, despite the fact that you’re showing up in cat hair which I’m allergic to, making a poor attempt at a directorial debut in a dimly lit bar, while I’m actively watching my drink, scanning the area and making eye contact with bartenders and other patrons so they are aware I’m in the sphere and can sense if anything really goes off…timing my bathroom breaks between drink refills, literally thinking of EVERY safety precaution in existence, can you NOT mansplain things to me or take over my face when I gave you zero hints or welcome mats to do so?!  Cool!  Thanks!

Mic drop.  Rant over.  (For now).

As my morning after melted into the afternoon, I had an appointment to see my amazing hair stylist and friend for a bang trim.  Naturally I was telling her my current life story and my experience from the night before with Dick* the Director came up.  Upon further details provided, she informed me that she not only knows this guy, but that her husband WORKS WITH HIM.  I realize the Seattle film world isn’t LA, it’s small, but this was rich.  I proceeded to tell her over uncomfortable laughter the events of our date when she was like, “Oh my god.  If I had known you matched with him I would have told you to RUN!”  If only.  She proceeded to tell me that as far as she knew him, the “resume” he had given me and the actors he’d worked with that he named dropped were accurate (not that either of us cared), and that he seemed to her like a generally decent guy, but she knew he’d had a bit of a complicated past with his most recent girlfriend and showed a dark side.  “Hallie, he literally was directing her in a movie, she broke up with him during filming, he re-wrote the script, and he killed her off.”  Noted.  Dick* doesn’t take criticism well.  I heard from him the next day while I was still in the styling chair and all he said was, “…good talk.”  Grim.  Much like the night before.  Passive aggression not being my strong suit, I ignored, deleted, unmatched, and took serious stock of my self-care.

Realizing that dating can be scary and confusing AF, I decided to take a recovery break. This resulted in some next level introverted behavior; wine, sweatpants, venting to my girlfriends, processing, dairy free ice cream (because food sensitivities) and lots of deep breaths. I even got back into yoga. As shitty as dating can be, it can also turn out to be the gift that keeps on giving because you know you don’t need it. You’re a f*cking woman…a warrior, a survivor of life, love, and all the crazy, beautiful adventures in between.  When dating is fun, it’s worth doing. When it ceases to feel exciting and motivating, you stop for a while. Because you know you’re a catch, you know you’re worth waiting for, you know you deserve every ounce of respect possible, and you know that the nausea eventually fades.  You take a look in the mirror, put on your big girl panties, and keep marching…because if Carrie Bradshaw won’t settle, then damn it, neither will you.

Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography

 *Name has been changed to protect identity of former date

*If you feel called to donate to the Time’s Up fund, please do so here.

*If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or assault, find resources here.