In January I decided to join OkCupid because I like making profiles and I was bored. I also just wanted to see what would happen. This turned out to sort of be a mistake (NO WAY) – I went on an “accidental” date with someone, had a massive panic attack and basically just freaked the fuck out all over the place for 3 days. I was not ready. My heart still belonged to somebody else and I am loyal to a fault. I also just wasn’t into this dude at all and had no idea how to say so because he was nice, and that scared me.
Am I ready now? Hell no. But will I ever be ready? Also: hell no. You’re never ready to lose the person you love most. You are never ready to find out that they’re kind of not who you thought they were (and also kind of exactly who you thought they were). But I was forced to go through that, so I might as well force myself to go through this too. It’s the only way things will ever get better. It’s the only way that I still might not die alone. I may not be ready but I might as well start trying. Things can’t get any worse than they already are, and the more practice I get the more ready I’ll be down the line, if something ‘real’ ever comes along again.
And so I decided to join every single free dating site that I could find. For science. Now, I know that online isn’t the only way to meet people, and I’m certainly not ruling out my real life options. There is actually a guy I know in real life who I like quite a lot, but he probably has a girlfriend and I also just found out that he’s about 5000x more successful than I thought he was (and I already thought he was pretty successful, so basically he’s way out of my league). So I can’t count on that either.
This is going to be a little series, because my blog needs an injection of humour every now and again. And I can actually be quite funny when I’m not too busy hating everything!
Today I’m going to tell you what this experience has taught me about myself so far.
1. I have a type.
This may be obvious to most people, as most people know what kind of person they like. I have never felt like I had any kind of type. If I had a type, it would be “guys who I am already friends with.” And I do pride myself on this fact – I place an extremely heavy focus on personality and compatibility. Generally I can’t even tell if I’m attracted to someone without interacting with them for a while. It took me 2 years to figure out that I was attracted to my first boyfriend (we did meet when we were 13, but still). It took about a month for the most recent guy. So I just assumed that I’m not shallow in the slightest. Also contributing to this assumption was the fact that most of the people around me disagreed with my opinion of my first boyfriend (at the time that we met; he’s hot shit now). I was all, “Oh yes, I am so intellectual and sensitive and above such things.”
But after going through hundreds upon hundreds of photos, I can say that I DO have a very clear physical type. I’m still shallow, just in a different way from a lot of girls. Most girls I know are into the whole “tall, blonde, muscular, and hairless” thing. There is probably no faster way to turn me off than by being tall, blonde, muscular, and hairless. ESPECIALLY the blonde and hairless. And to be fair, blonde hairless guys probably don’t like me much either. Most guys don’t want a girl with more body hair than them. And similarly, I don’t want a guy with LESS body hair than me. I want a MAN.
Taller than me, yes, but not scary tall, dark hair, preferably with some stubble and kinda scruffy (or at least the proven ABILITY to grow facial hair), but not like full on bearded, snazzy dresser, hipster glasses and non-threatening, meangingful tattoos are a plus. That’s my type. [Did I just say ‘snazzy dresser’? Like I know that I’m typing this and so am making a conscious decision but I just typed the first thing that came into my mind. Really?]
You may be thinking – Chelsea, you literally just described your ex-boyfriend. Is this really news to you? Well, you are right, but yes, it is news. Because I kind of thought it was just the one dude, not ALL the dudes. This is what happens when you’re attached to one person for a super long time. I know NOTHING.
2. I suck at talking about myself (and I suck at talking about other people even more)
Generally speaking I LOVE talking about myself. I have an ENTIRE BLOG where I do nothing BUT talk about myself. But when guys are asking me questions, even nice questions, like, “So what do you do for mental health?” I get defensive. I think I automatically assume that whatever I say isn’t going to be considered impressive enough. I also feel like my life is just too complicated to explain. For example, someone was telling me about having to give away a pet. I wanted to respond by telling him that I used to live one of my exes, and he had a cat, and now we’re broken up and I miss the cat, therefore I know how hard that is. All of that is kind of confusing, no? It’s also not really something you want to bring up early into a conversation with a new guy. At least 75% of my stories are like this. The entire 2 years I was with the boyfriend I lived with? Can’t talk about. My mental illness and traumatizing high school experience? Nope. The nearly 10 years I’ve spent dealing with this one guy/my best friend who oh yeah is still around? Haha can’t talk about that either. So what CAN I talk about? Basically nothing.
This makes me extremely boring. So I try to deflect the conversation back to them, but I’m bad at thinking of questions, and I just can’t bring myself to genuinely care about their responses. And either because of that, or because they don’t like talking about themselves either, they keep asking me questions, and around and around we go.
I guess you could call this “conversation.”
3. I’m not as honest as I thought I was
I’ve always been proud that I am completely honest with everyone. Over the past couple of years that’s slipped a little, but I didn’t see it as a reflection of myself as a person.
In the past, I had no problem speaking my mind during conflicts. And if their feelings were hurt? Well then, they shouldn’t have done whatever they did to me in the first place.
I thought that just came naturally to me. But it doesn’t. I’m like that with those people because I met them when I was basically still a child. And when I was 13, I cared a lot less about hurting people’s feelings and the dumb things I care about now. I’m still like that with people I have known for a while, but when it comes to new people I walk on eggshells and I’m afraid to truly be myself.
This is especially true in the dating universe, which is brand new to me and it feels like there’s a lot of expectation – guys expect me to be a certain way. I could be wrong, but I feel like they expect me to be cute, smart (but not too smart), funny in a basic way, and most importantly, down to move things along very quickly. I don’t even mean sexually, although there is that too. They’ll give me their number and tell me to text them or ask me to meet up after only exchanging a few messages for a day or two.
And, like with Nice Guy at the beginning of this post, I feel obligated to say yes. These people are being nice to me and giving me attention – giving me what I want but very rarely receive from the people I actually know.
But, when I moved out of the apartment I shared with my then-boyfriend 2 years ago and uprooted my life, I promised myself that I would never again be with someone who didn’t at least accept everything about who I am. It started with me pretending that I didn’t care about my first ex, because my new boyfriend couldn’t accept the idea that we loved each other once and basically forced me to say that it was never real.
I thought that was the only issue with that relationship, but it wasn’t. He gradually became more critical of other things about me, like the outfits I wore, my posture and eating habits (which admittedly are both terrible but I don’t enjoy having my flaws pointed out constantly), the way I handled social situations that had nothing to do with him. And all the while I pretended like he was right, that I needed to change, and never said anything. Until I left, which came as a huge shock to him.
I need someone who accepts all of those little things, and I need someone who can deal with the complex relationship that I have with my first boyfriend. They need to understand the whole, “You never forget your first love,” thing, because it is very true (though it doesn’t make me feel better – he likes to say this a lot as if it’s supposed to). Bros before hoes am I right? Or…bros before bros…I don’t know. The point is, our friendship is really important to me and anyone in my life e needs to understand that that’s part of me, not just something I can denounce and then toss out the window.
I’m learning to talk about the weird things and just be who I am. Yes, there are people who will assume I’m hung up on my ex just because we lived together 2 years ago. There are people who will assume that I’m broken and “crazy” because of my depression. But those people don’t matter. They may be numerous, but they don’t matter.
And I’m learning to say no. I’m learning that it also doesn’t matter if someone is nice to you or they’re giving you attention. If you don’t feel anything, or they’re doing it in a way that makes you feel lesser than or uncomfortable, it’s okay to walk away and that doesn’t make you rude or selfish or mean or what have you. And no matter what, no one owes anything to someone they just met.
I knew it then, even if I didn’t want to admit it, and I know it now – even though it’s harder at the time, it’s SO much better to speak up, be yourself, and demand enough respect from someone that they can accept that. Because I really don’t want someone who doesn’t any more. I want a partner and a friend, who builds me up instead of tearing me down. And it’s going to take a combination of bravery, honesty, and hard work to find that again.