Monday, February 24, 2014

You Know You're Getting Older When...

1. You spend more time drinking coffee instead of beer.

2. You say things like, "When I was your age..." and "Kids today..." and "I can't believe people are piercing that now."

3. The sugary cereals that you enjoyed when you were a kid now make you physically sick. (This happened to me the last time I ate Froot Loops. That same night, I had a nightmare that the Kardashian sisters attacked me. Coincidence? I think not.)

4. On the rare occasions that you go to dance clubs, you keep saying, "It's so LOUD in here!" and "Is that girl wearing shorts or underwear?" and "I don't think what they're doing is even legal!"

5. You say to yourself, Thirty is the new twenty, as you fall asleep before 10 P.M. on a Friday night.

6. You get mad at certain men your age who only want to date women who are ten years younger.

7. You replace your piggy bank with a retirement fund.

8. You subscribe to Good Housekeeping instead of Cosmopolitan.

9. When you were a teenager, you thought twenty-two-year-olds were old. But now that you're older, you look at twenty-two-year-olds and think, They look so young.

10. When you were younger and you dated a guy you really liked, you thought, I wonder how he feels about me. When you're older and you date a guy you really like, you think, I wonder how he feels about me...and I wonder how he feels about having kids.

11. If you're single, people keep asking you when you're getting married and remind you that your biological clock is ticking, as if you can't hear it pounding in your head EVERY SINGLE DAY.

12. If you're married, people ask when you're going to have kids, when you're going to have more kids, or when you're going to take their advice about how to raise your kids.

What about you? What makes you feel older?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day When You're Single...and in your 30s

1. Try not to think about Cathy from the comic strip, who was known for being single but eventually got married, because that means even a comic strip character is ahead of you.

2. When your mother calls to tell you about ANOTHER woman your age (or younger) who's getting married, tell her, "Yes, she may be getting married, but does SHE know all the lyrics to every one of Britney's hit singles? So it's not like I haven't accomplished ANYTHING in my thirties."

3. Watch episodes of Sex and the City, because although it did focus on the women's pursuit of love, it also showed that being single in your thirties wasn't the worst thing in the world.

4. When your unrequited crush starts talking to you, imagine that he's Honey Boo Boo giving an interview, so that you're much more likely to cringe and walk away quickly.

5. Eat some of the candy that goes on sale after Valentine's Day, and then go to the gym so that you don't have to feel guilty about eating all that chocolate.

6. The next time some creep on the street yells out something profane to you, yell back, "I've already picked out the names for our children!" Then laugh as he runs away.

7. Hang out with your other single friends and rant about all your married friends.

8. Compose a new online dating profile that says stuff like, "I'm looking for a guy who is okay with the fact that I will never be a size 4" or "I'm looking for a 30-something guy who actually accepts the fact that he's getting older and doesn't reject all the 30-something women for all the 20-something women" or "I'm looking for someone who I can grow old and mock people with."

9. Think of all the wrong guys that you dated, and congratulate yourself for not ending up with any of them.

10. Make a list of all the things that make you happy, so that you don't have to focus as much on the one thing that's missing from it.

What about you? Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? And if you do, how are you going to celebrate it?

Monday, February 3, 2014

(Mis)Reading the Signs

A couple months ago I wrote about a guy that I had a crush on, who snubbed me. But he recently said some things and acted in a way that made me think that maybe he did like me. I won't specify what they were, but I thought maybe he was flirting with me.

I've never been very good at reading those signals. In Chicago, I routinely get harassed. Some creeps are aggressive; not only will they yell out profane things to me, they'll lunge at me (some succeeded in grabbing me, and a lot of screaming and running on my part was enough to shake them off). It annoys and scares me. Stuff like that doesn't just happen to me; it happens to a lot of women, not just in Chicago, but everywhere. That makes me keep my guard up, so that I keep my head down, avoid eye contact with strangers (some creeps view eye contact as an "invitation," which it's NOT, at least not for me), and I don't talk to strangers who hit on me.

When the nice guys, like my crush, flirt in much more subtle, less aggressive, and not-at-all creepy ways, my guard is still up and I usually miss the signals they're sending. More than one guy has flirted with me (one guy even casually asked me out), and I didn't even realize it until it was too late.

I've never been very good at flirting. It's difficult for me to ask a guy out in person. I've done it in the past. A few guys said yes, but more guys said no. It was easier to express interest in a guy when I was doing the online dating thing. At least on a dating website, most people's intentions were clear: they were online because they hoped to meet someone they could date. So after exchanging a few e-mails with a guy, it was easy to invite him for coffee or dinner (or sometimes he'd ask me out first), because from the first wink or e-mail we'd already made it clear to each other that we were interested.

But my crush wasn't someone I met online; like I said before, he's someone I've known for a while. I didn't even see him in that way until recently. When it seemed like he was flirting with me, I hinted that I was interested too.

I kept making excuses for why he hadn't asked me out. He's busy with work. Maybe he's as shy as I am. Maybe he thinks I'm not interested. After a while, I thought to myself, He's NOT as shy as I am, and I've known him long enough to know that for a fact. If he really liked me, he would have just come right out and said it. But he never did.

I started going back over all our most recent conversations and saw everything (including him) in a new light. Maybe he did like me. Maybe it was just a flirtation that didn't mean anything to him. But it meant something to me, and I felt angry and foolish for thinking that it meant more to him.

My first reaction was to lie in my bed with the shades drawn and replay Adele's songs. I also couldn't help resenting him, even though he didn't do anything wrong. He can't help what he doesn't feel. As they say, he's just not that into me, and I'm just not the type of woman to try and change his mind.

Even though I have dated more guys than I care to count, I've also been rejected by many more guys, particularly on online dating sites. I built a wall around myself for protection, not just from the creeps out in public, but also from the guys I liked who didn't like me back. Due to all those rejections, I even pushed away the nice guys that were interested in me because it was difficult for me to believe that they could like me. So I felt angry at my crush for breaking through that protective bubble I kept around myself. He was the first person I felt anything real for in a long time.

When I finally started to think that nothing would ever happen with him, the walls started going up again. I started to avoid him. Being a workaholic is comforting sometimes, because I can withdraw into my work and escape from those feelings that make everything complicated. It's how I kept my heart closed off for so long.

But one good thing about this whole situation is that my crush on this guy is proof that that part of me is still alive. So it didn't work out with him, but maybe it'll work out with someone else. Maybe I'll join another dating site eventually, or maybe I'll try going to more events around the city and meet someone that way. Or maybe there ISN'T someone out there for me, and at least that way I can focus on my work, which truly is and always will be my passion. You don't have to be unmarried to be successful, of course, but I do know of many successful, happy workaholics out there who stayed unattached. Maybe I'll be one of them. Or maybe not.

What about you? If you're single, what do you think of flirting? If you're in a relationship, did you flirt with your significant other (or vice versa), or was one of you more direct and just asked the other out?