It Must Be Love!...or maybe not

A single woman's not-quite-bitter diatribe on dating, men and relationships in San Francisco.

Monday, November 27, 2006

When does "I love you" come too late?

While other couples are declaring their love like it’s no big deal, for some of us, it is a big deal. And the waiting game makes it an even bigger deal. The problem is that I know M. Perfect loves me, but he just won’t say it. How do I know? Because he told me so after a night of clubbing when he was rather drunk…in vino veritas.

M. Perfect: My brother had a good time tonight. He was even talking to some girls. [delivered in a slurred drawl]

Me: What?! Your brother? He’s married!

M. Perfect: Oh, not like that. He was just chatting. He’s totally in love with his wife. Just like me.

Me: You’re in love with your brother’s wife? [ever the smartass]

M. Perfect: No, someone else.

Me: Let me stop you right there. Perhaps you should have this conversation when you’re sober.

So unless he’s still in love with Ms. Ghost, hopefully that means he’s in love with me. But this conversation took place over a month ago, and still no sober confessions.

On Thanksgiving, I almost accidentally blurted out those three little words. We were cooking dinner for his family and it was almost 2 in the afternoon and M. Perfect had gone out to buy last minute groceries. He came back with groceries, of course…and a cup of coffee. Such a little gesture, but I was sooo happy. I’m addicted to my morning coffee and it was already 2 in the afternoon and I was starting to have withdrawal.

I jumped up from the couch, grabbed the coffee, and said, "I love…" Then I realized what I was about to say and panicked. What do I do? What do I say now? And the longer I thought about it, the longer the pause. And then the voice in my head said, "Just say something!" So I finished my statement with "this coffee." Yep. "I love…(long pause) this coffee."

Stupid, huh? How could I almost blurt that out? Well, it’s rather simple. I’ve said those three little words so many times in my head that it seemed so natural. Out loud to M. Perfect is of course slightly different. I don’t know if he noticed or not. Guess I’ll ask him one day if he ever decides to actually tell me he loves me. In the meantime, I’ll just keep on waiting…

Thursday, November 16, 2006

When does “I love you” come too soon?

You always hear about these whirlwind romances – boy meets girl, boy asks girl out, they go out on one date, fall madly in love, and live happily ever after…or some variation of this fairytale. One of my good friends is a “good guy” (see previous post) and he’s been looking for “The One” for the last year or so…and I mean, really really looking. He’s also extremely picky and Asian, so he’s very screwed. 1) There’s not a lot of Asian girls that meet his standards, and 2) There’s not a lot of hot Asian girls that want Asian boys.

But he finally found one and she’s adorable and I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more than he does. He saw her on MySpace, thought she was cute and started chatting her up online. They went out on one date and have been inseparable ever since.

When I had dinner with him the other night, I asked if he had said “I love you” yet. And he had, but she actually said it first. I was shocked; a girl saying “I love you” first seems like a such a cliché and breaks all the rules that we live by. It gets even funnier…

Me: Wow, she said ‘I love you’ first?

Mr. Good Guy: Yeah, she said it accidentally. We were just chatting about and she just blurted it out.

Me: When was this?

Mr. Good Guy: A week after we started dating.

(My jaw drops to the floor at this point. When I pick it up, we continue the conversation…)

Me: Did you say it back?

Mr. Good Guy: No, I wasn’t ready.

Me: That must have been really awkward. What did you say?

Mr. Good Guy: That I really liked her, but wasn’t ready to say it just yet.

Me: So when did you finally say it?

Mr. Good Guy: (Laughs) Later that day.

I don’t know what I find the most surprising – that she said it first, that he didn’t say it back, that it was a week into the relationship, or that he said it later that day. Can you really know if you love someone a week after you met them? On the flip side, can you date someone for 9 months and not say “I love you” as McDreamy did (see previous post)? When does “I love you” come too soon?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Dealbreakers

Whenever we date someone new, we look for the dealbreakers...the tell-tale signs that send us running for the nearest exit. But are dealbreakers really dealbreakers if we meet Mr. Right?

In the beginning, our dealbreakers just help us weed out the freakshows, criminals, and sleazebags (although not so much in my case):

  • Asking us to pay for dinner because he ran out of cash (or some other lame excuse)
  • Answering his cell phone during the date (he’s not that important)
  • Bad table manners (was he raised by wolves?)
  • Littering the conversation with four-letter words (learn to use your words!)

Once they get past the initial three dates or so, we start thinking about them in terms of long-term potential. Do they have any dealbreakers for us? Do we have any dealbreakers for them?

Mine:

  • If he wants to have children
  • If he wants to have LOTS of children
  • If he doesn’t love dogs
  • If he lacks ambition

M. Perfect’s:

  • If his family hates her
  • If his friends hate her
  • If she dresses poorly

Now that I’ve decided M. Perfect is Mr. Right, is it still a dealbreaker that he wants to have children? Not just one, but 3 children! Not surprisingly, the answer is “no”.

There are no dealbreakers once Mr. Right comes along. And it’s not just me…my roommate has a strict “meat eater = dealbreaker” policy that she is considering rescinding given that her Mr. Right has entered the picture.

Those who are not willing to compromise – my friend who must raise her children Jewish and disallows any pork in the house, my Asian friend who must marry another Asian to appease her mother, my friend that must marry someone who makes at least $250,000 – may look back and regret losing their Mr. Right to someone who views a relationship as a partnership, not a dictatorship.

The only dealbreaker that should last and the only reason to walk is if he/she doesn’t make you happy.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

“I love you. You’re perfect. Now Change!”

If you see my friend Meredith these days, she’s in this constant state of bliss. Nothing could really ruin her mood. Meredith is either cooking for M. Perfect or he’s cooking for her. They go on dates. They talk about vacations together in the distant future. Some are even happening a year from now!! They spend weekends at M. Perfect’s dad’s place. Meredith picks up M. Perfect’s laundry while M. Perfect picks up a laptop screen cleaner for Meredith. Sounds like a couple to me!! M. Perfect and Meredith are exclusive and only seem to have eyes for each other these days. Exclusivity is important especially while trying to evaluate if a person is the “one”. This would push both people to think realistically about the relationship and really go through the four phases of relationship evolution. I think it’s about time to discuss those.

Phase 1. “He’s perfect.. He could do no wrong…”

When we first fall in love, everything that the new boy does is just absolutely perfect!. We love everything about him. Even those things that we usually find very annoying, are actually ok in this case.. During those first few months of ultimate dating bliss, I’ve heard girls say: “he’s so cute, licks his fingers clean after picking food off of my plate”, “Absolutely love how he can not make up his mind and calls me to discuss”, or “He’s so spontaneous, will pay whatever when he’s gotta have something!”. Ummm.. some things may be cute and some are just pure flags that we ignore because we’re so overwhelmed by the flutter of the butterflies in our stomachs!!

Phase 2. “How did I ever think that his non-planning, non-committal ways are actually cute and charming?”

After the butterflies manage to find a place to rest. We start thinking that the guy has changed.. that the true him is coming out. In reality, we were oblivious to the true him when we were first dating. We’re so taken by the novelty of it that, frankly, has nothing to do with the boy. It’s the novelty that comes with starting anything new. Now we see the flags, and some of these flags are in direct opposition to our preferences, even to our values. What should we do?? Do we start running the other way? Well, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t real substance to this person we’ve fallen for. Usually we end up compromising on these little issues. We learn to deal with them because we think that this guy is worth it.

Phase 3. “He wants kids????”

Oh my god! What happened?? How come we never discussed this early on? Well, at this point you’ve gotten to know the guy well enough to start having a real appreciation for their beliefs, values, future dreams, and all those very important things that make up a person! Some, obviously, are not going to line up with our line items. This is when fundamental discussions take place. This is where the threat of a real break up looms. A mix of shock and worry about losing yourself in a relationship will usually stand in your way of evaluating what matters and what doesn’t.

Phase 4. “I love you. You’re perfect. Now Change!!”

If you’ve stuck around this far, you’re at a point where you’ve gotten over your shock and you’re ready to remember all the real things that you actually love about this boy. He’s really great in all these other ways but we need to figure out how to deal with those few things that we don’t think we can live with! You might be wondering if you’ll have to do all the changing and compromising. Of course not. If he’s a good guy, he too will be going through this phase thinking about what really matters and where he could compromise and make concessions.

Basically, all relationships go through these four phases. The tricky part is the timing of these phases. Some people get married before going through all those phases which means that if going through phases 3 and 4 is unsuccessful, this may lead to an ugly divorce and much heart break. From talking to many women, it seems like going through all phases takes around 18 to 30 months. Obviously, this may vary depending on circumstance. So make sure you’re aware of where you’re at and don’t jump into even a more serious commitment too soon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You, Me and Bunny Makes Three

It’s not a typo. I actually do mean “You, Me and Bunny Makes Three”…not “You, Me and Baby Makes Three.” This past weekend M. Perfect and I took his little niece to Toys ‘R Us so she could pick out her own birthday gift. She’s absolutely adorable…curly blond hair, perfectly round face, well-mannered in a way that only well-bred children can be…a little fashionista with her cowboy boots and denim skirt. If I wanted kids, she’d be exactly what I would want. But did my uterus skip a beat? Not exactly, but it did cringe a little. Perhaps it’s the life stage I’m at or perhaps it’s a life choice, but I’ll take bunnies over children any day.

Of course, I don’t mean the Bugs Bunny kind of bunny. I mean “The Rabbit” kind of bunny. And it’s a fantastic and magical day when you introduce your guy to your Rabbit. You hope that any reasonable guy will invite The Rabbit into your late-night activities, rather than freak out about your extracurricular activities. And M. Perfect did not disappoint.

For any woman who has trouble reaching “The Big O” during intercourse (which is almost every woman I know), this is a viable alternative. No more staying at home or hiding to play with The Rabbit in private. No more sex without an orgasm. Now we really can have our cake and eat it too.

M. Perfect was pretty pleased too, and that’s how a good guy should feel about your first orgasm, even if it came with a little help. He is absolutely the most fantastic lover ever, but it’s just really hard for me to have an orgasm. He’s so good it takes my breath away…just thinking about it makes me want to stop writing and call him up for a booty call. Wait, I digress. Anyway, when we included The Rabbit in our repertoire, it took all of 10 seconds. Let me repeat, 10 seconds. And that was the first one. The second one was even better and lasted for what felt like minutes. Okay, I’m getting pretty distracted now, so let me leave you with a few concluding remarks.

You, Me and Baby = Three’s a Crowd

You, Me and Bunny = Three’s Company

Now there’s a ménage-a-trois I can get down with...or get off with.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Definition, Not Love, Makes the World Go Round

Well, it’s official…M. Perfect and I are a couple. It took a long, long time, but we’ve finally defined the relationship. We spent the weekend at M. Perfect’s dad’s home with most of his family and everything was perfectly couplehood bliss. We had all gone grocery shopping together, cooked together, had a picnic, and generally enjoyed having a low-key weekend chatting and hanging out.

On our way home, M. Perfect confessed that his ex, Ms. Ghost, had only hung out with his family twice. I was shocked…in two years, she had only met his family twice. I had already spent two weekends at his dad’s, met his mom once, and hung out with his brother a handful of times. This seemed promising. If he’s comfortable with me hanging out with his family, did this mean he was ready for more?

Later that night, we finally had the defining the relationship (DTR) talk (again):

Me: So tell me about your last date…

M. Perfect: It was a while ago. Probably about two months ago. What do you want to know?

Me: How did it happen? Did you ask her out? Did she ask you out?

M. Perfect: Usually through friends of friends. One of us might say, “We should grab dinner sometime,” but I never wanted anything to happen. It was just nice meeting new people. I would tell them that I was already seeing you.

Me: Oh. But you haven’t been on a date in 2 months? Why?

M. Perfect: I guess I didn’t want to. We spend so much time together and I’ve been so busy with work. How about you? When was your last date?

Me: Uhh...(long pause)…about two weeks ago. (At this point, mentioning that it was Match.com date is probably not a good idea.)

M. Perfect: It’s okay, I trust you.

Me: What exactly do you trust me to do or not to do? We’re not exclusive. We have no commitment to each other.

M. Perfect: I still trust you.

Me: So does the fact that we’re not dating anyone else mean that we’re exclusive?

M. Perfect: In my mind, we have been exclusive.

Me: But just because you act like you’re exclusive doesn’t mean you want to be. Intention is not the same as behavior.

So I guess we’re exclusive, but I still have no idea whether he wanted to be or not. How is it that we talk for hours and hours, but we have no idea what the other person said?

What I think I heard is that we are exclusive and have been for a while. All we’ve done is defined it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It’s a small, small world...

According to Wikipedia, San Francisco has a population of roughly 750,000 and is the second most densely populated city in the U.S. There are a LOT of people here. I’ve heard a rumor that you could go to a different restaurant every night for the rest of your life and never eat at the same place twice. How is it possible that I can avoid eating at the same restaurant, but I can’t seem to stay away from people who just know a little too much about me? Why does the world sometime seem so small?

I went to a birthday party at Swig the other night for a good friend from school. He has a lot of friends, having been born and raised in the Bay Area and then working for many years here. I was chatting and dancing with my drunken friend and his friend from work, Amy, and her friend, Mr. Brief Encounter. The friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, Mr. Brief Encounter, started chatting with me – he was friendly, flirtatious, and nice. He called me violent and socially irresponsible in a teasing way. It was one of those conversations that’s fun and entertaining but totally forgettable when it’s over…just something to do to pass the time.

Well, it’s forgettable until it shows up in your email…

This is a first.

We met the other night at Swig (you forswearing community service, me expounding, perhaps tediously, on the virtues of charity). While I doubt either of us thought too much of the brief talk, you did mention a penchant for weaponry, and a distant bell went off somewhere in my head. When I realized the next day that I had "met" you before, via what is likely the only profile this side of Asia making mention of your martial arts style, I took a closer look, and I thought you sounded cool enough to almost be forgiven for not having a social conscience. :)

I still have no idea why a single woman in graduate school would choose to play on the relatively level playing field of online dating, but if you check out my profile and anything strikes you, let me know. At the very least, I think I remember you saying you just moved to the Mission hood, so if you need someone to help you keep up the torrid pace of going out 4-5 nights a week, I might be able to help.

-Mr. Brief Encounter

Okay, very, very cute email. Lots of bonus points for that. But, he already knows way too much. In my book, knowledge is power and right now, he has too much.

Sometimes I forget that I have a Match.com profile out there and that it is a personal ad. And perhaps everyone and their brothers have looked at this ad and I don’t know about it. And I have no control over this information outflow. This world is just too freaking small!

Perhaps Disney knows a thing or two about dating…