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I didn’t mean to come back after such a “long time no write” with such a bomb, needless to say I didn’t expect the bomb itself.

I’m tired, sleep deprived, PMSing and overreacting as usual, but it’s a detail that caught my total attention. Because really it’s the first time.

The first time ever I find myself considering the possibility of dating a guy with children. The question was raised as I first approached online dating and my answer was categorical: no. I’m not sure I could provide an exhausting justification, mainly it had to do with the fact that I don’t want to have anything to do with any child at all.

There is nothing going on with Marcel, there has never been and facing the facts, there will never be. I prefer to blame it on bad timing, because now that I’m back to being single he is seeing someone and he spent ages alone while I wasn’t, but truth is, for all I know he doesn’t even find me attractive.

We see each other maybe once every two months, I would say he is a friend, but really he joins our group every once in a while and I don’t know much about him. Still I like it when he is around, I like looking at him. It’s not an obsession, it’s the nice chance you like to carry around in your pocket, waiting to be brought out in case the situation was right.

Still, yesterday I was particularly receptive, especially when he took his shirt off and unbound his hair. I was looking forward to spending the afternoon with him amongst others, to maybe try to connect a little more, try to explore the possibility to become friends for real.

And then this. Just as I was getting changed after the race and putting on one of my best summer dresses to impress him, he was outside showing pictures of his son to the rest of the group.

I’m not good with kids, nor good at talking to people with kids, or about kids. This was basically the trifecta. Although… it is only and solely my personal problem. He is not getting married, it’s not his current girlfriend, he doesn’t live with his kid. But all of that somehow made it all even harder to figure out. Because as of now, at 31, what I can understand is getting married and having a baby, or having a baby without being married. Or having kids being divorced. This situation is an anomaly. And what he said about it and how he handled it and the decisions he took… it all just makes me like him even more.

It was like imploding. Everyone was shocked, because it was sudden and because it was presented us so much later than it occurred in his life. I was allowed to be shocked too, but I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. Nobody knows. I had to keep it together and that probably did much more damage than the rest. It could flood out only as I was driving back home alone. And even then, I couldn’t find the words to explain what happened to anyone else. Because nothing happened, it all started fireworks in my head but reality was completely unaltered.

What hit me at first was thinking that I had to give him up. That if he had a child, I could not be with him now or ever because I just can’t face having to deal with a child. Because I can’t explain to someone who has children how I think I would never have any and how in the very end to me it kind of feels like an abomination. I felt the need to retract, because I felt like he would have never accepted me anyway.

It wasn’t until later that the thought crossed my mind, not entirely for the first time, that it could be the best solution for me. I not only refuse the idea of imposing myself upon another human being and having my personal life destroyed by the presence of someone else constantly needing my entire attention, which is a point of view that I suppose with time might change, I also mostly dread the idea of being pregnant myself. I know how hard this is for everyone else to accept as possible, but the idea of something growing inside of me, makes me think of a tumor, not exactly a life. Being with someone who already has children would be a possible compromise, to not be forced to turn down someone just because I don’t want children and they do, possibly enjoying the teaching sides of parenting without having to bear children myself. But this is sci-fi.

And then there was this completely new side of him.

A side where he still smiles talking about life’s hardships, where he endured all of the pain of the situation for years without telling anybody, the side where he was ready to settle and give  up his needs for the sake of somebody else’s peace and quiet. The side where we, as a group, are not relevant enough in his life to be part of this secret until now. But that’s understandable.

But I know what it means to keep a secret, to spend time with people, laughing and chit-chatting, trying not to think about that one obsessing thought while all you’d want to do is spit out all the bitterness and the stress just to discharged your overflowing mind. And I’m sorry he had to go through it. And I wish he could have shared this with me, but the premises weren’t there.

And then he gets all excited about LARPing and I can’t help thinking we should really give it a try, if only he let me.

I was reading a post where a girl or woman was complaining about the difficulties of founding a serious or long-term relationship in our infamous city. It looks like every guy has some kind of impediment to starting a healthy relationship: he is either already engaged, or scared by commitment, or disappears out of no reason after a few dates and so on.

I wouldn’t know. Technically, I’ve been dating or available for a few months only and haven’t had that many experiences. I assume from a general perspective this could well be true and not one of those cases where the girl unconsciously pushes all the guys away – as I do.

But I was wondering… This is in the end a pretty traditional city. It may be a little more open-minded than most, but our culture as a state in general is rather tradition-bound. Tradition and culture here say that if you are a girl you are supposed to be courted. You should let the men do all the work, let them grovel so (and that’s my personal view) they feel much more valuable and valiant because they won the tournament: they won the girl.

In all that, you are supposed to never show any interest. Rise above it and leave them aching. You are supposed to play a game where if they want to get in your pants, they have to sweat it. Yet again, what matters is your virtue.

This is as fine a game as any. I understand its meaning and some of the benefits, although… I also supposed it is strictly connected to a rather chauvinist approach. To men, what it looks like is that the woman has no say in the whole process, it is only thanks to the skills of the man that the prize – the girl – was finally won. The woman has no say in this, she surrenders.

This is the game that has been played since society evolved. Problem: whether we like it or not, feminism has changed the rules in society. Women are not defenseless anymore, they are no longer just damsels in distress and the role of men has been shrunk, with an insane amount of psychological weaknesses for the poor fellows.

Now my question is this: if the general rules in male/female relationships have changed, how has this change affected the rules of attraction and flirting? I know some guys who are mainly interested in the hunt, and they are also the ones who deep inside still don’t think that a woman should do much more than stay at home and raise children. Or if nothing that fundamentalist, at least they still view women as damsels in distress up to some point.

I would like to know whether all of these lads who run away in front of the chance of a serious relationship actually run because they are peter-pans, or pricks, or playboys and how many run because they are too insecure to take a step further, if they were rendered insecure by all the power women have gained and flaunt in front of everyone, at least in this field.

What would happen if us damsels were ready to show that we actually are interested in them? Would they lose interest, as we have been always told, or would it help them to man up a little?

I feel like marble cake.
Darkness is mixed up in me in shapes I cannot disentangle.

Timing in love is everything. He can be Prince fucking Charming but if his white horse decides to take a crap while he’s smiling at you, it’s not going to work out.
Timing is everything Simon and I are missing. And it’s going to be our disgrace. Timing when I shouldn’t even be considering relationships, since I’m legally not even separated yet, timing when he doesn’t feel ready to have one. Timing that got us together by chance, after so many years when it could have happened and never did, timing that probably got us together in the one and only instance when it could make a difference.

And I am going to end up like the typical bonfire guitar player: serenading the pretty girl, who will inevitably start snogging the other guy sitting next to her.

I wish I knew, or rather, I wish I could realise and grasp on how many levels I am being an idiot.

I am treading on thin ice, because I know how much this situation could hurt me, not only objectively, but stirring up emotions way outside of my control, just as it has always been. I know, this could build expectations and hopes that should never arise given the very uncertain situation. Still, there is something holding me right where I am, unable to walk away and forget it ever happened. I wish I knew if it’s simple lack of guts or something deeper. I even built up a fabulous excuse, which deep inside I think could be true: having him may prevent me from seeking others, who may not be so gentle and respectful, who may hurt me intentionally, who may be just the wrong choice. So be it, I’ll keep it all in my head.

But then I realised it could be a bad idea for him too.

It could be smooth.
He could find another girl in a couple of months and go live happily ever after with her; I could find someone else in a couple of months and go live happily for just about a couple of weeks; we both could realise there is something we don’t like about the other and just give up; we could realise we are just good friends; we could just stop writing and never see each other again.

Or it could be miraculous.
He might lose the fear and the rationality and decide it doesn’t matter what happens later, what matters is what happens today.

What if there and then I understand how not ready I am for a full-blown relationship and feel the urge to run?

Of course, I’ve never seen a miracle happen in my entire life, so I’ll worry about it when the time comes.

There is something about him that makes him special. I can’t see what it is, but I feel it every time we share something. In each word he writes, in things he does, in explanations he gives me. We know so little about each other it’s hard to say I know him, all I could say is that so far he is spotless and I just want with all my heart to go looking for the rest. It’s like uncovering a long gone fresco underneath layers and layers of dull common paint: you wait for the day the image will be complete and every day you scrap a tiny bit of cover with expectation. The curiosity to know more, to share, to exchange, as if our skins were laid out in front of us in a single canvas and they came to adhere millimeter after millimeter until we can touch each other completely.

This lust to touch him is scary. I feel the need for his physical presence and it’s all I’m never going to have and if the need grows, it will crush me.

Giving him this space is something I am inclined to do because I feel it’s worth it. In time, flaws will be unveiled, my balance partly healed if not restored, maybe his too, but the struggle will be keeping the flame alive without letting it burn out. The way I have reacted so far makes me think this is not going to happen. We are going to end up torched.

I don’t want to pressure him and I don’t want to seduce him. The first because I am not sure enough of what I want, the second because it would be only bad for me. It would be easy, but I would hurt him, because that’s not what he wants, and I would hurt myself when he would turn away from me, not trusting me and unable to cope with the rush.

I don’t know when I’ll see him again, if ever. I wanted to go home this weekend, to see him before a whole month goes by from the last time, but this falling out we had… it would feel like pressuring him. I wish it came from him, I wish he asked me about it, then I could arrange plans accordingly, but I don’t want to be the one to drop the bomb.

Every day I get scared that he might change his mind and call himself out, scared that he may say he can’t do it anymore, scared that I may say or do something wrong and push him away. Scared that what scares me might come true.

I cannot know how it’s going to end, but if I have to guess from how it started I know one thing for sure: it’s going to be torture.

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote. Maybe that’s why I feel alwrong – that should be the correct opposite of alright.

Things have been weird and I feel weird and I have broken down in savage tears a couple of times too many for my liking. But that’s ok, it’s probably all a big step forward. Although I actually feel much more stuck than I thought I would ever be.

I spent the day with Simon.

I don’t know how to handle this. It has caused such an unreasonable amount of distress I can’t help thinking that I’m not ready for this yet. When I say “this”, I mean dealing with men in general, dealing on a level that far precedes any relationship, I mean dealing with the commotion and chaos the mere fact of liking someone brings to my soul. With “distress” I mean all of the very different emotions that have defined my days ever since I met him. With “ready” I mean the hardest thing of all, because I don’t know how to get ready, nor if I ever will.
I was in such panic I called Maddie. I talked this over with her and she was right. I take all this matter, boys, in the wrongest way of all: I expect or hope to find love. I can’t really deny it, I do. And it’s been like that forever. And I know I would be so much calmer if I didn’t. Now some hopeless romantic might say it’s the only way to proceed, and as far as I am concerned I would appreciate the answer, but the harsh reality is that it hurts too much to be the right way. For my own sanity’s sake, I should avoid it.

I wish I could find someone who likes me for who I am. Not for my body, not for my presumed easiness, not because of anything else. I tend to like people for how they are, sometimes more than what they look like. I like the possibility of sharing things with them, I like the way they think, the way they make me feel, I admire the way the live, I assume they could teach me something. Sure, I most often like how they look like too, but it’s rarely all.

I wish I could find someone like that, someone who likes my blue eyes just as much as the way I talk, someone who appreciates my body as well as my sense of humor. I thought he could be like that.

Ever since I met him, there has been great turmoil inside of me. It’s been very different from the others before, different from Alex, Hector, even Coach. We’ve texted extensively every day since the day we met, although it was strange, unexpected and probably premature, I liked it so much. It made me feel safe, he made me feel wanted and appreciated. I loved the fact that he liked me and I liked the fact that he is the kind of person who can like someone like me, for the qualities he saw the night we met; the ones that make me too little feminine, too aggressive, too spontaneous and unexpected.

It was safe seeing him not disappear day after day, it was good reading what he liked about me and how sure he seemed of what he wanted and how he pursued it. It was alluring reading his provocations, his allusions to sex, his impersonal propositions. He sounded like a man confident enough to lay it all out there with no fear of being judged.

Still at times I was scared. Scared of how much it could mean if it was true, scared of how I could react to finding someone like him so soon, scared by the possible complications if nothing were to go south.

The first trauma came when I suspected he had invited himself to sleep over. It was basically a misunderstanding, or so it seemed, but it was enough to break the spell. I plunged into panic, because I suddenly thought I had it all wrong. All the qualities he had seen in me might simply equal to someone who lives sex like a man, and the idea of being pursued just as an easy fuck killed me. Not because of the idea as such but because I really didn’t expect it from him. Nor would I have accepted it. But when I proposed a change of plans to accommodate my discomfort he didn’t flinch, acknowledge the misunderstanding and accepted new plans straight away.

Then, several texts and virtual conversations later, the day got closer, when we were supposed to meet and the night before I was newly in panic because I started worrying about the fact that he may not come at all and stand me up. And this was unreasonable and unmotivated but it was enough to make me start sobbing like a crazy person. So I called Maddie and as she tried to calm me down; she started saying how she wouldn’t trust someone who was so keen on writing since the very first start and that he probably just wanted that one thing and quickly. And I just started to believe it too. So again I felt stupid and naive for believing he might like me more than just for that.

And then along came all the past with First Fred. It was just so obvious it all came from there. The fear of being abandoned, the shame of believing a lie, the preemptive worry of erratic and unmotivated behaviour… the fear of realising how much damage that experience has done to me and how much I am going to have to suffer for it in the future, again and again until I can finally break the spell, if ever. I can’t allow myself to be the stupid girl who believes nice words, I cry and I panic because I don’t want to believe I am the same silly girl now at 31 as when I was 17. So I started hoping he wouldn’t even come, I started hoping he would reveal himself for the prick he supposedly was and just disappear before he could perpetrate any damage. I went to bed empty and disillusioned.

So the morning after, when indeed he confirmed again he was coming, my attitude was that of someone who wouldn’t give in for anything in the world. I was ready to play catch, to lure him and deny him, to defend myself from someone who would make a very obvious pass on me for the only reason of wanting some sex. I was ready to fight and win the battle. I expected someone like Anthony to start charming me with the same captivating words used in his messages. I had turned myself into Maddie.

So when I walked him to his train at the end of the day and he didn’t even try to kiss me, I was shocked. Worse, I was hurt. Because that definitively changed everything. Of course my fighting attitude didn’t last long, because it was very obvious there was no battle, but at least one kiss, I did expect that. I longed for that. In light of everything he had written me, of how excited he seemed to see me again and given that the day was good. Or seemed good.

One thing became very clear to me however: he was not at all what Maddie expected and her advice was completely pointless. As stupid and obvious as this may sound, I should have trusted my guts more. Because one thing is sure: I may still make many horrible mistakes, but I can read people and intentions much better now than when I was 17 and if in the end I trusted this person to be different from the others and if I believed what he said, maybe there was a reason. It might be stretching it a little too thin, but maybe he did write to me so much because he just wanted to get to know me while we couldn’t spend time together and maybe he pushed himself in some bold texts because he knows he wouldn’t have the courage to do it face to face. Because he is a nerd, in the end, just like me.

But that missing kiss… All it meant to me was he had changed his mind. That would unfortunately not be a surprise. Every member of the aforementioned trio changed his mind about me, I wouldn’t know why it should be any different with him. And that is probably the very worst thing right now, because with the others I couldn’t actually be sure of how interested in me they were in the first place; in this case, I know. I was suddenly terrified I would never hear from him again.

Unreasonable exaggeration? I still don’t know. But right now I am not only extremely disappointed at the idea of having lost him too, I am deeply scared at the idea that this is no way to deal with the whole dating matter and have no way of overcoming the problem. I am hurting myself way too much with my attitude. And while I could force myself to be celibate, if I wanted to, I can’t refrain from liking men. While I perfectly know I could do without him since I’ve done it so far not even knowing him until last week, I don’t have the faintest idea of how I could ever survive the next crush and the next and the next after that without being crushed myself.

Sometimes you end up counting only on yourself.

You know you can always rely on your parents for money but you can also rest assured they will keep asking the wrong questions about your life, just to quench their own curiosity, whenever you need it the least.

A night out with friends will always be the best cure for blues, but you will inevitably find yourself alone in your office at 9.30 am on Monday.

The people who move your soul and have the power to make you happy with one simple word will always disappear one second after you realise how much they mean to you.

Some days, you have a list of significant others and destiny’s pen keeps crossing out every item in it, until all is left is the Saxon genitive in the title: yourself.

When that yourself has a cold, PMS and hasn’t slept nearly enough – in months – things get tough. Plus, it’s cloudy, rainy and the heating got officially turned off, regardless of outside temperatures close to 10°C. And the Boss keeps his windows open as if it was Honolulu.

But it’s ok, it’s to be expected. It’s been a long while since my last down, considering it’s April 22nd, I’m in a state of bliss. Maybe it feels too much like winter today and when it’s cold I need to be warmed outside and inside.

My friend Stephen is a pro. He met this girl last summer in Iceland, she lives in another continent, but they’ve been together ever since. I congratulated him the other night. He’s the only person I know who believes in dreams so much to make it a way of life. We should all learn from him. Somehow he makes the magic happen. I’ve known him ever since high school and he’s always been like this. I should have learnt from him a long time ago. It’s not easy, but he is so not scared. Looking at him makes me believe Alex and I are possible. But then again, I am not Stephen and Alex is not Kelsey.

Managing all of these boys – just in my head, that is –  makes me feel alive, but it has wearied me out already. I need feelings right now, because it still feels like I have been forced into feelings by my head for so long, I’m just looking for some redemption. At the same time, I am somehow relieved to be free to give and take away as I please, instead of being locked into a relationship where you suddenly have obligations and responsibilities towards the other person’s feelings.

I am scared I have lost touch with my feelings. I am scared that they might disappear all of a sudden just as it happened last time, I am scared that they might not be true in the first place, I am scared not to be able to feel and love anymore – if I’ve ever been able to. But at the same time, I feel liberated by the fact that I am allowing myself to feel and dream as I please. Still, dreams scare me, because once you dream your dream you admit to yourself that making it come true is something you wish very badly and the idea that it may never come to pass is dreadful.

I feel stuck in between. I am happy to dream and be a feeling person more than I used to be, but at the same time I am so scared I wish I wouldn’t dream at all. I’m a dog on a leash. I am not caged and I can wander around to some extent but I am not really free to go anywhere either and I am just not gutsy enough to bite on the leash and go.

Maybe it was easier when it was all in my head, all contained in a bubble-like environment. All of my test subjects were meteors, it was me, them and the city, nobody else. Others people around me only got to imagine the deeds through my narrations. In a way, it wasn’t that different from fantasising. In my outside world, they didn’t exist, and if they touched by chance the rest of my world, efforts would be made for them to be deleted as fast as possible.

This is different. This is my hometown. This is my friend’s buddy. Someone who doesn’t live in my city, smokes, at the age of 30 still lives with his parents, has an improbable job and well… is not that cute, objectively speaking. Still, this happened.

This made me realise how stupid and pointless the whole online dating is. Not because it’s useless, not because it doesn’t work, but because it’s so limiting. I like this guy and apparently he likes me, still if I had seen his profile online I would have never contacted him for a long series of reasons and probably wouldn’t have even been bothered to answer back had he contacted me. And probably, it would have never clicked if we had met through an online dating service, because the first encounter would have been much more awkward, none of us would have felt free to just be who we are, I for one wouldn’t have felt free to drink two beers and a shot. And since we’ve already met and talked, if he acts like he’s interested now, it’s because he has seen the real me, not just a virtual image.

So I wonder where is the lesson in that. Should I just give up online dating? Should I give many more chances to all the e-guys I don’t like who contact me? Should I stop excluding profiles just because some of their characteristics don’t match my requirements?

I have to be honest. There has been a TS4, in the meantime, but my wisdom doesn’t feel that enriched by the encounter, so while I might end up with yet another lesson about him, right now I’d like to focus on the most common and detrimental mistakes men make while still online.

1) Pictures

Not everyone is blessed with beauty and perfection, and I guess whether we like it or not none of us would be using online dating services if we looked like Brangelina. Still, there is a margin.
First of all: do use pictures where one can actually see your face. With this I mean not only that it should be a technically good picture, but also that you should avoid sunglasses, masks, glasses of wine or any other stuff covering your face. But this should only be common sense. What I wish I could forbid to all of you are other delicacies:
DO NOT post pictures of you naked or half-naked. I don’t care how hot your six-pack looks, just don’t, unless there’s a very specific reason why you are shirtless (i.e. sunbathing, getting a tattoo, swimming). And mostly don’t you dare use pictures of you naked shot by yourself. That’s creepy. On second thought, even if there is a reason why you are naked, just don’t post it anyway.
DO NOT post pictures of you with your tongue out. I’m not your dentist. Yuk!
DO NOT post pictures where we can see your ex. I mean, seriously?!?
DO NOT post pictures taken by yourself in your room or directly in front of your computer. You’re single, do you want us to believe you have no friends either?
DO NOT post pictures taken by yourselves half-naked laying on your bed. That’s the trifecta…

2) Nicknames

Please guys, I’m begging you. You cannot do much about the way you look, but you can do something about how you introduce yourselves. When a girl is shopping on an online dating website, she (at least I do so) proceeds in levels. First comes the main picture, then comes the nickname, then the description you wrote about yourselves, then the list of attributes, then possibly other pictures in your profile. If a girl notices your picture, do not spoil this opportunity. Choose your nickname with wit or at least pick something harmless like your name followed by numbers. Please do avoid horrors such as slushy_teddybear83, mad_for_milfs, Juan_amor_de_tu_vida, beautyandbrain, pure_passion, solid_body, tinkerbell82 (yes, for a man)… I am serious, it’s insulting.

3) Descriptions

Some of you just don’t bother writing one. How do you suppose we can start a conversation if we know nothing about you?? But that would still be better than other examples, like WRITING YOUR WHOLE DESCRIPTION IN CAPITALS; what, you wanted people in Japan to hear you shouting it?
I may be hard to please, but I don’t like that much quotations either: what they say about you is “I lack imagination to such a  point that I cannot even put a sentence together”. But if you really really really HAVE to use a quotation, please don’t post love poems as if your beloved was reading. We are checking your profile, not proposing to you.
I don’t even want to spend a word about those who still believe they are writing a commercial on a magazine “tall, blond, never married looking for a woman 30 to 40”. Uh, no price tag?
One of the worst abominations are guys who like to point out how they just broke up after a long-term relationship. You may just as well write “I’m looking for a rebound”. Right, because our love for being used like tissues is widely known…
And then there are narcissists: those who state with the utmost confidence in the very first line of their presentation that they are handsome. You’re just sooo attractive… you definitely won’t mind keeping having sex with your own self!
Last but not least, the doubtful’s: “Where should I begin?”, “What could I say about myself?”, “I’m not very good at describing myself”. Honey, if you don’t know, how the hell should I?

4) E-mails and messages

Oh, well… a parallel universe of its own!
First things first: if I have made clear on my profile that I prefer e-mails to chats; why on Earth do you think it’s smart to contradict me and you chat me up anyway? And don’t go complaining that girls won’t consider you…
Secondly: I insisted on e-mails, ok, but that should tell you that simply writing “hi” may be just a little less than enough.
Thirdly: I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about something smart to write in my profile. Won’t you just do me a favour and acknowledge that? It’s nice when people comment on my profile. How comes you are writing me your own description, which I didn’t ask for since you came looking for me, and you don’t even show a little appreciation for erm… me?

5) Search criteria

Search criteria are there for a reason. Some of you deliberately ignore them.
I am starting to wonder if people expect something other than dating from a dating website. I look for people living nearby to potentially start a real-world relationship, not some penmanship with someone on the opposite side of the country. If I live in London, I must date someone who is in London too; why do you suppose I could be interested in knowing you, sweet boy from Inverness?
But the worst happens with age. I may have an excessive tendency to like younger boys, but in the hope of changing this habit my search criteria embrace the age category 28-38. Still, I constantly get… can I say harassed? by 50-year-olds and older. There are younger women attracted to older men, or just attracted by older men’s means, but I am not one of them. The website asked if I am one of them and I said no. Just go away!
Same goes for 20 year olds and younger. Younger boys yes, infants not quite.

6) The mute peekaboo

The websites that I commonly use have developed any sort of tricks to connect users. They include pop-ups of people who are checking out your profile, lists of people who added you to their favourites, sending of electronic gifts or tests to answer to as well as chats, e-mails… you name it.
However, the idea behind it is getting to know each other. Considering it could be premature and severely harmful to swap phone numbers from the very first contact, what’s left is writing.
Unfortunately, writing – meaning composing a text of varying length made up of sensible and grammatically correct sentences – is still an issue to many. That is not a good reason to become a mute peekaboo.A mute peekaboo is the typical user who never writes anything, he just clicks. He clicks on your profile and let you see he is online every single time you are online, he sends you virtual roses times but never says hi, he adds you to his favourites a hundred times a week. All that without a single “hi”. All that without ANY sign from the girl indicating that she appreciates. Clue: SHE DOESN’T. IT’S STALKING.

****

I admit I may be just a little bit unforgiving and extremely picky… but I am not going to cut you any slack anyway guys…

Here’s the thing about “the list” – the one containing all of the attributes of your ideal man: I may have gotten it all wrong.

Until a few months ago, but maybe even just last week, in case I were asked what my perfect partner should be like, I would have begun my answer with “he’s got to be smart and well-educated”.

I think I have my reasons for “smart”. Not that any girl would ever want her man to be stupid and dumb, but with my twisted and convoluted brain, if he’s not 100% he’s never going to get me.

As for “educated”, this is already a bit more biased. I can’t stand people who can’t get their spelling straight and in terms of online dating this can turn into an extremely wide cut out. Plus, in my society whoever doesn’t own a college degree broadly equals to a high school drop out.

Both criteria are perfectly respectable as such, my problems stem from two basic misconceptions:

1) I have always put these criteria at the very top of my list, which brought me to never even consider people who don’t fully meet the requirements.

2) The combination smart+educated has often lead me to nerds, control freaks and hyper-rational men.

I know the latter type rather well: it’s the kind of guy I met at Campus. Perfect GPA, career oriented, smart, nerdy, technological… Every person is unique, but when the matrix is so similar, there is only so much that can actually vary. Generalisations are evil but in my experience pure scientists, economists and engineers will always go just so far in terms of irrationality, instinct and impulse. I know, I married one of the worst.

I have always been extremely flexible on looks. I may have noticed tendencies and preferences over the years, but in reality I have always liked any kind of colour or shape. I look at a person in their entirety and decide from the overall impression whether I like them or not. I should be doing the same for all of the invisible aspects as well. Otherwise, it’s just like saying “he has brown eyes, it’s impossible for me to like him”.

All of this revolves around a very simple question: love is a matter of the heart, why should I focus on brains?

Don’t get me wrong, brains are sexy, especially if opposed to shallowness and vanity, but it often reflects too much in the relationship with women. I’d need more the philosopher type than the engineer type right now. Actually given previous experiences with philosophers, I may be very wrong about this, let’s just say super-educated men aren’t always the solution.

Just because I am super-educated, it doesn’t mean I need someone like me; in fact I may need the exact opposite, since all of this brain-focus has been all but helpful. This is also the reason why I was so attracted to Hector: he perfectly fit the definition of nerd but at the same time he had a clearly developed spiritual and emotional side.

It’s all about fine-tuning the two, but I should probably give much more space to heart right now than to brain, in the hope of learning how to shush my brain when needed and let other organs drive.

The question remains whether it is something that can be learnt at all.

Sometimes I wonder what would be best.

I am trying to make a point of being who I want to be, following my own rules and moral values, as petty as they might be. Often, though, I find these hypothetical rules clash with what is “proper”.

There are so many unwritten rules in dating: no sex before the third date, no asking a guy out if you’re a girl, no answering texts straight away, no letting a guy know how much you like him. I understand that strategy works, in love just as much as in war. Still, I think it’s fake.

I read two posts recently, both got me thinking and nodding, both tend to go openly against the rules above:
http://ruthrutherford.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/b-e-a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e/
http://jtinseoul.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/something-to-ponder/

Which side is right?

If I have to think about my own experience, I tend to be able to pretend and stategise only when I don’t really care about the guy. If I do, spontaneity tends to get the better of it.

I guess, most of it has to do with what kind of person you are dealing with. There are people who love the chase, hunters interested in the game much more than the prey itself. Like Maddie. And then there are people who care from the start about what’s real, true feelings, sincerity and affection. Like me. We do not like people who play games, because we can’t fight on equal terms and we feel fooled; they most probably don’t like us because we are easy and boring.

But right at the beginning of all approaches, is it possible to tell to which category our counterpart belongs to?

Even when “true” people get together, it’s always extremely difficult to stick to what’s proper. When you don’t know what kind the other is, it’s a nightmare. Not knowing what the other person thinks of us causes the worst disarray and there is no way we are ever sure what we’re supposed to do.

In a perfect world, where things always go in the best of ways and assholes do not exist, what someone like me would like to do is breaking every single rule: I would kiss on my first date, possibly sleep with them on the same night if I wanted to, tell them how much I like them in the same exact moment as I realise it myself and thank them there and then for being a wonderful creature.

That is not proper.

It’s utterly unacceptable. While I have put into practice the first two, because in some way they can be accepted – and not always with tragic results I would add – the last two are unthinkable.

For the simple reason that there is always the possibility out there lurking that he might only be fooling you around. Now that is possibly the single most unacceptable and improper thing to do in our times: be fooled. It’s the biggest disgrace of all. It deserves the scarlet letter. You must always be prepared and never let your guard down, or you will be dishonoured.

I most honestly wonder why that is. Of course, when it happens you end up hurting beyond comprehension. But the reaction you get from the general population is that you made a fool of yourself. Now, wait a minute. I wouldn’t be the one doing something wrong. If right and wrong still exist, as small and scared as they might be, someone must recognise that we wouldn’t be the bad guys, nor the stupid guys, nor the shallow guys. We would not make a fool of ourselves, we would be fooled. Victims. Undefiled, I might add.

The thing that mostly makes me wonder is when I think of how it would make me feel to hear the same thing said to me. It would sweep me off my feet. I’m outrageously romantic, I know. And in the end, if we feel that way about someone it shouldn’t matter if we wait and let them know some other watered-down way. Or should it?

If we knew that we could trigger this reaction in that special someone, would we pass on it? Should we? Is it possible that we actually do some damage by being proper? How do we recognise someone as special, doesn’t it happen when they cross the line? What would it say about us if we were ready to long-jump across that line?

It would scare the hell away the vastest majority of people.

Imagine all the guys you want to date on a line, in the middle of the desert, like where they do tests on super fast cars. Imagine them one beside each other, all facing you, with the sun in their eyes and the wind ruffling their hair and shirts. Imagine yourself on the opposite side, a line drawn with a stick in the dry earth in front of you. You look at each other straight in the eyes High-Noon style. You start running toward the line and make that jump. You land on your feet and you still stare at them when they decide, cold sweating, to turn and run for their lives. Imagine seeing the dust raised by their feet settle and starting to outline the shape of just one of them who didn’t even flinch.

That’s the guy you want.

That’s what he is: spot on. And it’s scary, and the problem is that I am already anxious about it. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, I was supposed to be entering my slutty phase, my spring break, as Renée puts it.

Or maybe not.

It’s easy to say, I shouldn’t be thinking about it that much, that I should be taking things as they come. Easier said than done, my mind is the greatest architect of all times, when it comes to castles in the sky. I wanted an alternative to Coach and I got it. But then I’m scared again.

With Coach it was easy, in the end. They say, dating in your 30’s is harder because you have much more baggage with you, you can’t let go of past experiences, you have your disillusions, your failures, your armour to protect you which has thickened even more over the years. To me, it was exactly the opposite. I felt just reborn, I had a brand new point of view, I felt on top of the world strong with my new beginning and fresh-out-of-the-oven optimism. I felt like a teenager. So I just went with it, I didn’t care to be hurt, I didn’t care to be rejected, it was just a try, and I enjoyed having a chance. Now I have already started lining up the bricks for a new the wall.

Because I have been rejected once already, I would very much prefer to avoid it for the second time around.

It’s very different with Kolya (after the second date, they are not merely test subjects anymore…), because as much as I like being with him, I don’t like him that way. If there was nobody else, if it was one of those desperate times where anyone would do – and that’s a very bad thing to say – there could be something. I did look at him that way very closely last time. He is cute, but he is not sexy in the least. He is the Past, he is the kind of guy who would have been great before: smart, rational, dedicated to his career, mature but still crazy enough to enjoy life and pull some stunts every now and then… been there, done that, he would be the best way to go on exactly in the same life style I had with my husband. Safe, good, but not good enough, not now. Now, I need change.

Now I need sex, I need emotions, I need to explore that irrational side of me I have kept dormant for so long. I need someone who can understand change, who can understand mistakes and the need to focus elsewhere rather than on the mind.

When the OD sites asked for the kind of man I wanted to find, I never really answered, I only ever thought about it without writing it for everyone to see; mainly because lists are useless, and secondly because it doesn’t matter if people can identify themselves with those attributes, since they usually don’t really know themselves nearly enough and because I need to see it for myself anyway. But if I had had the time and the willingness to point out how he should be, it would have sounded like this:

smart but not a smartass, rational but hot-blooded, guided by his guts with a little help of his mind, aware of what he wants as much as of his insecurity, keen on laughing as much as on crying, not scared by the demons of the human soul, able to talk and to listen.

I would like someone who could guide me towards growing the new side of me. I know I am the only one who can develop it but I’d like the help or just someone I can share it with. This process of finding my own way to deal with life is probably the single thing that defines me as a person more than anything else. It is the main reason why everything has come so hard to me, why my life always seemed much more complicated and out of hand compared to anyone else’s. I can’t think of being with anyone who can’t understand this at least up to a certain point. Not now. Maybe 5 years from now, the whole process will be deposited and integrated in myself so much I will simply take it for granted, not even acknowledging it anymore. Right now, it’s the core of my being.

Maybe, probably, these are qualities pertaining a much more important figure than a spring break guy, but I haven’t really decided what I want right now. I keep swinging from the hot barista to the man of my dreams in a matter of seconds. Maybe I should leave the decision to fortune, because I can find a hundred hot baristas but maybe just one in a million right guys. Maybe I shouldn’t even be thinking about making a choice but just accepting what life brings. I just don’t care if I make a mistake when I believe in what I’m doing.

The general idea is that I shouldn’t be committing to a relationship right after the last one. I tend to agree, but if I feel someone can give me a lot, I am inclined to try and be with them anyway. I may be wrong and grow tired of the whole commitment thing in a few weeks, I’ll act upon it accordingly when I see fit. But as long as I know what I want or what I need and I decide to pursue it, I accept to stand corrected along the way, but I am going to do it anyway.

This is my problem with Kolya. I know so damn well I don’t believe in this and I hate pretending. Everybody tells me my priority is having something fun to do and being with people who make me feel good, but what if being true to myself and to whom I want to be is my priority right now?

I am the only one who knows what went on in my mind during this separation and I strongly believe it’s nothing anybody else has ever experienced, exactly because of my own personal way to deal with myself. So I don’t accept blindly what others tell me about how it’s going to unfold or what I’m supposed to do. I listen to every point of view but give nothing for granted. I want to make my own mistakes because some of them are not mistakes in  my mind, they are necessary transitions towards wisdom.

Of course, getting out of a relationship one should just have fun, have lots of meaningless sex, be slutty with right about anyone just for the sake of seducing strangers and all that. But what I lacked were feelings, what I missed the most was honest attraction to someone’s body and soul, what I realised for the first time is the existence of a positive side in every human being, what I understood is the kind of relationship I would want. I woke up so now I want to get up. If anything, I am sorry I MAY have met someone just right for this experiment just a little too early.

The first time I met him, I had a hunch, just and nothing more than a hunch. It was all guts. Now I have so much more evidence. Not everything was filled in yet, but a good portion is. What I knew the first time was just that talking came easy. I could say the same for Kolya, but not really. There was one fundamental difference: with Kolya, it was easy talking and laughing about things, past experiences, anecdotes, general things. It felt like talking to my oldest friend, which to me means having a good time and laughing away any current shit.

With him the easy part was getting deep, opening up, touching touchy subjects. It was a hunch then, it’s a certainty now. His journey has been similar to mine, change defined his life too, the conclusions or rather the current status that he has reached look very close to what I am aiming at. The means may be different, but the result is the same and that may make any exchange even more enriching. All this without considering the rest, which is not priority but it’s there.

I see the difference in this with Coach or Kolya. With Coach it was much more about giving. Maybe because he is younger, maybe because I saw in him the old me and wanted to teach him to “get better”, to blossom, probably as a means to give back what he is giving me teaching what he knows. I don’t know Kolya enough to know what he has to give, but I’m afraid that’s part of the problem.

I know he has something I want or rather, I know he has something to offer me that I would take very willingly, I just don’t know if I have anything to give him that he may be interested in. I’m afraid not to be enough, I’m afraid to be turned down. He is not perfect and I don’t think of him as the man of my life, just the man I’d need right now. I am transitioning so I don’t know how long I will need someone like him for, but right now he is spot on. And that makes it even harder to accept that I may not be what he needs now. I see a very high potential and the idea of giving it all up again, of yet another time not being enough is hard to take.

And then there is the chemistry. I can’t say I remember ever wanting to kiss someone so badly… unfortunately, as of now I have no way of knowing for sure if this is reciprocated or not. I have hunches, but it wouldn’t be the first time they turn out to be completely wrong. I am not used to dating, so everything looks confused and confusing to me. I am used to being extremely fast in these things, I don’t wait, I tend to throw myself at the guy as soon as I want to. Let’s not discuss whether it’s a good strategy or not, please, I’m just stating the facts here. So this time around, it’s not working like that. In my opinion, if nothing has happened by the second date, there’s something wrong. According to pretty much anybody else, it’s perfectly normal. I’m nervous anyway. Plus, spring coming up is not helping slowing down my hormones.

Call of duty to all inventors out there: when will you ever finally patent a mind switch that can turn off any unwanted thought?!

When I started writing this sort of online dating handbook, I thought I would try to dispense advice on how to make it as painless an experience as possible. This brought to writing about dont’s much more often than do’s. The fact is, I hardly have any dont’s this time. Because truth be told, I am very surprised myself of how well it all went. And no, this lesson is not going to be long and hard. I guess against all odds, I’m going to have to abandon the negative perspective and just write about the good things that can happen. But for one bullet, owed from the last post.  So here we go, TS3:

1) Do not, under any circumstance, get carried away by your cybernetic self. I may want to explain this. When I chat or write e-mail to guys online I completely conceal my identity. Of course, any rookie hacker could find out everything about me, but as far as my tech knowledge goes, I leave no clues. No surname, no addresses, no names of companies or places where I spend my time, no facebook, nothing. The realm of vagueness. And still, here I go and give access to my FB public profile to a guy I am going to date (see previous post “Lie to me”). Because this is the point: the bad thing is not that he’s a stranger and shouldn’t know stuff about me, the fact is Facebook is always going to tell people secrets about you that they are not supposed to know. So just don’t. Especially if you have secrets, and we all do, so again, just don’t. I was lucky, he didn’t see it and the trouble-shooter e-mail I sent was more than enough for him, but you may very well end up blowing it and missing out on some great guy. You never know, so don’t risk it.

2) Don’t be too definitive after just one date, not always. This is the opposite anyone would ever tell you to do under normal circumstances, but I have an angle, or rather Maddie does. There are thousands of good reasons not to see a guy ever again, you just know if you don’t want to, but at times it gets strange. The date was great. I wasn’t excessively nervous, we hit it off basically from the start, he is exactly as crazy and smart as he seemed from his e-mails and makes me laugh all the time. But there wasn’t that spark, not like with TS2. At the end of the evening what I thought was that I definitely wanted this person in my life, but just as a friend, and I wanted to tell him straight away. Then I talked to Maddie about it and she told me to wait. And I think she has a point. One date may not be enough. I am not sure about this but I don’t think it’s so common and usual for things to go this well, so I guess there is a very valid point in just leaving things simmer for a while before reaching one of those easy to make but very difficult to unmake decisions. If it feels like it could be one of those things that may come with time, allow yourself some time. Just be sure it’s not just because he is the only meat available in that precise moment. You may end up spending your weekend thinking about him anyway, so it’s worth giving it another shot.

3) Don’t overdo it too soon. Somebody once said: overdressed is never an issue. Not true. Of course consider the place you’re going to – i.e. don’t show up in sneakers at a 200£ restaurant but don’t wear your Jimmy Choo’s to go to the cinema to watch The Hobbit either. My point is absurd, but still: don’t be too stunning. In the end, you don’t know if you’ll like the guy, if it’s a first date, don’t show up dressed as if you already knew he’s the man of your life or if you were trying your absolute best to get laid. If there is going to be a second date, it might be better to leave some room to impress the guy further when you definitely know you want to impress him. Thumb rule: increase the hight of your heels by 1 or 2  centimeters per date in order to reach the highest on the third date. By then, you probably won’t need shoes anymore in order to impress them anyway.

4) It’s ok to pause for a while. If that creates casualties, too bad. I don’t have much time for dating, truth be told. Right now, I’m really devoting most of my free time to training. I can hardly handle two second dates this week. So I won’t go looking for a third. People available on a dating site are not infinite. There’s always the same people around, it may look like it’s raining men at the beginning, but after a while it gets stale. It might be worth pausing for a couple of weeks and allowing some fresh water to flow in. In the mean time, don’t be bothered by the e-mails you will receive in the meantime, just rest. So you won’t be needing tons of make up to conceal bags under your eyes. Ok, this bullet is more to myself than anyone out there…

5) Power is in numbers. I feel extremely lucky because two out of three dates with people met online were actually great. Maybe it’s not just luck, its skimming. If you decide to meet just anyone who chats you up online, you may very well end up with unbearable guys; you need to be extremely selective. With pictures it’s much harder to understand if he looks ok or not, but it’s pretty easy to tell if he looks really bad. Leave those out, even if it’s possible that he is just not photogenic. Read very well his profile, it will give you an idea of who he is; do not accept compromises: if you know he has children and that’s not ok with you, if his level of education is too low, if he lives too far away, if he is too short, if he has dogs and you’re allergic… whatever…  do not waste your time; of course, in real life these can be considered superficial things, but online dating is a bitch and what looks like the perfect guy on-screen, is going to be just normal, not astounding. Of course this means giving up on the vast majority of the subscribers, but one in a hundred is going to be ok for you. I still consider myself lucky, but I have ignored literally hundreds of messages before hitting these two, so maybe it’s more about effective search criteria than good ol’ fashioned fortune.