Why? I don't know. I tried to move on with my life. I tried to be the girl who Does Things.
But you know what I've just gotten really good at Doing? Dating. I'm the girl who Dates. Those are the "things" I do, apparently. Maybe I should just embrace that.
I'm not the girl who Has Relationships, mind you. Those are a whole other story. But after around four years and some approximate 9,000 dates, I feel I've gotten pretty good at them. I have a 100% success rate for second-date requests. I've met some amazing people, some shitty ones, and I've learned a lot about myself.
Since I quit Kissing Frogs, I've largely kept my dating details quiet and only between me and my closest 45-50 friends.
But I'm annoyed. I'm fed up right now. I want to share a few things I've picked up, and I hope it benefits some of you in various ways. I'm happy to learn lessons in life, but I'm happier to pass them onto you so you can learn them too. And then thank me and praise me for all my infinite wisdom. You're welcome, my friend. Your gratitude has made it worthwhile.
Recently, I jumped into what, in MeMe world, amounts to a relationship. I felt very comfortable with this person, on a level I am not used to. I felt I could entirely be myself, and not only would that be accepted, but admired. It was a rare treat. Somehow men seem to see only what they want to see when they look at me, like I'm a perfect Disney Princess who wakes up singing and covered in birds and never has periods or morning breath. As basically the farthest thing from a Disney Princess, I find this very annoying. Don't gloss over my imperfections. They are still me.
On the other hand, I get the men who are attracted to the fact that I'm a bit out there-- I blurt stupid things out, I've a foul mouth, and sometimes I get drunk and flash the statues in the middle of town. This draws them in. She's wild, she's a handful! And once they've got me, they immediately start attempting to squelch all that fire that drew them to me in the first place.
Quit telling me to put my top back on.
So, anyway. With this guy, I was hesitant to get involved in the first place, because we work together and my long history of making men cry themselves to sleep over my perfection made it seem like a very bad idea to go out. But, we clicked. I felt like he looked at me and he saw the wildness and the bad breath and the attitude, as well as the kindness and the intelligence I let peek out once in a while. I felt like I was seen in entirety, for the first time. It felt refreshing.
Ten days into this new and definitely MeMe rushed "relationship" (at least common sense had me waiting to pull the trigger on labeling this), my Work Boyfriend makes an innocent suggestion that I go to the gym more often.
But that's not really the end of it. It went on for a while, carefully led by some questions I asked, hoping for a better response. Because there was a lot more to it than just going to the gym and being healthy. It was becoming pretty clear to me, reading between the lines, that while he seemed to enjoy and embrace all aspects of my personality, he was still trying to change me... physically. This was a new issue for me. This was also an especially dangerous situation for me, someone with a history of bulimia. Because what his comments boiled down to meant I looked okay, passable, but I could look better.
I kept waiting for a realization from him that he had hurt me, followed by the obligatory, "oh em gee, you're the hottest thing on earth and I'm so sorry, your ass is dynamite," but the apology I got was for "discouraging" me. Discouraged from what? Going to the gym??
Instantly I fast forwarded through this relationship in my head. I saw myself hitting the weights twice a week, running, eating better. I saw him casually praising my hard work, but maybe I should go three times a week? Maybe I should let my hair grow out? Maybe I would look better in these clothes and not those?
The only thing I was discouraged from was dating him. It was such a subtle change from his usual sweetness, but it blared in my head for hours, haunting me.
He was just trying to "encourage" me, he said. I thought of all the times men have encouraged me to do things that I didn't want to do. Things for my own good. For my own improvement. Things that made me miserable and dependent on them. Things I had to do to prove I was good enough to be with them. Things that made them angry if I ignored.
I said goodbye to Work Boyfriend. I'll deal with the aftermath as it comes. I'll deal with it because I am a strong woman, and I am a smart woman, and I stand my ground.
Someone suggested I was hasty in my response to his comments, and I like to think maybe I was. Perhaps. Maybe this was all an innocent misunderstanding. He had been so complimentary, before, hadn't he?
But I also saw a red flag, and I exited the situation. I look back to myself and the people I have dated in the past, and all the times I thought, "This doesn't seem good, but I'll bet he didn't mean it," and I wish I had just trusted my gut and jumped ship.
I would rather be single, alone, and covered in a literal coat of cats, then stay with someone who diminishes me. And I hope so fucking badly that you guys do the same, listen to your instincts, and leave in a hailstorm of middle fingers the moment you start to feel like you're getting sucked into someone else's bullshit ideals.
That being said (and thank you for bearing with me, you knew I would get to it eventually), I am throwing together a few generalized rules about dating asshole-free. There's layers and layers to finding and freeing your life from the Assholes, but here's a good place to start as you venture into dating someone new.
ASSHOLES: KNOW THE SIGNS
Asshole Tricks (Please also read up on Narcissism and the warning signs) and What to Look Out For:
1)They are exceedingly complimentary... at first. Have you ever dreamed about being someone's center of the universe? No? Don't fucking lie. Well, this Asshole will make you feel like you are. You're the most perfect, hilarious, gorgeous individual... until, suddenly, you're not. If you've been bathing in a warm shower of feeling like this person couldn't adore you more, and then a sudden comment hits you like cold water, beware. Yes people are human and say stupid things. Yes we misspeak. But if you're riding on a golden cloud of happiness and suddenly they hit you with a record scratch? Run. That's the harbinger. Your bubble is about to burst.
2) They like everything you like. Everything. No seriously. Everything. Not everyone who does this is an asshole, but regardless, it's not a cute trait. They're absorbing your personality, and that won't end well. I don't care about that time you got stoned in college and talked in detail with your roommate about how you would totally date yourself. Nothing good comes of someone faking it, because it's not real. Try getting them to commit to liking something, and then backtrack. You don't actually like it. Now they don't either? Ugh gross. Go home and masturbate. At least you don't have to fake it.
3) They're sweet as hell... to you. Isn't it sort of weird that your server rolls her eyes every time you come over, though? Your best friend refuses to come out and hang? That old man he pushed into the street is crying? Nice people are nice to everyone. Assholes are only nice to you. For now.
4) They manipulate. This is the biggest one and the hardest to put into words, because there are so many levels of manipulation. "Encouraging" me to go to the gym (when I did not request nor appreciate such encouragement) is a form of manipulation. My friends can encourage me to go to the gym every day without me coming away from it feeling like my self-image has been punched in the doughy gut. Is it encouragement if it is motivated by self interest?
Guilt, anger, even seemingly innocent approaches like encouragement and compliments can be forms of manipulation. What is boils down to is being led. Are you finding yourself doing something you didn't particularly want to do because you didn't want to anger them, or make them upset, avoid a scene or awkwardness, or because you wanted to please them? Take a step back and consider their motivations. Watch for patterns. Watch for their response when you don't want to play their game. If it's more than innocent, they won't let it go.
5) They lie. Do I even need to go into this? Did you catch them lying? Was it a worse lie than telling you you look amazing and don't need to go to the gym? #Bye. And you, you be honest too, even about the small things. If you don't like sports, don't say you like sports. If you don't know what they're talking about, ask them to explain. Don't paper potential relationships with lies, you won't like the road that turns into.
Please feel free to comment if you, or someone you know, has been affected by an Asshole.
Stay genuine, my friends, and know your worth.