Monday, September 10

The Love Rollercoaster

I have an amazing cousin.  Actually, I'm blessed with a lot of amazing cousins.  On one side of my family, I am the second oldest of 14 cousins, edged out only by my sister.

A couple of years ago, I was forced to admit that one of my younger cousin's is officially cooler than me.  (This is probably true about most of my cousins and isn't that hard to be). It's an upsetting blow to any "older" family member, especially an unnecessarily competitive one like me.

But she's sort of my spirit animal.  She finds cool music and stays up way too late and loves comedy that's not on TV yet and makes cool headpieces out of t-shirts when we are at the beach and would rather do cool "New Yorker things" than "New York things" when she comes to visit.  Thankfully, I have a few years on her, so I can play the older-and-wiser card, if I am forced to lose the "older-and-cooler" one.  Every day she's gaining on me there, too.

In one of our million 2 a.m. conversations, we were discussing relationships and our strict criteria for the men who enter our lives.

They are:
1) Cannot be named D***
2) Must love rollercoasters

I HATE writing about relationships, not because I'm some dark and twisty soul who thinks love is dead, but because whatever is learned from relationships is probably a lesson about yourself, and can be applied everywhere in life.  That's kind of more my jam.  But the scoreboard says that these are my most popular posts, and I am a woman of the people.  It's like that scene in A League of Their Own when Jimmy Dugan/Tom Hanks tells his players to hurry up because "dozens of people are waiting to see you play."  I have to give my dozens of readers what they want.  But I can't date Jimmy Dugan because he's an alcoholic.  And ficitonal.

The point is you all want me to be something I'm not, so I'm selling out and giving you a Carrie Bradshaw rundown of dating in your mid-20s in NYC with the aforementioned criteria of not being named D***, not being an alcoholic, and loving rollercoasters.

These may not seem like the most sound criteria, and it surprises me how many people ask for my relationship feedback when I haven't been in a relationship in quite a while.  Granted there's been an intense "focus on me" period that every 20 something is obligated to go through, but I guess I've picked up some relationship trends by watching from the stands.

I went speed-dating with my stupid sister who signed us up for it without asking me if I was available or if I wanted to do it.  The answer to both of those questions is no, but we did anyway.  For some reason, we were both trepidatious on the cab ride over with our hearts already racing before any suitors had a chance.

"We can get out and split a cake instead" I said to my sister, completely not at all joking in any way, shape, or form.

But we did it, and I'm glad we did.  How was I so nervous going into something I was completely close-minded to and had no expectations for?  These fears were quickly squelched when I remembered that they were just as scared as me, were just other human beings, and that I didn't actually give a shit about the outcome.

It's funny that just by sitting there and having a different conversation every four minutes (or really the same conversation every four minutes with different people) that I felt like I'd accomplished something.  Entering it, my best case scenario was that I'd walk away not interested in anyone that I met, but feeling as if my guard was low enough that I'd have as authentic of a conversation as possible, and that's exactly what happened.  I wasn't pleasantly surprised by a spark with anybody, but that's okay.  It reinforced my belief that my no-name, no-crippling-addiction, must-love-rollercoasters criteria are so open for a reason.

I'm attracted to someone's energy more than a "type."  I have no doubt that a lot of these guys will make for a great Prince Charming for somebody, take them out to great dinners and fit all of the attributes on their roller-coaster neutral check list.  But I've dated mohawked musicians to finance boys in jeans that cost more than my last paycheck.  I don't have a check list.  (Except it really helps if they're taller than me).

I guess that's why I never committed to online dating, in collaboration with the fact that I'd rather be single and wait for the right guy than be coupled with any guy kind of girl.  Some people are looking for a perfect handy man who provides financial stability and wants the 2-and-a-half kids and a mini-van life.  But I really just want an adventure buddy to laugh with. Of course, I want to be grounded enough to be serious, and I'm not so independent that there's no point in having another person around, but my default is fun and silly.  This was not available in a sea of Young Professionals Speed-daters.  They wanted to discuss what they do outside of their uninspired 9-to-5s and what part of New York City I live in and what my ideal date is.

The truth is, my ideal date would be to go to the Central Park boathouse, but if I'd gone with any of these guys, I'd be looking to jump into the water to get away and/or make it exciting.  I guess that's part of where my closed-mindedness started.  I'd rather be on date 3 at the boathouse, or date 5 watching bad TV in my sweats and eating take out than on date 1 talking about how your finance job pays the bills, but is burning you out.  Some even refused to talk about work, which not only totally made me think they were in the mob or porn industry, but is really hard--neigh--impossible when my job feels borderline vocational.

I doubt most people go into speed-dating looking for confirmation instead of a date, but I'm glad that it verified my odd and limited checklist.  My sister can sign me up for that awareness any day.

Now a few speed dating tips:
1) Don't take off your name tag and say it's because "you're a rebel like that."
2) Don't try to woo me with your Spanish guitar skills and ask if "you can buy me a drink and get out of here."
3) Don't bring up porn, even if the connection is that your sister did an off off broadway gig with a porn star and we're talking about "art."
4) Don't speak so quietly I can't hear a word you're saying.
5) Don't refer to the tram between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan as a "magic carpet/magic box."
6) Don't tell me the WWE is stupid.  I already know it is and I love it anyway.
7) Don't be named D***. (See above)
8) Don't tell me we "aren't going to talk about THOSE things that everyone else is."  Of COURSE we are.  This is awkward as hell.
9) Don't be a Red Sox fan.  That's just a tip about life, really.
10) Don't tell me you're "on break" with someone.

A word about number 10.  What the HELL does "on break" mean?  You're either dating someone or you are not dating someone.  Those are the only two things that are real.  I hate "on break" because 87% of the time it's just postponing a break up because you're both in denial that it isn't working out when "you're just so right for eachother."  Unfortunately love, like most of life, is a decision and a circumstance.  You can decide who is right for you (see rollercoaster preference), but their preferences, timing, fate, etc., may not fall into the delicate balance that looks so stubbornly right in the picture you've made, or stalked on the two of you on Facebook.

Here's the thing about being "on break."  It's a power struggle, intentionally or otherwise.  One person didn't want to be "broken up with temporarily or maybe forever," so they're stuck pacing back and forth between the friend zone and "someday," (which may never come) while the heartbreaker is off "working on themselves" and "just having fun with their friends" and "probably sleeping with other people and debating whether or not to tell you about it."

Rarely when a couple is on break are they actually working on the issues within themselves or their relationship, and if they are, they aren't "breaking" for shit.  The real kicker is, that usually the person who called for this break is stewing whatever complicated circumstances they created so that they had "something to get away from."

Let this person go.  The masochism of "hanging in there to see if it works out" is overpowering the fact that they are disrespecting you, even if you agreed to it, and frankly, if you're looking for a rest-of-your-life person, the circumstances are just going to get harder.  If they have one foot out the door already, you may want to close it for them, because they'll be sprinting for the streets when what lays ahead arrives.

Ask couples who have been married for over a decade how many breaks they've had, and how many they've felt like they needed.

Just remember, you're probably worth staying for.  I mean, do they even like rollercoasters?


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