Social media and my anxiety – a hard truth

This morning, I read this piece in the NY Post about online lives vs. reality. What we post on social media vs. how we actually live. And how our friends’ posts can make us feel anxious or depressed about our own lives as we inevitably compare ourselves to others. I am definitely guilty of this across the board. My posts on Facebook and Instagram don’t necessarily reflect how I feel at the moment AND I constantly compare myself to others. It’s easier to post something lighthearted like, “I can’t wait to go home and take off my bra” than it is to post something terrible about your day like, “Well, I THOUGHT B3 and I were getting back together but then he made me split the check at the Hooters in Costa Mesa, so I guess not?”

This is where my anxiety lies. I look at posts of people happy in relationships, engaged or married, and they make it look easy. Like it was easy to meet someone, and it just worked. And their relationship is perfect, and I can’t find that. (Side note – don’t stop posting these things. It is important for us cynics to believe love is possible.)

I remember very vividly sitting in a meeting at work, in 2008, and being stressed. I wasn’t stressed about the topic of the meeting, I was stressed about how I wasn’t married yet. At 27. And now, at 34, I am no closer. Within a year of that meeting, I was sitting at a bar with a college friend who said to me, “you know you’re going to be 35 and single.” While that comment was hurtful enough, it was also said with the implication that being 35 and single is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to a human.

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To make matters worse, I am now second guessing every single decision I have ever made because if I had done one or two things differently, maybe I wouldn’t have lost the opportunity to have my father walk me down the aisle. As I sat in the ICU on the day he died, I knew it was my fault we’d never share that moment. And there was nothing I could do to change it.

Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Sure, I’m on a dating site, but yesterday I got a FIRST message from a guy and all it said was, “do you want to see my penis?” (Hard pass – pun not intended)

And then while I’m trying not to try too hard because it’s supposed to be easy with the right person, there’s all the advice I get that is well meaning but unhelpful:

you slept with him too quickly

you didn’t sleep with him soon enough and he thought you didn’t like him so he moved on

you’re too picky

you’re not picky enough

don’t text him first

don’t wait for him to text you

you have to wait at least 17 minutes to respond but if you wait 17 minutes and ten seconds he’s already met someone else

if he hasn’t committed after the third date, run away

you run away too fast

don’t pressure him

but if he doesn’t like you right away, he’s just not that into you

go online

online dating sucks

get a hobby

stand up for yourself

don’t be a bitch

act casual

you’re acting too casual

stop going to Chili’s!

ad nauseum….

I am not writing this for “likes” or sympathy. I am writing this to say that if you also feel anxious or depressed or like you’re not good enough – know you are not alone. Know that it’s easier to post a picture of Newport Beach on Thanksgiving with the hashtag #luckiest than to admit you feel like a failure because you’re not with the guy who made you think, for at least a brief period, that things would be different, and work out. Know that if you feel in any way close to what I feel, that you can come talk to me. And bring wine.

 

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In which we discuss not dating

I realize that I haven’t updated this blog in a while, but it’s hard to blog about dating when you’re actively NOT dating. Pretty sure no one in interested in reading about my new pure barre obsession or my Friends marathons on Netflix.

My last date was in December, I think, because I’m not counting what happened after Stage 5 and before I decided dating and I were on a break because even I have a threshold of WTF that I won’t post here because it’s just too bizarre. Suffice it to say that if you establish that you are just friends with someone you should REALLY STICK TO THAT UNLESS YOU ARE BOTH SURE lest you end up with an awkward email begging for

It’s interesting when your focus changes. I have a pair of jeans that I haven’t been able to fit into since 2011 that I’m determined to zip in the next couple months. I’m going to Hawaii later this month. Actively not dating means a 10000% reduction in stress in your life. Who knows how long it will last, but this is my attitude moving forward:

 

 

 

 

 

In which we discuss stage 5 clingers

…disclaimer brought to you by Phoebe Buffay – “now I can’t stress this point too strongly…this story isn’t real”:

You have a friend. Your friend is not so good at the dating. It seems her only options are, “beating heart ripped out of chest” or “running away from stage 5 clingers.”

But, she’s been Mopey McMoperson for a fucking year over a douchelord who is an emotional sadist, so you tell her to get back out there and try her luck, because the path to ever lasting love does not involve watching Netflix at 4 am.

So, she gets online. Right away, she is matched with a guy who seems polite and normal. Their first date consists of beers at a sports bar.

Her date is nice but seems overly enthused. Which she is not used to, really, so she thinks it is weird he’s overly affectionate, like how when he gets up to go to the bathroom less than 45 minutes into the date kisses her as he gets up from the table.

But, as we’ve already determined, your friend is inept, so maybe that’s normal? She’s not sure. It’s also weird that he seems so gung ho over her when he hasn’t asked her many questions about herself, so maybe he’d just be that excited over a plant. Who knows.

At the end of the date, Mr. Seemingly-Normal-Until-the-Other-Shoe-Drops-But-We’ll-Get-to-That asks her to go home with him but she politely declines because it’s not like they were dry humping at the table and she gave him any indication that the evening was headed in that direction.

But they DO plan a second date, and he tells her that he will make her dinner at his place which in RETROSPECT was not a good idea.

As date number two approaches, your friend begins to get more nervous, as is par for the course with her, because she scares easily when people genuinely like her. But, she goes and tries to have a positive attitude but in the millisecond that she sees him when he comes to retrieve her from the parking lot she’s all, “yeah, no” and then spends most of the date pretty much like this:

Now, it is important to mention that she wanted to be honest with this guy so told him that she wasn’t sure what she was looking for but that she was still struggling with feelings for her ex because I guess it is easier to be honest when you have nothing invested and maybe being honest up front is the better way to go. But HIS response was something along the lines of, “well, I am ready to commit to you exclusively right now…or we can just have sex.” Pause for reaction.

Now, at this point she’s regretting that they aren’t in public so she can’t just peace the fuck out and at some point must have agreed that they could still hang out and see what happens because when she gets home (two hours later, which seemed like at least eight) he has texted her to tell her that she is going to LOVE what he is planning and where he is taking her later on in the week. She is confused – she thought she meant hanging out in a causal sense like hanging out without expectations or whatnot and he’s in a completely different chapter planning surprise dates that she is not comfortable with.

So, the next day she decides to rip off the band-aid and just tell him that she can’t see him anymore. She sends this via text because that is allowed after only two dates and no exchange of last names, correct?

He doesn’t immediately respond, so she feels like she is in the clear and is relieved. Just disappearing without explanation is kind of shitty and as much as it sucks, even over text, to tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore, she felt like she did the right thing.

But nope – spoke too soon. The responses start coming in. First a text: why, what’s up? Followed by another one: I was really hoping you wouldn’t tell me this over text. Followed by a phone call. Immediately followed by another phone call AND voice mail. (And that, my friends, is an A+ in How to Get Blocked 101)

Which okay – come on, dude. Really? First of all, I cannot tell you how many dudes have disappeared on me (I mean YOUR FRIEND) after we’d (they’d) been through more than two dates, second of all this all seems a little excessive considering she was upfront about her feelings and third of all, there are surely people reading this who feel like in the below GIF your friend is clearly Rachel and they are everyone else and this depicts them trying to get her to make reasonably logical decisions in general when it comes to dating (like maybe don’t go to a dude’s apartment on the second date because it might unleash the Stage 5).

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And your friend is all

ANYWAY. This entirely made up story is just another in the endless “dating sucks” stories we see on a daily basis. Fun times.

A sort of not really review: The Between Boyfriends Book

Cindy Chupack was a writer on Sex and the City, and wrote a book (published in 2004) that Susan insisted that I read: The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays.

I started reading this earlier today and this shit is hilarious. For example, Chapter One’s title: Lone Rangered. The definition of course is “to have had a relationship end in a mysterious annoying way – with no good-bye, no answers, just the vague feeling that you have no idea who that man was.” And I will also throw in an addendum to that ….”and you wonder if you made the whole thing up in your head and since there is no photographic evidence that you dated, maybe your friends think you made him up too, and oh GOD how many of your past relationships lack any sort of photographic evidence and what is going ON?” Not that this applies to my current situation or anything.

She talks about Sexual Sorbet and how “you don’t want your ex to be the last guy you slept with. You need to put some distance between the two of you, and five to seven inches ought to do it.” She recommends using an old fling and then I realize … was I B3’s proverbial sorbet that he needed to get over the ex-future Mrs. B3 even though I thought it could be more even though yes I know he TOLD me he didn’t want anything serious but sometimes did confusing things that made me think he was my boyfriend because my bar for comparison had been set so low because it took me five years to figure out that John Doe was left handed because we never did things together that required him to write or sign a credit card slip for the dysfunctional love of GOD what is wrong with me?

There’s a relationship equivalency exam for both men and women. Let me take mine here:

1) English: When you say, “I’m not in a rush to get married,” define rush.

Answer: So, bringing saved photos of rings I like to the first date is bad, right?

2) Math: Is the amount of minutes it takes you to evaluate a date as a potential husband more than or equal to the amount of minutes it takes you to identify and ignore red flags?

Answer: What?

3) Psychology: Other than abject fear, what are some possible reactions to the words, “I need space?”

Answer: I need wine?

Questions 4 & 5 are essentially about cohabitation and therefore I am not qualified to answer so I guess if this were a pass/fail type of format I’d fail, because is incomplete an option?

She defines Halloweenies as dudes who will break up with you on Halloween so they don’t have to go through the holiday season with you and if you don’t break up on or before October 31st you are basically obligated to stick it out through New Years because what kind of rat bastard breaks up with someone over the holidays? (Lots, I am sure, for both sexes)

She talks about the dreaded “f” word – friends, which B3 used a lot in the same sentences he would talk about our dates, and when he initially offered to be my friend, I was all “sure” and look where that got me, and Chupack wrote something that hit way too close to home, which is that you basically have to accept the offer of friendship because if you don’t, it’s essentially giving them the satisfaction of knowing it’s too hard to be around them, and this is satisfaction on top of the ego boost from them already rejecting you, so even though deep down all the way to your bone marrow you KNOW that you should tell them to take a flying leap, when faced with the offer of friendship, you inevitably have to accept. And then when you, say, spend six hours watching football and having a blast, you wonder why you can have so much fun, yet they still don’t want to date you?

This brings me to Chapter 30: DO NOT RESUSCITATE ROMANCE (DNRR) ORDER. Which is exactly what it sounds like, which is why Susan told me to read this, because I have broken this rule now four or five times with Mr. Man. It’s my exact situation in print – knowing we had no future but continuing to date him and then becoming upset when the no future thing never changed (and never will). It’s time for me to regain my focus and get back to my “Hey Baby” weight and by the way this book is hilarious and everyone should read it.

 

Halfway there

How in the hell are we already halfway done with 2014? I legitimately do not understand. This year is flying, more so than any recent ones that I can remember.

May was a hard month for me. Well, actually in April I was awarded the honor of being Dumbass of the Century when I started seeing B3 again, and then stopped, and then started, and didn’t tell anyone, because of course the sign of a good relationship is when you can’t tell anyone about it because they will be all

And you’re like

Even though they have EVERY RIGHT TO JUDGE YOU BECAUSE MY GOD. And as you write this, you’re all, “oh and B-T-DUBS, he was SUPPOSED to take me out last week for my birthday but instead all I got were texts about the NHL playoffs, which I don’t give a fuck about, so you know what buddy, you can BITE ME.”

But May wasn’t hard for that reason alone, May was hard because at the end of April I got hit in the eye with a softball while attempting (badly) to play in the outfield, and it broke my eye socket, and I had to have very painful surgery and looked like the Bride of Chucky for most of the month. On the bright side, I had a solid dose of Vicodin and was able to dull the pain. But I missed a lot of work and stressed about that because it essentially boiled down to missing work because I can’t catch a fucking softball.

So now, I’m trying to regroup because I’ve been scared to do things like go to the gym and put on eye makeup.

It is truly amazing how much your life can change in a day/month/year.

In which we discuss online dating

One of my friends is on OKCupid, and has really weathered some absolute bullshit because she’s a trooper, and I’ve just listened to her stories over G-Chat, vowing never again to test the waters of online dating.

Well, today she received two messages that just speak for themselves in terms of WTF. First, we have bachelor #1:

okc1

Okay first of all, the grammatical errors. Your vs. you’re is one of the most common yet infuriating grammatical errors that will automatically eliminate you from her and my dating pool. If that makes us snooty bitches, then so be it.

Second of all, who is he kidding with the 300 pounds comment? I mean, sure it was said in jest, but if my friend were even ten pounds heavier than her picture (she’s not) I am sure he’d run for the nearest cliff.

Bachelor #2 sent her something that was EERILY similar:

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Both of them with the weight and the teeth and the misuse of your/you’re. Are these the messages we’re sending now? I don’t even know how to do this anymore but isn’t there a way to be witty without being offensive?

I really wonder what goes in to sending messages like this. Of course I’ve sent many a first message I thought was witty in which I was brutally rebuffed, so who knows. It’s obviously an exact science that involves a certain amount of cleavage and teeth.

But these are two very similar messages from two different people. So originality is out the window.  No wonder shows like I Wanna Marry “Harry” exist. What else is there to do?

More guilt

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with one of my friends, stemming from a separate conversation with someone else. One of my friends told me a few people had been saying horrible things to her about her posting text and OKCupid messages on her Instagram, basically saying, “no wonder you’re single.” I found that to be a bit harsh and incredibly rude. She posts these things with comments in an attempt to keep a sense of humor about dating in general.

Dating in your 30’s is not the same as dating in your 20’s. It seems like there is a lot more at stake, for the girl, if she wants to have kids, and feels the clock is a-tickin’.

When you wind up stuck in the three-date curse or sitting in a parking garage crying or getting ridiculous texts, etc, sometimes all you can do is try to laugh it off. I bet these people, who said such horrible things to my friend, are all Taylor Swift fans. Well, every single one of her fucking songs are about dating gone awry, yet she is famous, makes a gajillion dollars a year and has won every award imaginable. And I mean, Jagged Little Pill, hello? While I still wholeheartedly refuse to believe that album was about Uncle Joey, it became the breakup anthem for a while and launched Alanis Morissette into uncharted waters. And while she has not actually spoken up about who inspired the song “You Outta Know”, she still wrote it, so we know it was about someone and came from a very dark place.

Anyway. I find comments like that, “no wonder you’re single,” to not only be hurtful, but are also more than likely coming from a very hypocritical place. And all these people were single until they weren’t.

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But it did get me thinking a lot. Is that what people think about me? No wonder I’m single because of this blog and book (the book that’s like, 500 words at this point after I lost it all when my laptop shit the bed)? Mr. Titspervert once told me I should not feel guilty about writing about him, and that was a comment I appreciated, especially because it was unsolicited.

So, I asked one of my guy friends what he thought. He said I shouldn’t feel guilty, but at the same time need to think about how I’d feel if these guys were writing about me. That kind of sent me to a bad place. I leave out really personal and identifying details, but it was pointed out to me that I should not act like I am doing them a favor for leaving out details. Then I was all, “wait a minute, like four people read my blog, who actually cares?”  I try to make this a mostly humorous take on dating disasters and keep it lighthearted. Maybe did a bad job of that recently in regards to B3.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about came up on Facebook. My friend Amy moved to Boston recently and just started dating someone. She has been posting cute little updates about their dates, but nothing overly personal or even remotely out of line. Then I log in earlier in the week to see her status as the following (and yes, I asked her if I could use it):

So I’ve been getting a lot of flack offline for “over sharing” on Facebook this past week regarding my dating life. Here’s what I have to say about it. A) this person is not on Facebook. B) I have selflessly liked all your wedding/baby/whatever posts for years. C) If you have a problem with what I share on here, unfriend me. D) I haven’t dated anyone in SIX YEARS. Every time I post a dating update I deserve resounding applause. For all the above reasons. I’m done with your complaints. Shut it and attempt to be happy for me. Love and thanks 🙂

First thing’s first: pause for reaction:

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Second of all, she makes an interesting point, in that why is it okay for us to post things about relationships becoming permanent (engaged, married, etc) but not about being excited about the early stages? Not even kidding, I was planning on posting the first pic taken of B3 and I (there wasn’t one) and just posting it with the caption “Suddenly I See” or something like that because I was g-o-n-e but such a picture does not exist and then we were Facebook friends briefly and I kept all comments about my dating life completely absent because I wanted to be mindful of his feelings and I do hate when people over share in an uncomfortable way on Facebook or when couples fight on Facebook. But that’s not what Amy was doing at all. And it was great to see her school everyone, because she has a very valid point.

Should I feel bad about making fun of myself for some bad decisions I’ve made? No. And I really do try to make it more about me than them, not in a selfish way, but so it doesn’t come across that I will write about every single person that I date. That is not the goal at all. The original intent was to focus on 2007-2013, my years in Chicago, and the incredibly stupid yet hilarious things that happened. When I moved to California, I was not expecting to date or meet anyone for a while, it just happened, and I see myself repeating a bad pattern with B3, which is how I ended up writing about him. It’s more for me to work things out through writing, rather than to be hurtful to them or overshare-y or anything like that, yet I sit here trying to justify a very personal decision as if anyone even cares. Does anyone even care? Am I thinking too much?

There is no right answer here because obviously some people are not going to like what I write, but I’m not going to stop doing it.