154 Miles

About a year ago, I started doing life coaching with my friend Kate. Mary, #bff extraordinaire, had been working with her on growing her freelance business and I thought, “hmm…I wonder if Kate could do life coaching with me for building up my concept of self-worth.” See, while I had (and thankfully, still have) parents and friends who clearly loved me while I was growing up, I never really connected with that whole “you have value independent of the tasks you’re able to perform” thing. That’s where Kate came in, asking questions that made me look at myself a different way. And after a few months of intentional, pointed conversations, it was clear that was I growing so I took a big step and plunged into online dating. I spent my Sunday afternoons chronicling my “adventures” on this blog for several weeks, partly because they were so ridiculous that they became hilarious, and partly because I wanted to help show all of my friends who are considering online dating that it’s actually not all that scary. And while I met more than a few, umm, special people, I got connected with a pretty great one. We’ve spent the past several months learning more about each other and having 8+ hour dates. He brings me flowers and I send him little care packages to his office. And it’s great.

Only, he and I live 2 1/2 hours away from each other. Our lives are busy and complicated and I only get to see him every 3 or 4 weeks. After I hang up the phone from talking with him, I think through these things and that’s where I stop: with sadness that for the time being, the bulk of my “time” with this man isn’t in person.

Today, though, I had a revelation. See, on one of our last phone calls I was explaining how everything just feels so crazy right now in pretty much every area of life. The Boy pointed out that as long as my foundation is solid and made up of what actually matters, I’ll always ultimately be ok. Things around me can get shaky and feel like they’re crashing down but if a strong foundation has been laid properly, I can rebuild whatever falls. Today I connected that conversation to these moments, when I’m sad because what I want more than pretty much anything is just to be able to actually look into his eyes when I talk to him and I realized that I can see the distance as a huge burden or as an opportunity to lay a solid foundation. I have no idea whether I’ll marry this guy, or the next guy, or the guy after that, but I do know that I want a relationship rooted in good communication. Having 90+% of learning about someone happen over the phone is an insurmountable task if you don’t connect with that person communication-wise. So today, I’m choosing to see a blessing in this.

But don’t me wrong; long distance still sucks. A lot.

I’m not sure I would’ve been able to handle a long-distance relationship with someone in a healthy way if a good friend hadn’t helped me learn more about the value I have. I definitely have moments of doubt where I think (and typically text these questions to this patient man I have found) “why is this guy even with me!?” but those are undoubtedly fewer and farther between than they would have been 18 months ago. I now know a bit more about what I bring to the table in a relationship. The man I wind up marrying will be lucky, indeed.

And I’m positive I will be, too.

Five Dates

Hey there, kids!

So, remember that guy I told you about? The one I first mentioned here, went on a date with here, and deactivated my online dating accounts for here? Well, in case you hadn’t gathered it via my mentions of “the boy” on social media, we’re officially together. If we lived in the 1950s, I’d wear his letterman’s jacket to our high school football games. Only I’m 29, he’s 34, and I don’t think he had a letterman’s jacket. Plus, I was in the marching band so I didn’t get to sit with non-band nerds. I also don’t think he ever would’ve gone to a high school football game. This metaphor is getting away from me. Moving on.

When I was in high school, I would grumble to my friend Christine (among others) about not having a boyfriend. Her response was that she was confident that I’d only have to have one boyfriend and he would be “the one.” For a long time, I believed her. When I didn’t date in college, I held onto that statement for dear life: one boyfriend and I’d marry him. [Andy, if you’re reading this, please don’t freak out.] But now that I’m actually in a relationship, I cling less tightly to that idea. [Told you not to freak out.] I mean, I wouldn’t be dating this man if there were red flags flying everywhere – I do want to get married one day. But truthfully, I wasn’t the type of girl who could’ve handled a relationship with someone knowing it was, more likely than not, just temporary. I’m still not that type of girl. Which brings me to the crux of what I want to say: there is nothing wrong with being 29 and just now pursuing a relationship.

There are those who are masters at recognizing that some people are only in our lives for seasons. That most relationships have an expiration date of sorts and that when it happens, you accept it and move on. It doesn’t mean they’re detached or not fully invested in their relationships, just that they understand this as a fact of life. I am not one of those people. I mean, I still miss Carly, my best friend during kindergarten. I do not let go easily or well. I pretty much do the opposite, grasping as tightly as I can to someone even when I know I’m supposed to let go. Could you imagine me “casually dating”? That could not possibly end well!

So, ladies (and gentlemen) out there who may be wired similarly, please don’t be discouraged when your Facebook newsfeed shows you that your friend Jenny is “in a relationship” for the third time this year. She’s built differently than you are. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. And, most importantly, believe me when I say that there isn’t anything “wrong” with you for not involving yourself in casual relationships. You and I were made purposefully, intentionally, and beautifully. That’s something that’s taken me the better part of 29 years to learn – I hope your learning curve is faster than mine.

Happy Weekend,

Week 12: Moments in the Woods

Ok. So, Sunday I deactivated my online dating profiles.

Before you start to panic that maybe I’ve lost my mind, let me explain. A few weeks ago I went on a date with a man (Week 8 of this adventure) and it went well. Like, really well. And, because I have no frame of reference for what a normal first date is supposed to look like (see: the worst first date of all time), I’ve spent the last few weeks driving myself (and my friends) crazy. Is this normal, having a date that lasts 8 hours? What does this mean? Am I supposed to call him? He lives 2 1/2 hours away – how do I deal with the distance thing? Am I supposed to be talking to other guys? And is it crazy that I don’t really want to?

Thankfully for my nerves, I’ve seen him twice this week: first here in the ‘ville, then in St. Pete. Each of those dates lasted well over nine hours and I’m pretty sure that if we could have stayed out longer, we would have. Spending that massive a chunk of time with someone on a second or third date seems (to me, at least) a bit crazy, but when you factor in the facts that our schedules are both full and we live about 150 miles away from each other, it makes sense. Plus, it’s just so easy to spend the day with him. He’s smart enough to keep me on my toes and ridiculous enough to make up meanings with me for the paintings in the Dali museum (an insurmountable task for some, believe me).

Now, I know what you’re thinking: I just met this guy a few weeks ago. We’ve only been on a handful of dates. There’s a lot of physical distance between the two of us. All completely valid points and things I’ve spent hours mulling over in my head. Still, though, I deactivated the accounts because something about having access to look up other guys that I’m “compatible” with makes me feel uneasy. It isn’t exactly shady but it definitely doesn’t feel right.

I’m not saying this guy is going to be my husband. At this point, I’m not even sure he’s my boyfriend (though Kristi has different thoughts on that subject). What I am saying is that given what I’ve learned about him, he deserves my undivided attention.

Weeks 10 & 11

I didn’t write a blog update last week. I almost didn’t write one today and there’s a good reason: there’s not a whole lot to update you guys on. These past two weeks I haven’t really done anything with my online dating accounts. I mean, if people take the time to message me, I write them back but I haven’t really sought out any new potential matches. I have, however, spent the past two weeks getting to know a bit more about the man I went on a date with a few weeks ago.

It’s an interesting internal debate I have going on: I only went on one date with this guy. We’d established that one date did not equal exclusivity and that’s not anything I’d ask of him at this point (I’m a girl, but I’m not a psycho girl). But the more I get to know about him, the less time I want to devote to looking for someone else.

For clarity’s sake, I am absolutely NOT stating that this man is “the one” for me. I don’t know enough about him to know that he isn’t though, and that’s why I’m stalling a bit. Tomorrow I’ll be spending a good amount of time with him and hopefully will gain some clarity.

Wish me luck!

Week 9: Don’t Jump

Happy Sunday! Or, if you’re a teacher like me, Unhappy Last Day of Vacation Before Real Life Resumes! I should probably be working on my lesson plans or updating my literacy stations for this semester but there’s just too much in my head that has to come out first. So, thanks for being here to help me wade through it all. #externalprocessor

A week or so ago, I went on a really nice date with a really nice man. There’s plans to go out again but that won’t happen until my next day off of work which isn’t for a few more weeks. So until then, I’m in an awkward limbo stage. One date does not equal exclusivity, even if it was an 8+ hour date (a fact I confirmed with this man. Mary warned me that one should typically not ask these types of questions but truly, I don’t care. And he was gracious about it, very clearly communicating his opinion on the subject and assuring me that while we weren’t exclusive, he did like me and was excited about getting to see me again).

Now what?

No, seriously, I’m asking: what do I do now?

I feel conflicted. I’m not saying that this particular man is the man who will be my husband – I think you’d need to have me committed if I was making that claim after knowing someone for a matter of weeks. And I’ve met a few new people on both christianmingle.com and eHarmony.com who seem nice enough, but there’s something intriguing about this other guy. I like him.

Ugh. I’m such a girl.

I’m a very impatient person. Having a plan at all times is a necessity and I thrive when there’s structure, stability, and security. But I have no way to plan for this and in the absence of a plan, I jump back. I analyze every conversation and decide that they all point to not what’s obvious (that this has potential) but to something negative. If I let myself, I will sabotage every relationship I have, whether it’s a friendship or something romantic.

The point of that entire last paragraph is that by admitting that this is my pattern, I can change it. It’s possible that there’s nothing beyond a second date with this particular man, but I can’t count myself out before I find out.

Yeah. Not a bad week, but not a happy, bubbly fun week. Thank goodness for the distraction of work that starts again tomorrow!

And, because I can’t close out one of these posts without something ridiculous that’s happened, one of the guys I’m talking to on christianmingle.com can’t spell. Like, pretty much at all. I’m not the best speller ever but I know that neighbor isn’t spelled “naubor” and this guy doesn’t. It makes me question his claim that he has a Bachelors degree.

Alright, I can only procrastinate finishing my lesson plans for so long. Thanks for giving me the space to work through these thoughts. And for not judging me out loud or to my face. 🙂

Week 8

Happy 2 Months of this online dating adventure to me!

First off, I got this on Christmas Day from eHarmony.com. One lonely stocking hanging on the fireplace. Well played, eHarmony. Well played.

thanks, eHarmony!

thanks, eHarmony!

Also, checking off something else from my “30 Before 30” checklist, I went on a date with a man I met on the internet that actually counteracted this date. THANK GOD. Literally and genuinely. He’s a nice man – a bit odd, but then again, I’m a bit odd too. We wandered around Downtown Disney, drank too much coffee, and sat on a bench overlooking a lake after the sun went down, chatting, laughing, and holding hands.

I learned quite a few important things this past Friday that I thought I’d share. Ready?

  1. If you tell your family and/or friends that you’re going out with a man you met on the internet, be prepared for several phone calls and text messages. Especially if your date is planned for 3:00 pm and you don’t get back to your mom’s house where you’re spending the night until 1:45 am.
  2. Texting “I’m not dead” is only appropriate if you’ve cracked jokes with the recipient about how you’ll check in to prove you’re not dead. Otherwise, you may freak your sister out. Sorry, Kelly.
  3. Don’t go to Downtown Disney the day after Christmas unless you’re ok with either a) looking for a parking spot for over an hour or b) parking over 3 miles away and taking a bus to get there.
  4. There is at least one man who finds me physically attractive. (Somewhere at least 2 of my friends are reading this and screaming “I HAVE TOLD YOU THIS FOR YEARS!!” at their smartphones. Yes. You were right.) Considering the bullying that happened to me growing up, understanding/believing this is a new development for me. And it feels strange and amazing.
  5. Having a good date with a man who lives far away from you and leads a busy life is almost worse than not dating at all. You know the possibility for spending more time getting to know someone you’re interested in exists, it’s just not anytime soon.

So, yeah. I have no idea what might happen in the future. For right now, it is more than enough to say that I like what I know about him so far and look forward to going on another date with him. Even if the earliest it can be is mid-January. :-/

Week 7

This past week I attempted to give control of my online dating life to one of my guy friends but it didn’t fit into his schedule for the week. I’m still curious to see if he’d get better results than I do so maybe this week he’ll have more time. Please Matt, for the love of GOD have better results than I do on my own!

Since I was on vacation last week, I don’t really have a list of the week’s events like I normally would. I do, however, have a letter to post and this week seems as good a time as any.

Dear Online Dating Matchmakers,

First off, yes, I do realize that the matchmaking done online is probably just a computer algorithm and does not come from an actual person. As much as I’d like to think that there’s some little old lady sitting behind a huge computer, scanning dozens upon dozens of profiles until she spots one and murmurs to herself, “oh, that one looks like he could be a good man for Kyla,” I know there isn’t (but I mean, come on now. Wouldn’t that be awesome?). Still, though, I have a few questions.

Question 1: why are 75% of my matches named “Keith,” “Charles,” or “Kyle”? “Keith” is my brother’s name, “Charles” is my dad and “Kyle” is only one letter off from my name. Was “his name is almost spelled the same as her name” one of the criterion in the algorithm? Because if so, you should maybe reconsider that.

Question 2a: A HUGE number of my matches are in the military. I’m a bit of a pacifist. Is it just that these are the men who’ve signed up for online dating or do you just think you’re funny matching me with them?
Question 2b: Same question, only about people who say they’d rather be outdoors hiking or running marathons than doing anything else. Is there a box I can uncheck for that? I’m pretty sure I need to do that.

And finally, the following is from an actual conversation that one of my friends had with one of her matches. While I realize this particular man is an outlier and not the standard, it needs to be shared (plus, she said it was ok).
“As for physical attraction…it is CRITICAL that I find a woman who would let me smell her bare feet every night, because the look and smell of a woman’s bare feet are absolutely the focus of my attraction (the more they smell, the better – I love the way a woman’s feet smell after having been in shoes all day. Maybe I’m weird, but I am who I am).”

I have no words. I do have a terrified, shocked scream for this particular interaction, but no actual words.

Come on, internet. Hook a girl up (just not with a creeper)!