Thursday, March 25, 2010

Two (un)related dating items

Last night I drank a first (2) beer(s) at one of my favorite beer and sandwich spots, The Parish Cafe on Boylston, with a new OKCupid guy. 

He's a post-doc in genetics at Harvard Medical, engineer by training, claims to have practiced yoga on occasion. We met at 10:15 and were both fading by 11:15. But we did manage 2 full hours of conversation -- mostly opinions regarding (too suburban, agreed) and OKC (he trusted the compatibility algorithms, I saw them only as rough guides and gateways), and then an extended, bantering discourse on how he had become drunk off of one Blue Moon and I was still lucid after 2 Left Hand Brewing Milk Stouts.

[I know it's cliche to live in this city and expect high-level academic discourse whenever Harvard (and in last night's case, Stanford and Brown, too.... and, furthermore, what is it about my ability to attract Brown alumni, this being my FIFTH?) comes attached to a date CV. I just don't expect queries about how I might have answered specific questions on online dating quizzes. ]

In any case, after we both relaxed into it, Harvard post-doc and I had a decent vibe not to be totally discounted. I think we will meet up again. He's out of town for a week; when he comes back we'll do a Southie dive-bar crawl. More to follow, perhaps.

In the meantime, I found myself fretting this morning after reading today's "Love Letters" column on  The subject:  "She Dotes on Her Men."  The downlow: the author, in past dating scenarios, has "waited hand and foot" on men as her way of demonstrating she cares for them; one of her guy friends has told her to lighten up and "act more equal" and now she's worried that this instinct is "unhealthy."

Then I read through the reader comments to this post, and most agreed that, indeed, she needs to back off and avoid a smother-fest. The following one specifically caught my eye:

"I read a book a while ago, called 'Why Men Love B*tches'. Don't be deceived by the title; she didn't mean you should treat a guy like crap. To quote the author, Sherry Argov: 'Women need to understand that trying too hard and sacrificing yourself turns guys off, and pretty much guarantees you'll be taken for granted and dumped.' Here is a quote from a guy on her website: 'Men need to put in some work to really appreciate what they get. When a woman gives too much, too soon, she is viewed as absolutely positively BORING to men.'

I read this and recalled Claudia's advice from Monday (and from countless previous conversations) about the emotional and situational perils of making myself just the right balance of "available." I recall how I struggle (and frequently worry to distraction) with, when interested in someone, I don't know how to show myself as interested and caring enough, but not too interested and caring.

Oy. Headache.


veggiegal said...

Indeed, headache... I don't believe in the whole "playing hard to get" thing though. I think women in their 30's should be done with playing boy-girl games. Looking back at the beginning of the relationship with the person who is now my spouse, I see something interesting - all he cared about was that I have my own full life.

This became very clear when a particular situation arose: I had planned a trip to Yellowstone with a friend, before I met him. It wasn't all set in stone, but it was taking shape. The trip was to take place about 2.5 months later. By the time the date of the trip was close, we were seeing each other A LOT. My mother (that I do love but don't always agree with), kept telling me I should talk to him about it, to make sure he is not offended that I am going on this trip without him, since things are looking good between us. I told her there is no way, but she planted just enough doubt that I talked to him about it. I told him straight out this is not a worry of mine, but a worry of my mother's and that I figured it couldn't hurt to check in. His answer surprised me (and is the point of this story): He told me he would have probably BROKEN UP with me had I CANCELED the trip on his account, because that would have been a worrisome sign to him of too much dependency. He was very blunt about it. I went, I had a blast, I got a couple of SUPER cute text messages from him, I called him once in the 5 days I was away, and the rest is "history".

So I think the balance is - don't bend your own life to accommodate a date. If you have a rehearsal for instance, let him know you're busy, rather than try to squeeze another hour or two out of the night because that's HIS free night. You have a VERY full life based on what I read here, so it shouldn't be a problem for you to put your life first, until things get to the point where you really start thinking like a couple.

Just my 0.75 cents... OK, this comment is almost longer than the original blog entry - probably a sign I should stop ;)

vteyes said...

I read with my own angst the LL column today..I am also a 'giver' and tend to try and do things to please my current SO..wanting them to appreciate me and see how well we 'work together'. I give with no expectation in return..I give because seeing them happy makes me happy...yet after reading LL today I wonder if I am also making myself too " available" that it might in some way be a turn off...that I might scare away someone I truly care about..

Karin said...

@veggiegal. You (and your husband) really nailed it:

"....all he cared about was that I have my own full life."

What an attractive quality in a partner. In one swoop it can remove the patina of jealousy or envy or possessiveness. It shows that someone is interested in what you do and who you are....not simply that they're with you to make them happy.