Sunday, January 22, 2017

Notes to the Single Men from a Single Woman

(If this is too much for you, click here for the abridged version.)

Hello. It’s nice to meet you. I’m doing well, thank you. Yes, I slept well. Yes, thank you, I had a good week.

Are we done with the damn small talk yet?

I don’t post my relationship status on Facebook, because for many people the ‘single’ status can come across to others to be a secret code for ‘not wanting to be single’. That one word alone can attract a lot of attention. My ‘singleness’ shows in my posts: I have cats and drink wine. Duh.

There is one thing I learned from the Great Loves of my life: they seem to show up when I am not looking for it. I am not looking. Looking implies need and need implies lack. Right now, there is nothing missing from my life that I can’t get or do for myself. Nothing.

This is not relationship advice. As a single person, I am obviously unqualified to give any kind of relationship advice; but I am qualified to give a few pointers based on my singleship experience. Since I’m not the only single woman on this planet, I know I am not the only one who may feel this way.  

Every time I post a new profile picture on Facebook, I get new friend requests. Stop it. Don't friend request me because of my picture. This has nothing to do with vanity. I post pictures that I like; I’m not posting them for you. If I were the type of person that took pictures in hopes of getting certain attention from others, remember that it still stems from my own perspective of what I think ‘attractive’ is. We all have different preferences, different things that we find interesting at first sight. It’s the same way that we each have different likes in architecture or floral arrangements.

Besides, I already know I’m not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. I’m quite okay with that.

Don’t call me ‘beautiful’ more than once. If I don’t know you, that word means nothing to me, because you’ve obviously been fooled by the best one-out-of-three photo I had to choose from to post.

I will probably also think you were an idiot for not taking that into consideration.

You are beautiful. Do you think that we need to hear that? That silly word is used too much in separation – if there are two people in a room and only one is called beautiful, then the implication is that the other is not. What makes me beautiful, truly beautiful, has nothing to do with how I look. Outside of showering and brushing my hair, I have nothing to do with my looks, and my looks have nothing to do with who I am. Being called beautiful only matters when it comes from someone who knows me – me – who is not just talking about how I look on the outside (unless I’ve dressed up ‘for’ you – my effort needs to be appreciated!).

I do get that you could be interested by a picture of someone that you see on the Internet. Sometimes, if you’re not shallow, you can see something in a picture that is truly worth being interested in – outside of the obvious. If you’ve decided you want to talk to me solely based on a picture of me, your ‘interest’ is minimal. If I caught your attention with something I said or wrote, I consider that interest valid.

Don’t tell me that I ‘intrigue’ you. I don’t want to intrigue you; intrigue implies an interest based on a question that once answered will end. I am not a mystery. I don’t try to be. Don’t try to ‘figure me out’. Just let me be. Whatever you need to know about me – what any of us needs to know about anyone else – we learn without needing to ask, because it shows in so many ways.

Pay attention.

- but don’t lavish it. Don’t try to make me feel that you are 'all about’ me. I am the only one who should be that, and since you should be all about you, I will know you are not sincere. If you truly feel you are all about me, then I will know you feel something is missing from your life that you are looking for someone else to fill. I can’t and won’t handle that type of responsibility – and I will disappoint you.

If all you are looking for is a hook-up, be honest about it. If that was going to offend me, better to know earlier than later. I’d respect you more for your honesty – and if you contacted one of my friends and she asked about you, I might be a little nicer with what I had to say about you.

Pay VERY close attention to this part: We – us girls – actually talk to each other. Be very careful if your ‘interests’ overlap friendships or familial relations (if you are foolish enough to do that).

Stop ‘fishing’. If you have a question, ask. I am very direct. If I sense you are dancing around a question, I will call you on it and tell you to be straight with me. If you can’t handle direct, leave me alone. There are at least 6,999,999,999 other people to connect with if I want to – I have Internet.

The men I’ve encountered seem to have a problem with honesty and directness. I say ‘men’ because I’m talking about a specific type of interaction that I have with men that I don’t have with women. My best friend Donna will tell me she doesn’t have time for me because she wants to watch the football game or she’d rather do something else. I love that. I earnestly believe that that honesty should be part of all relationships and not just friendships.

With that being said, I believe that romantic relationships should be best-friendships. We tend to bring the best of ourselves – and bring out the best in the other person – when we want to be there. Donna doesn’t have to want to spend all of her time with me; she is allowed to have an interest in things that I can’t be bothered with. Those other interests of hers are part of what make her Donna, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I even allow her to have her own opinion, occasionally. :)   
Honesty and directness should even be a part of non-interest in someone. If someone doesn’t interest you, or if they are looking for something you don’t want – even if your interests has changed – let the other person know. People-pleasing is impossible; not everything you say or feel may be what someone else wants to hear, but it is still more welcome than a prevarication. When you are single, you are free to date/talk to/show interest in as many people as you like. If you decide you have a favorite, don’t string others along – especially not as ‘backup’. If you start getting serious with one, let the others know. By that same token, don’t be so foolish as to take on more than you can handle. A running text/message conversation with long pauses in between comments is an obvious sign of your lack of attention – or that your main attention is on something else. Tell the other person you are busy; tell him or her if you are seeing someone. You’ll hurt someone more by lying, avoidance, and that silly new cowardly trait of ‘ghosting’. (Yes, I said cowardly.)
Mother Theresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Many best-selling books on business and self-help have explained that same sentiment in many ways, regarding both meeting with and confronting people. The basic idea is that you should be aware of the fact that one of three things will happen in either situation:
·         the situation/meeting will improve or the connection will be deepened
·         the situation/meeting remains neutral or nothing will change
·         the situation/meeting will get worse or be hurtful to someone.
As human beings in general, if we strive to maintain or better any connection we have with another and to avoid worsening our dealings with them, we can be the best and truest versions of ourselves. That is the best way of showing love and respect for others – or, at least, common courtesy. Deep down, I don’t believe any one of us wants to have a list of people we know who feel bad about us because of something we did to them deliberately. If you care about yourself and how others treat you, then be mindful of how you treat them. Always. Even if you feel you will never see them again. You never know. At the very least, we can be fair to each other.

Right now, I’m not into looking for ‘relationships’ – because I feel everything is a relationship, and I'm enjoying every different kind. If someone interests you, go with it, without pushing or putting labels on anything in the beginning. Later on, sure, go for it. Talk, see where things lead – but let them take their own direction without forcing them one way. You never know the friendship – or even valuable interaction - you could miss out on because someone didn’t meet every checkpoint on your list.

If you are genuinely interested in someone and you’re both on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever, you can scroll down her most recent posts to see a little of what she’s like day to day. This will give you something to talk about. Comment on her posts, interact - don't jump into private messaging, asking for more attention. You might find out that she has cats; if you’re allergic, that could be a problem, and you’ll save time by knowing that in advance and can cross her off the list with minimal involvement.

DO NOT GO FURTHER than a few posts – especially with pictures. The last thing I want is to see an old picture of me at the beach resurfacing because it was ‘liked’ by some guy I don’t know.  Now, I know that once I put something up on the internet it is fair game and people will look, but if I don’t know you and I find out you’ve been trolling through my old photos, I’m going to assume you’re some kind of stalker – or worse: shallow.

Another thing to consider before you waste time with old pictures on someone’s page: that picture she has been notified of that you just liked, that has just been brought front and center on her newsfeed, may have been taken by someone that was at one time special to her. Whatever thoughts those pictures bring up, whether they be painful or happy memories, they will not be associated with you, and you will not gain any points for a reminder.

Even if you are looking, be real. Talk. Get to know someone without forcing the “I want to get to know you better”.

Without an end-game.

I love meeting new people, men and women. People are fascinating; they enhance shared experiences and provide unique perspectives. The writer in me learns new ways of looking at things. You never know how a random interaction can affect you later. I will strike up a conversation with anyone around me when I have something to say (when … Ha!). For me, I’ve found that the best moments, the most intense connections with people seem to come out of nowhere.

There are great websites out there for people who want to make certain types of connections. When I feel that is what I want to do, I will join one or two. But right now, I don’t want to meet people who want to meet me if they have a goal in mind, because I don’t. I don’t enjoy conversations that play like job interviews, where I’m made to feel like I am supposed to adhere to specific parameters, and one ‘wrong answer’ could terminate the conversation.

The world is full of many different opportunities – all kinds of possibilities - that we should be open to without limiting any of them by narrow expectations. None of us know all that is out there for us to have, be or achieve. I do not have a list of requirements of people that involves looks, job or financial status, or ‘potential position in my life’. What happens, happens – because whatever it is that is allowed to happen naturally will be right.

Was this just a snarky way of saying, “leave me alone”? If you read this, then you will know I have no problem saying that, if I have to. I do not consider myself an island or closed off from the world, but I am not here for your purpose or validation. I’m saying don’t expect anything of me. Don’t look for me to provide something for you or fill a vacancy. Don’t try to be my friend. Just be, let me be, and let's go from there.

Thank you.

P.S. This does go both ways.