okcupid

The (previously) unwritten rules of Online Dating.

I’m forever in an on-again, off-again relationship with Online Dating.  I’ll go from hopelessly relying on it to absolutely despising its presence in my life.  We’re like Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling in The Notebook: we fight, we do the dirty in an old home he wants to buy, I go away to college/be a nurse during WWII and my mother hides the letters he writes me and in the end I leave James Marsden for my OkCupid account.  Eventually I’ll be put in a home while I read old correspondences from past suitors.

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a friend over coffee so obviously my dating melancholy was brought up.  He gave me an inspiring little pep talk wherein he reminded me that I’m a  great guy and I don’t need those apps to find love.  Real love will show up when the timing is right and it will be amazing.

After I woke up from my romance coma, I marched home with a new found zeal and shut them all down.

sister act 2

I was home alone eating a peanut butter sandwich in my pajamas on a Friday night a few weeks later when it suddenly dawned on me: What the hell does he know?! He’s beautiful, kind, smart, artistic, bearded for the gods and always in relationships with outrageously attractive men.  His advice may have given me the vapors but this realization woke me up like an old peddler’s smelling salts (Yes, I did just take you to Oklahoma!)

So here we are. Online Dating 2: Back in the Habit.

For those of you who read this, you’ll recall I’ve been painfully unlucky with Online Dating (Revisit my worst encounter here.)  This time however, I’m changing the game.  During my first foray, I faced so much nonsense that I have taken it upon myself to lay down some ground rules.  No longer will OkCupid Dating (OCD) be the wretched affair of the past.  No more will I feel digitally molested by the predators on Grindr and Scruff. No more shall I face the tyranny of the Hot or Not rulings of Tinder!

If all of us abide, we’ll survive the Online Dating Battlegrounds with our faith in humanity in tact.

1) Make sure all photographs look like you.

lafou

I once met a guy for an OCD and when he arrived he was at least 6 inches shorter and 50 pounds heavier than his pictures lead me to believe.  Looking back on the photos, I was able to understand where I might have been lead astray. I’m pretty sure the camera was on the floor for each shot and his clothes were awfully baggy.

Everyone is entitled to present themselves in the best way they possible can.  However, honest representation will spare your potential suitors from politely trying to hide their shock and disappointment when LaFou arrives when you thought you were meeting Gaston.

2) Always begin with a greeting.

This goes for all dating applications.  Especially Grindr and Scruff.  I’m not opposed to receiving nudey pics but nothing makes me feel more repulsed or violated as when I see I have a message in my inbox only to find an unexpected picture of a dick.

Even if your penis is made of gold and sculpted by the Zeus himself, I will see all surprise dick pics as if it were a mushy brown banana resting on two overripe avocados.

Always start at least with a “Hello,” then you may follow up with, “Can I interest you in a picture of my penis?”  It’s called consent, people!

3) Do not shame yourself for being on any Online Dating sites.

“I don’t usually do these things,” or “I thought I would give this a try,” or “These are so cheesy” communicates one of two things.  1) You’re really embarrassed of being here and admitting you’re lonely.  Or 2) You think you’re too good for this website.

Let me help you out: Nope.  Both are wrong.  You’re just like the rest of us losers.  Embrace it.

4) Do not try to tease out personal details you might learn over the course of several dates before actually meeting in person.

Online dating accounts are simply devised to make a first impression.  If you find some one attractive and had a few witty or pleasing exchanges, be bold and ask them out for drinks or coffee.

Asking personal and invasive questions through Grindr chat or OkCupid messaging tells me you’re trying to figure out if I’m worthy of spending $2 on a cup of coffee and an hour getting to know me better.  It is not flattering.

Also, so much typing!

5) Take your opportunity to sing your own praises. 

How often do any of us get a platform upon which to stand and proclaim we are the best human beings on the planet and everyone should want to date you?  (Ok, so I do that often.)flawless

Being withholding may cause you to think you’re coming off as modest and demure (which is a persona I regularly use at the bars.)  But more often than not, I interpret it as a lack of confidence and pride.  And honey, I’m a Leo.

6) Do not transition your digital relationship to other social media platforms until given explicit permission.

I always try to find the guys I chat with on OkCupid on Facebook.  Tinder basically does it for you.  BUT you will always come off creepy if you try to friend them before you at least exchange last names.  There is no way to make “Well, you told me your first name and what you do for a living and where you went to school so it was easy to find you using Facebook search filters,” sound sexy.  Trust me.

Addendum: If you publicly link your dating page to any of your other social media accounts, you have thereby invited any one to stalk your life and revoked your rights to complain about consequent stalking.  And fellow stalkers, yes, go ahead, but be careful not to be that stranger liking your crushes every photo on Instagram.

7) Take responsibility for what you say.

blanch eyeI wrote a post a few weeks ago about a white gay man who tried to argue it’s not racist that his Grindr tag reads, “Whites for White only.”  (Read here.)  I also recently talked to some one who made a Nazi joke on our third exchange.  And neither of these boys seem to think what they said was a problem.

Possess a higher level of awareness that some jokes or statements might offend an absolute stranger.  If you catch yourself thinking, “I wonder if this is going too far,” then you probably shouldn’t say it.

8) Exercise fiscal responsibility.

Dating is super expensive.  Dinner at any moderately priced restaurant is probably going to run you $30 a person these days.  (This is assuming you have any amount of alcohol, which I highly recommend for all first dates.)

Those of us who work in the non-profit sector (me) or in the arts (also me) may not be able to budget 10 dinner dates a month (HA! Oh, that I had 10 offers a month… moving on.) A coffee shop will always be an ideal location for your first meet-up; low key, inexpensive, and, if you actually like the person, you’ll be revved up from the caffeine that maybe you’ll want to prolong the date into a meal or jaunty walk through the park.

Addendum:  I will go anywhere you want if you promise to pay for everything.

9) At least acknowledge that some one contacted you.

I’m typically all for returning the greeting in most cases.  I mean, what could it hurt?  And if the interest isn’t there then the conversation will fade organically.

However, if you do not wish to even start the conversation, please politely visit my profile so that I may know you at least saw it and have chosen to ignore me.  (This works in cases when the service allows you to see who has viewed your account.)

fassbender

Currently, I am waiting on a reply from a man who I’ve already convinced myself that I could fall in love with forever and ever.  I messaged him a week ago and he hasn’t so much as viewed my profile, which has caused me to obsess over how I may go about nudging him for a response.  And then I wonder if he selected that option where people can’t see you’ve looked at their profile, thus denying you the ability to see who checked you out.  And if that’s the case then I can read over his as many times as I want, right?

Heaven, help me.

10) Check your account daily.

I understand that an online dating profile may not be any one’s number one priority.  Reasonably speaking, it should probably be some where in the double digits on your daily list of things to do.

However, there is absolutely no reason you can’t open your account and see if any handsome Future Husbands have been trying to get a hold of you.  Lord knows, we all squeeze in a moment to check all the other social mediums.  Add this one to your list ESPECIALLY if you have already been in conversation with some one else.

11) The people you talk to are strangers.  Treat them accordingly.

I’m generally a friendly person and will strike up a conversation with any one who seems willing.  But I’m a reasonable human.  If some one isn’t interested in hearing about my relational woes in line at Starbucks, I can take a hint and move a long.

People can ignore you for any reason.  And you don’t know them or have any idea why.  Don’t assume anything.

12) When some one breaks any or all of these rules, LET. IT. GO.

I know how vulnerable we are exposing ourselves like this publically.  And I know the sting of one too many online rejections.  But it doesn’t do us any good to hold grudges or stamp or feet or verbally assault the men who hurt our feelings over the interweb.

And you will never come off as cool or empowered if you tell them off in the bar for not messaging you back.  Don’t take Julia Roberts advice to Jena Malone in Stepmom.  No one knows what snow blowing is.stepmom

If some one doesn’t see how wonderful you are (which how much can they really glean from a few pictures and paragraphs) then they aren’t worth your time any way.

At the end of the day, my friend’s advice is probably right.  You probably can’t find love browsing a website like you were looking for a copy of Homeward Bound on Amazon.  It will show up at some point.  Maybe even when you’re sipping coffee with an old friend.

But in the meantime, I’m going to at least give myself a shot here and with these new rules, I’m determined to succeed.

Because rules make everything way more fun, right?

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And where is the body…

Spring is in the air… I think.  Ignore the snowstorm this week and the below freezing temperatures.  As we turn our calendars from February to March each year, I immediately shift into a spring frame of mind.  It’s as if everything is actually coming up roses even if they’re buried under snow and road salt.

But Spring is a double-edged sword.  With it comes the realization that Summer is nearby meaning tank tops and bathing suits and beach parties and the occasional skinny-dipping.  Thus initiating my usual guilt cycle as I notice the ways in which “winter weight” has turned my svelte summer self into a more insulated container.

honey boo boo

I’ll start to examine every angle, bouncing around checking to see which parts have become extra jiggly.  I will admonish myself for every wrong turn that led me here and swiftly devise an intense fitness routine that will get me back up to snuff in time for my first excursion to the beach.

Over my gay years, I’ve developed a healthy love-hate relationship with my body.   I first discovered going to the gym right around the time I came out.  But this was only a correlation, coincidental even.  The first time I actually set foot in a gym was after I was cast in a play my sophomore year of college that required I get naked on stage.  There is no greater motivation to get one to start pumping iron.

I stopped eating my daily pizza with a salad smothered in Ranch dressing (extra so I could dip my crust in it,) actually found my school’s fitness center and then by ShowTime, I felt really good about my body.

While this physical obsession was budding, I started accepting myself for the beautiful gay creature I am.  There was a lot of change happening for me.  A few years earlier, I was sitting in my childhood home thinking that it’s too bad I’ll never get to experience these things; kissing dudes and looking fabulousI believed having a hot body was for models and athletes, not for friendly theatre nerds, and coming out was for any one but me.  Sigh, pass the Doritos and turn on The OC.

But eventually I realized being happy and satisfied is something I could be as long as I was honest enough with myself to identify what I really wanted and brave enough to pursue it.

It’s six years since that transformative phase of my life.  Being open and working out have become habit.

Mostly.

I mean, I’m living out loud all day every day.  But I’ve been rather lax this winter when it comes to the body stuff.  It all stems from the break up.  You see, the Ex and I created a life that put everything one would need to be healthy right at our finger tips.  We had a Bowflex in the office plus all the P90X and Insanity videos.  We were even vegetarian thanks to too many Netflix anti-meat documentaries and his penchant for expensive organic foods (plus he had the income to back that up.)  My skin was great, I was BMing like a rockstar and I was fit as a fiddle.

I can have it allBut he was such a dick about it.  He some how turned our healthy lifestyle into an ugly power game (not atypical.)  So once I got out of that relationship, I went meat and cheese crazy, gobbling everything that once bled as fast as my grubby little paws could get a hold of it.

Eventually, I calmed down and stopped using gluttony to demonstrate my freedom.  But the damage was done.

I noticed subtle changes to my body.  I’m rounder around the haunches.  Bending in some ways produces ugly rolls where they had not before and suddenly I’m counting chins like you count rings on a tree. I’ve ripped the butt out of three pairs of jeans now.

If you know me, you might be thinking “Aw, Tim you look great.” Or more likely “Girl, enough. You look fine.  Stop mugging for attention.”  I know I’m not overweight by any stretch of the imagination. I know that.  But there are definitive changes that I have noticed, that you might not see unless you’re looking at me naked on a regular basis (which is only me right now), that remind me that I’m not at my best.

So here comes the question: Does it matter?

Short answer: hell yeah!

Long answer: Because I hold myself to a high standard, because I can check myself at any given moment of my life and compare it to how successful I’ve been in previous ones whether we’re talking professional accomplishments, friendships, love, money, body, etc, because I’m always striving to be better than I was yesterday, I reserve the right to acknowledge when I’m less than what I know is my best and feel some type of way about that.

Self-satisfaction ebbs and flows.   So the fact that my body isn’t at it’s peak right now isn’t doing any real psychological damage.  It only makes me work harder (ok and maybe fills me with a touch of anxiety.) But what I am making time for is understanding why the way my body looks is something I value this much.

I know I’ve thought one or twice before that if I want some one with a rocking body, then I have to look like that.  As if we’re making an equitable trade off with our physiques.  This weekend, I was hanging out with my dear friends, David and Brian.  We were talking boys and perusing one of those Instagram accounts that show hot guys in their underwear when David says, “I just want a man who when I take off their clothes I think, ‘Why are you with me?’”  Truer words ne’er spoken.

(Although after I emphatically agreed, David also followed up with the more empowered, “Eh, I’m just going to keep working on me so I’m the one they’re lucky to be with.”  He’s so fierce.)

You'll take off your shirt if I buy a shot? I'll take them ALL!

You’ll take off your shirt if I buy a shot? I’ll take them ALL!

But it’s not always tit for tat.  What attracts some men to others is an absolute mystery [to me.]  I mean sure, we all probably find ripped guys to be very sexy, blah blah blah.  We get it.  That’s why we put them in speedos and buy cheap shots with hardly any alcohol from them.

This summer, right after the Ex and I broke up, we were at one of the famous Gay Boat Parties.  It was the night before I moved out.  I reluctantly went because of the monstrous day ahead of me but there I was.  We were all about ready to head home when I caught the Ex hopping into a cab.  I rushed over and kindly reminded him he better be back to help me move in the morning and then I noticed the guy waiting for him in the backseat.

He was way too attractive.  Like super hunky, coifed, bearded, plastic, looked rich.  Way out of both  our leagues.  And yet, there the Ex was heading off for a late night canoodling session.

It was in that moment I realized nothing about attraction makes sense.  People want what they want.  Even if you’re obviously the cuter one, sometimes hot guys have weird taste.

I could never resist.

I could never resist.

I have weird taste.  I’ve gone on record saying my dream man would look something like Chubby Andy Dwyer from Parks and Rec or Jason Segel.  I mean, sure I wouldn’t kick Jake Gyllenhaal out of bed, but the heart wants what it wants.

So understanding that attraction is ultimately senseless takes a lot of the pressure off of me to think I have to look a certain way to attract the types of men I want.

I know that I can’t control how attractive some one finds me.  I can message them until my fingers bleed insisting we’d look great together and even OkCupid thinks we’re a great match, what with our 92% score.  But if they don’t want me then I gotta move it along.  I can’t control what some one else wants.

So my body hang-ups are not about how attractive my possible suitors may find me.  It’s really about how I see myself.  When I feel I’m at my best, when my hair looks the way I want it, I’m wearing an outfit I love, when I don’t feel bloated because I ate too much food, I trimmed all the unwanted hairs, my eye boogers are handled and there is nothing in my teeth, I feel free.  Because even if I seem ever present, if I don’t feel good about some part of my appearance, there’s always a portion of my attention that’s focused on it and it’s really distracting.

I don’t think it’s superficial.  I think it’s very human.

I’m never going to look like this.

hugh_jackman_lifting_weights_full

I understand that that body type comes with rigorous diet and exercise and boo, I love nachos and beer.  I also don’t really want to look like that.  I define my personal best based on my own standards.  We all should.  We all have that power.  Sure, we’re inundated with images from the media that tell us what is desirable and what’s not. And sure, they probably have subconsciously affected our own self-perception.

But my body is not built like those guys.  I’m cool with that.  Feeling satisfied with the way I look doesn’t mean I’m vain or shallow.  My version of satisfaction is a product of my own values and sense of self.  Just because I like to look a certain way, also does not mean I think everyone ought to look like that either.  We’re free to define for ourselves what our best is.  Future Husbands of the world, be damned!

I feel underwhelmed with myself body right now and I’m working on it.  That’s ok.  But it’s important to love ourselves all the time even when we’re not at out best.  Isn’t that what we’re looking for in a partner?

If I work out a bit harder for the next few weeks and abstain from too much booze or cheese, it’s because I’m trying to make me better for me.  To any one who says, “But you look good!”  I say, Thank you, really, that means a lot.  I do have to head to the gym now, but sure, I’ll eat one more scone with you before I leave.

And to my friends out there who are looking in the mirror right now feeling like I’m feeling, we’re fine.  Maybe we’ll go to the gym a bit more and maybe we’ll pretend we’ve stopped eating bread.  But we’re fine.  It’s ok to feel less than your best.  It means you actually possess advanced self-awareness.  But whatever you do, make sure you are improving yourself for your sake alone.

There is no greater love story than the one we share with ourselves.

Grill for me, Future Husband

Grill for me, Future Husband

14 Ways to Be Your Own Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day lovers of all sorts!

Can I be honest with you all? I love Valentine’s Day.

Before you give your screen a side eye and close the tab on your browser, hear me out.  I totally get that Valentine’s Day is stupid.  It is.  Greedy executives who are interested in making a quick buck by propagating heteronormative mores created it.  I went to a liberal arts college.  I get it.

But that doesn’t stop me from swooning every February 14th.  There is something magic in the air.  Valentine’s Day generates a kind of energy that puts people in a better mood.  It’s probably because every one is excited about shamelessly eating chocolate. In my case, I’m secretly hoping a secret admirer will step forth and confess his undying devotion (hint hint.)

This is my first Single Valentine’s Day in a long time.  I don’t have any dates set up and I’m not really the type to ask some one to be my Valentine or anything as lame as that.  This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Valentine’s Day.  After all, how much can we really hate on a day that asks us to tell the people in our lives we love them?

But for some, today bares the ugly moniker of  “Single’s Awareness Day” or other debasing epithets.  And that bugs me.  Because being single isn’t something to feel bad about.  It’s taken me some time to realize that and you’ve all sort of been witness to part of that process.

So today I say, Single is great! Valentine’s Day is for all who love!

To those of you who, like me, don’t have any plans, I’ve come up with a wonderful list of ways to spend this day celebrating your one true love: Yourself.

Please enjoy my recommendations while listening to my collection of the Greatest Love Songs of all time:  (The Beatles aren’t on Spotify, so you may notice a significant emptiness.)

The Cupid Shuffle

Take all of the digits of your birth date and add them up to find your Love Number.

For example: If your birth date is 2/14/1987, then you do the following:  2+1+4+1+9+8+7=32

Then go to your OkCupid profile (any Dating site would work.)  Set your Matches to “Special Blend” and search.  This will provide a random assortment of people not based on your alleged match percent, location, or how recently they joined.

Count from the first profile of the results all the way to the one that lands on your Love Number.  Without hesitation or qualification send that person, whoever he or she may be, the following message:

“Happy Valentine’s Day!

romeo and julie

Let’s make the most of it.  Meet me at (INSERT YOUR FAVORITE SPOT) tonight at 8pm.  I’ll be the one wearing (INSERT YOUR BEST OUTFIT)

Here’s to the magic.”

Then brace yourself for an exciting new encounter.

What you will need:

  • An OkCupid account or other dating app/profile
  • An adventurous spirit
  • Back up plans if/when he doesn’t show up

The Show Stopper

Everyone loves a musical.  Everyone.  I don’t care who you are; you love them and know all the words to at least one.  Tonight is the night to let your inner Sutton Foster shine, girl!

There are two ways to do this:

1)   Pick your favorite movie musical (Netflix has some amazing choices right now.  West Side Story?! If you need more, please contact me.)  Lock the doors to your home, put on your best cut off T-shirt, Jazz pants, and Capezios.  Hit play and perform the shit out of every musical number.

2) Invite over your most talented friends and cast them in your favorite movie musical.  You’re the casting director, remember?  So no one gets to call dibs.  You are always Maria or Effie or Mimi.  Perform a concert version of that musical and maybe a second one to make sure everyone gets a featured part.

effie white

What you will need:

  • Beers or Wine (in bottles) as these are the best vessels for alcohol/microphones
  • Ample floor space
  • A solid warm up
  • Preferably a dance studio style room with a mirror on one wall and Ballet Barres.

*Costumes optional.  Nay, mandatory.

The Lady with a Past

In the grand tradition of every role Jessica Lange has ever played, put on your sexiest outfit and head to a dark, romantic spot.  Take a seat at the bar where you are sure to grab the attention of everyone in the room.

Jessica Lange

Flirt casually with the bartender (so every one looking on see’s how charismatic you are.)  Order only whiskey or scotch on the rocks, the world’s sexiest drink.  Sit and sip alone as if you’ve just gotten out of a terrible situation.  Appear vulnerable yet resilient.   Look off into the distance with an expression that tells everyone the weight of the past is heavy on your heart.

Drink the whole night and laugh with the bartender until some gentle yet commanding man comes and rescues you.  And don’t worry if you sit alone all night.  That just means you’re broadcasting an air of mystique so powerful, it’s intimidated everyone.

What you will need:

  • Your sexiest black dress (or whatever appropriately gendered equivalent you have)
  • Whiskey.  Lots of Whiskey.
  • Optional: Cigarettes to help the mystique but only if you have a cool cigarette case to store them and you find a bar that allows smoking.  Better though if it doesn’t.  You’ll seem infinitely more dangerous.

The Text Mess

A personal favorite.  Start by drinking a whole bottle of wine.  Then send the following text message to all of your Exes:

“That was a lot of fun.” 

Immediately reply with the following:

“Oh my! I’m so sorry this was meant for a different (INSERT THEIR NAME).  This is awkward.  Hope you’re well.”

Oops

I’m not suggesting you do this with the intention of rekindling any type of romance.  It’s just a way to stir the pot.  In my experience (because I have done this many many times) you may get to hash out some painful feelings, exchange some kind words with each other that might surprise you, or (in one particular case) offer one of the greatest loves of your life some relationship advice while also confessing that you will, in fact, always love him.

Somehow this will feel great.  It literally can not go wrong.

What you will need:

  • Wine.
  • Extra Wine.
  • Not a shred of dignity.

The Undercover The Bachelor

So I just love The Bachelor. Not because I think it’s compelling television or how I think love should work, but because it’s about a bunch of crazy people committing to strong feelings.  I’m here for that.   And I’m also certain that if I were to compete I would win the $250,000 grand prize. (Wait, that’s not what they get if they win? Nevermind.)

Any way, send a text to all of the people you’ve been sort of dating or flirting with over the past few months.  Tell them you’re meeting a few friends out at the bar and you’d love it if they would join.  When all of them show up at the same time, act as though this is a Bachelor group date.  Pull them a side one at a time and “get to know them better.”  If possible, create a group challenge or two. the bacherlor

At the end of the evening, tell the guys you’re going to another bar.  Bring them to a previously selected alley where you have already hidden a dozen roses.  Then reveal that they’ve been part of your Bachelor challenge and present a rose to the guys you’ve liked the most.

 What you will need:

  • A Camera Crew
  • No sense of decency
  • As many roses as you have guys you want to bang

The Cake War

This may be the best one.

First, decide what your favorite type of cake is.  Set aside plenty of time.  This is a decision not to be made lightly.  You may think, “Oh, I like chocolate cake, I guess” but what about cheesecake? Or Carrot Cake? Or Angel food?! There are too many options.  Don’t jump into this without considering all of them.

bruce cake

Once you take the appropriate amount of time to decide, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to visit every known bakery in your neighborhood and try a piece of their version of your favorite cake.  Once you finish, post your results on all social media.   You’re supporting local business or whatever!  Mostly, cake. Lots of cake.

What you will need:

  • A journal to record your deep spiritual thoughts about the cake experience
  • Loose pants.  You know what, just wear your pajama bottoms!
  • Any extra Weight Watchers Points you can save.  (Yes I did say Weigh Watchers, because if it’s good enough for J. Hud it’s good enough for me.)

The Yoko Oh-No You Better Don’t

Find a band that’s playing locally.  If possible, look them up online to find out if any of the performers are dreamy.  Or at least cute enough that with enough booze you’d make out with them without feeling bad about it tomorrow.

sexuality

Work your way back stage using your secret weapon… your sexuality.  Pay close attention to the group dynamics of the band.  Identify the leader and then flirt with whoever comes across as the weakest band mate.

Subtly convince the weakling that he is the true talent of the group and encourage him to confront his band mates in front of you.

If all goes well, the band should be broken up by morning.

What you will need:

  • Sexuality
  • Powers of Manipulation
  • Filthy Band T-Shirts

The Cultural Elite

For the fancy ladies,

Get your self some culture! Put on your finest tweed blazer complete with elbow pads and begin the night with a visit to your nearest art gallery.  Stare long and hard at paintings that make you think of sex and war.  As Future Husband comes up to look at the same painting, try this move:

Cross your arms and bring your left hand to your chin as if you’re stroking your beard (actual beard not required.)  Look the piece up and down with a furrowed brow.  Let your gaze land at a specific spot, stare at it for a moment, let out a “hmmm,” reach your left hand towards the work of art and before you touch it, stop, and then return it to your chin.  Turn and walk away.  As you leave, look back with a knowing smile and make sure he’s checking out your rear.

Grab a glass of wine and then let him come to you.

janet snakehole

If he doesn’t come to you, get yourself to a damn theater and experience more art! It’s good for you!

What you will need:

  • Maybe smart looking glasses
  • A sincere interest in art
  • Something to say 

The Gwyneth Paltrow in that movie about karaoke.  Duets, I think

Drag your best friends to a Karaoke Bar, even if they hate it.  With your BFF in tow, strike up a conversation with another group of people, making sure one of them could possibly be your Future Husband.

karaokeOnce you start talking with the new guys, demonstrate how fun and witty you are but make sure you seem a little demure.  Eventually, you are going to be called up to sing.  Create a rouse like your BFF signed you up without telling you and act so embarrassed.  In reality, you’ve had this song prepared for months.

Once you wow everyone and the ovation dies down, drop the mic and run right into Future Husbands arms

What you will need:

  • A Legendary song (Celine Dion or Salt-N-Pepa come to mind)
  • Three months of practice with a vocal coach
  • A BFF ready to go along with this whole charade

The Survivor

All the Single Ladies! All the Single Ladies!

Gather your best friends over to your place for a night of  trash talking the exes and celebrating being the Independent women you are.  It’s your Destiny, Child.  Build a quick trashcan fire to burn old pictures/items from your Ex and proclaim loudly, “I’m a Survivor, I’m not going to give up!”

Then head to the club with just your friends.  No Tops allowed! survivor

**For added authenticity: Invite your three best friends.  Just before you leave, kick two of them out of the party and meet a new, better third person at the bar.

What you will need:

  • The flawless sexuality of Beyoncé
  • The Horrible style of Tina Knowles (aka just buy, like, camo T-Shirts and cut them up)
  • A Fire extinguisher or some one ready to dial 911

The Mom-mom

Affectionately named for my grandmother.

michael

Movie tickets are expensive.  So plan accordingly.  Make a list of every movie you’d like to see.  Then based on all of the show times and running times, create a schedule for the day.  Buy a ticket for only the first one on your list and then sneak from theater to theater until, like Pokemon, you’ve caught them all.  The apathetic security guards at the movie theater are likely 1) not to notice and 2) not to care.

What you will need:

  • A large trench coat to hide all of your refreshments.
  • The organizational skills of a Type-A Gay (Eyes on you, Brian and David)
  • 3D glasses should any movie on your list require them.

The Barechest Contessa

Create a dinner party as elegant as Ina Garten.  Spend hours watching her show and choose the recipes you like best.  Once selected, invite your most fabulous gay friends over for a meal they’ll not soon forget.  Spare no expense.

barefoot contessaIf you aren’t a good cook, incept a friend who is a master chef into thinking it was his the whole time! He’ll be super excited to host a glamorous dinner party and you’ll get to gorge yourself! Every one wins.

For added fun: Invite that hot friend of yours.  You know, the one who is sort of part of your group and is very attractive and flirts with you once in while but it never really goes anywhere.  Tell him it’s an underwear party.  This is in no way related to food or the meal but if you ask me, sexy men are the only thing missing from The Barefoot Contessa.

What you will need:

  • A shopping spree at Williams Sonoma
  • Elegant table settings
  • A breath taking home in the Hamptons and an aloof husband who is always out of town

The Puppy Party

puppy kisses

Head to your nearest animal shelter, pet store, or neighbor’s house whose dog just gave birth.  Lie on the ground and allow yourself to be showered in unconditional love and slobber from no fewer than 5 puppies.  Their soft fur and energy is sure to pull even the most hardened of hearts out of a grump slump.

Note: Kittens, while adorable, will not work.  I have two cats and I love them (yes, I know, I’m single and own two cats.  Spare me the Cat Lady jokes.)  The only thing you will get from them is a cold sense of ambivalence and maybe a nuzzle when they want food or their litter box cleaned.  I get enough of that from my gentleman callers on a daily basis. 

What you will need:

  • Puppies
  • No animal allergies or tons of Claritin
  • A lint roller

The “Best Gift is the Gift You Give Yourself” Gift

Whatever it is you decide to do today, make sure you take a moment to love on yourself.  Being single can be hard especially on a day when the world wants to celebrate everyone who happens to be committed to some one else.

People in relationships are no better or happier than those of who are not.  Valentine’s Day may be a silly Fauxliday intended for people who lead a certain life style, but this year, let’s allow it to be a celebration of all kinds of love.

Remind yourself of how wonderful you are and don’t be defined by your relationship status.    Relationships come and go, but you’re stuck with you forever.  Make the time to love yourself.

Today, you are all my Valentine.

With love,

Tim

blow kiss

Cupid, draw back your bow. No, seriously.

Perhaps the most complicated relationship I’ve been in is with my OkCupid account.

It all began in February of 2010.  I moved to Philadelphia the November before that and very shortly after I met and fell madly in love with a man who lived in Michigan.  Suffice it to say it did not last.

During our brief courtship, Michigan Man off handedly mentioned that he had an OkCupid Account.  I, having remembered this detail, created mine solely with the purpose of remotely monitoring his love life in Michigan.  (Oh, yes, by the way, I’m a crazy person.)

After finally accepting the fact that Michigan Man’s trysts were beyond my reach, I started using OkCupid for its intended purpose.   I went on one date that ended with the guy saying, “Well, you were a lot nicer than I expected.  Let’s do this again.” And then I met the Ex.

Truth be told, the Ex and I never closed our accounts.  I did change my status to “Seeing Someone” and honestly, I never initiated a conversation with anyone while we were together.  But I guess deep down I knew I would need it again.  Ok, so it wasn’t buried that deeply.

The first Monday after the Ex and I called it quits, he went on a date with the man who ultimately was the catalyst for the break up (that’s another damn story for another damn time.)   He was beginning a new relationship while I was home rekindling an old flame.

link wink

The world of online dating is a strange one.  In theory it’s great: an open play ground for single people trying to find Mr. or Ms. or Mx or (ideally) Dr. Right.  More often than not, however, they’re mostly just a breeding ground for uncomfortable encounters and weird sex stories.

I kept things casual that first month.  Not only was I moving to a new place, a show I was performing in was opening.   I didn’t exactly have time for innocuous messaging.  Eventually, the show wrapped up and my boxes were unpacked.  I was ready for love.

We all know how these things go.  You browse around, see a profile you like, visit it one or nine times until you finally summon the courage to send a message, and then if you’re lucky, three days later you get a response.

One fateful night, the most miraculous thing happened.  I messaged a guy who not only was “online” BUT he responded right away.  He even asked me a question he sincerely wanted me to answer.  This cycle went on all night.  We had a full-blown conversation!

Our correspondence wasn’t limited to that one night, either, like so many of these fleeting cyber romances.  Over the next two days, things started getting digitally real.  We were learning about each other’s families, sharing deep dark secrets of our pasts, we even created an inside joke!  AN INSIDE JOKE! Something about opening a Pumpkin Beer Brewery and running ourselves out of business drinking the whole supply… swoon much?

This was getting serious, folks.  He convinced me to meditate! Like I was some rich lady or a bike messenger!  I fell asleep doing it but still this was big.  The Ex had tried many times over to get me to meditate with him only sort of succeeding twice in three years.  Even the silly X-Box mediation game he bought couldn’t fool me.

Kristen-Wiig-Aunt-Linda-Oh-brother

“Oh, brother indeed”

It was time to meet.  I don’t remember who initiated the plan but we set a date, time, and location.  At that point in the online dating process, I typically close communication until the real meet-up.  You know, so as not to exhaust all of the usual first date prattle.  And, still, he continued to message me! Some one was certainly gunning to be Future Husband.

The big day arrived.  It must be said, I don’t get nervous before a date.  I don’t.  Small talk is my jam.  But, this guy, he had me on edge.  And I’m not talking like a little extra nervous sweat.  In the frenzy that was my pre-date preparations, I actually locked myself out of the bathroom and had to remove the door from the hinges using only a butter knife.  (Did you know you can do that?)  I was a mess.

calm down woman

The text I sent myself

It was 45 minutes before the date and a message came through the Cupid App, POTENTIAL_FH says “Hey, I had a long day and need a drink STAT.” (he was a med student, bonus points!) “I’m heading over now.  I’ll see you when you get here. :)” Well, I put on my favorite blue plaid shirt, did my hair, and peddled my cute little buns over to the bar as fast as I could!

The bar was crowded as it was a Friday night during Happy Hour in Center City.  I did a lap and couldn’t find him.  This didn’t raise any alarms immediately because his pictures were sort of vague.  In one picture he was wearing sunglasses and the other had a grainy Instragram Filter.  He could have been any blurry sunglass wearing 20 something in the bar that night (which if you’ve been to Moriarty’s is half of the crowd.)  No matter.  I sent him a message telling him I was here.  He didn’t give me his number when I gave him mine so my communiqués had to come through the app.  Wait, is that weird?  No.  It’s fine.  I’ll just grab two seats at the bar.

Two pumpkin beers, please.  How lovely.  He’ll find me, sitting here; prepared with the drink that was so important to us.  (If you know me at all, you know I almost never offer to buy the first drink.  I was in it to win it.)  I started sipping my beer while waiting for a reply or for Future Husband himself to tap me on the shoulder and say something cliche like “Waiting for some one?” or “What’s a beautiful lady like you doing drinking alone?” Ugh, he’s so lame, I thought, blushing.

My beer was getting emptier until eventually I finished it.  No reply.  Ok, I’m a bit nervous so I guess I’ll start drinking his beer now.  Calm the nerves.  He won’t know I bought it for him any way.  A half hour passed and I was nearly two beers deep.  I checked my phone because, you know, sometimes it doesn’t send you an alert.  Nothing.

I suddenly started to notice the frustrated patrons around me.  I had been holding this seat for thirty minutes now while at least 5 people were standing behind me eyeing it up like we were a group of people stranded on a dessert island and I was holding the last Luna Bar. Didn’t they get I was saving this seat for my Future Husband?  Back up! BACK UP! And wipe that look off of your face! He’s coming, dammit! Won’t you look stupid when he gets here and you see what a great time we’ll be having!

But still…

I sent a text to my friend David.

“How long do you wait for a date to show up?”

“15 minutes.”

“I think I’m being stood up.”

“Girl, get out of there.  I’m going to a party.  You can come with me.”

I order one more beer because it’s happy hour for ten more minutes and beers are half priced… and I can wait ten more minutes, I guess.

I finished the third beer, paid my tab, offered my seat to the guy wearing a Phillies Hat and his lady friend with the high pony tail and headed directly to David’s.  This was my first time being stood up.  I sort of thought it was something TV writers made up so they could play the sad music before the commercial break.  Good thing there wasn’t a composer scoring my life right now…

Oh what’s that?  A homeless man playing “Memory” on a broken violin? Yes, that is PRECISELY what was awaiting me outside of David’s apartment.  (He lived on South Street so this probably wasn’t an uncommon occurrence.) You’re a sassy bitch, you know that, Universe?

David’s the perfect friend to have when a man wrongs you.  He gives you his version of the “You is smart” speech from The Help, plenty of alcohol, and when possible will walk up to that scumbag and read him to filth.  He is the perfect medicine for a broken heart.

help gif

After my treatment, we hopped in a cab and went to this party for his friend’s birthday.  Unfortunately, no one told me it was “Pink” themed for a group of gays my friends and I affectionately refer to as “The Plastics.”  (Can we gays go a day without a Mean Girls reference?)  So there I was, the only man in a sea of pink-clad, perfectly quaffed, ripped gays wearing blue and feeling blue.  (Also, I was the only one eating the enchiladas.  Did the caterer really think these boys would be caught dead eating?)

The next morning, it dawned on me!  Maybe something terrible happened! I didn’t want something bad to happen to him.  But if the last thing he said was “I’m on the way” then doesn’t it stand to reason that just maybe he was hit by a cab or something?  Was this my An Affair to Remember?  Now, that was of course this last thing I would wish for him or anyone.  But I have to admit, a cab accident would have really pulled me out of a funk.

an affair to remember

So I messaged him.  I told him if he didn’t want to see it me it would was OK, I can take it, but I’m genuinely worried now that maybe he was lying in a hospital room somewhere.  I asked that he please write back with an explanation post haste so I could at least put my worried mind at ease.  No reply that day.

It was Sunday night and I was tending to my usual post-Saturday hangover, which in light of recent events was particularly heinous.  My phone started buzzing.  “POTENTIAL_FH has sent you a message.  You better take this.  And, hey, whatever happens, you’re great,” alerted my OkCupid app.

I’ll give you the abridged version of his reply: “Hey, so listen.  I’m not dead or in a coma. The truth is these pictures are not mine.  The profile is fake.  I am recently single and just wanted to see what was out there.  I didn’t expect to find some one I would be so interested in so quickly.  I was at the bar but I was too afraid to come clean so I left.  I hope you understand.”

Wait, what?

what-the-what

I think my reaction was a mixture of utter shock, blind rage, and the gluttonous hunger.  Do you mean to tell me that you’ve been lying to me?  That you were at the bar?  That you may have been even sitting next to me?  You watched me order beers for the two of us, hold a seat for you, drink alone and said nothing!?!

Now usually when presented any type of fuckery, I am inclined to flick my wrist with a “Girl, bye” and go about my business with nary a hair out of place. But this was fuckery on a new level.  This was some Lifetime Original Movie starring Gina Gershon shit.  Some one better get my erasers and chalk because I’m about to school this child.

grumpy amy

I won’t make you read my whole long response but I will give you the most important part:

“You might see this [OkCupid] as a safe fun place to anonymously browse hot guys.  But there are real people here hoping that we’ll find the person we’re looking to potentially share the rest of our lives with.   You’re not responsible for the way I react to your bullshit, but you are responsible for treating ALL people with respect.  You’re not ready for this, little boy, and you don’t deserve to be here.”

He closed his account that evening and good riddance.  I sometimes wonder if I was too harsh.  After all, he was 22 and lord knows 22 year olds don’t have a good goddamn clue.  I don’t care what you say, Taylor Swift.  But some one needed to set the record straight for all of us out there.

tswift shock

There is no room for some one like that in the world of online dating.  While most people probably aren’t so irresponsible, I think we take for granted how difficult online dating is.  Simply by signing up for a profile we are all broadcasting to the world, “I’m utterly single and lonely and desperately want to find love.”  And yet most of us, myself included, seem to forget that behind the carefully selected album of pictures and diligently crafted personal essays beats a real heart riddled with insecurities and vulnerabilities just like ourselves.

We’ve all been there.  You send some one a thoughtful message; you see they visited your profile, implying they have read your greeting, and then nothing.  Something, a face you made, an answer to a question, a movie you like, your interests, your size, shape, race, penchant for cats convinced them you aren’t worth the courtesy  of a “hello.” We’ve all done that too.

I know I’m guilty of some online dating transgressions.  I’m not perfect.  And I’m not necessarily suggesting we develop LTRs with every guy who notices you.  I don’t have the time or money for that type of consideration.  But it’s important that we remind ourselves once in a while that we’re dealing with people who feel and hurt and are more than a few pictures and words.

That little boy was probably exceptionally offensive.  But I think this story is indicative of our growing lack of empathy that stems from these sterile online interactions.   When you can’t see some one’s face, it’s way easier to act like a total dick and think nothing of it.  If some one came up to one of us at a bar and said “Hello,” would we look them up and down and turn away as if nothing happened?

I hope not.  I hope our communication doesn’t regress to that.

But if you did, you’d be a real douche-toot.

Epilogue:

A few weeks later, my dear friend Brian updated his Grindr picture, which just so happened to have my face in the background.  We’re not posed together in the picture.  I’m just part of the mis-en-scene, like an extra bush or cloud.  Brian’s profile states he is in a relationship so every now and again some one would figure I was the boyfriend and suggest the three of us get together (obviously we’d make an adorable couple.)  One evening, Brian sent me a screen shot of a conversation he was having where the person said “Tell Tim I said hey.”  The guy also included a picture.  I wasn’t familiar with his face and asked Brian to find out how he knew me.  The guy replied “Tell him I’m sorry I missed him that night for our pumpkin beers.”

Girl, bye.

bernadette gif