Although I’m in a relationship and not actively looking to meet new people, I still have my profile up on OK Cupid, which was sadly acquired by Match.com a while back. It hasn’t been seriously updated in years, and I never reply to anyone or initiate contact with anyone, because I would not really like The Guy I Am Currently Dating spending his time doing that. However, every now and then, I log into my OK Cupid profile to see what people have sent me, because it is an endless source of amusement. If someone seems intelligent or has put thought into what they’ve written me, I’ll click on their profile. One person who wrote to me and introduced himself in a way that included his Meyers-Briggs type, convinced me I should click on his profile. The guy would never be my type, even were I single, but I loved his profile. Under “You should message me if….”, he wrote:

“You know what polyamory means.
You know where Venezuela is.
You want to start a polka-metal band with me”

I’m hoping he’s willing to settle for someone who fits into any one of those three categories, because the likelihood of finding someone who fits into all of them is probably up there with being struck by lightning.

In all seriousness, I’ve had some people I know recently go off on “Why do people keep up their profiles on OK Cupid if they’re not really single?” rants. It isn’t as if it’s just one person complaining about it; I’ve heard it from maybe three or four different people in the span of a few weeks.

Since I’m that person everyone is bitching about, even if they don’t know it, I feel compelled to answer.

I actually like OK Cupid. It is the ONLY dating website from back in my single days where I met people who weren’t complete douchebags (I met “The Worst Guy In Atlanta” via E-Harmony), married or living with someone (I met someone whose girlfriend answered the phone and yelled at me, after 3 months of communication with a guy I really quite liked, via Match.com), someone who was just looking for no-strings attached sex (a short-lived stint on FriendFinder), or a serial cheater (I started getting e-mails from an angry wife of someone I’d started communicating with via LiveJournal, of all places.). I never found love or romance on OK Cupid, but I’m intrigued by psychology, and their fairly extensive online personality testing/comparison drew me in. I made two really close friends via OK Cupid, both of whom lived nowhere near me, but I took a chance on meeting in person, and didn’t find a romantic connection, but found something perhaps more meaningful. Through those people, I met friends-of-friends through OK Cupid, and found out that one’s circle could be so small that when my ex-boyfriend was cheating on me and made the mistake of hitting on my friend’s roommate, I found out about it in no time. So, I’m not in any hurry to delete or deactivate my profile. There’s a lot of nostalgia there, good and bad.

Second of all, my profile kind of rocks. There’s a reason I still get e-mails there, and while my friends are telling me “I only meet people who send me e-mails they obviously send to everyone, say “Hey”, or commit some sexual harassment violation”, I get e-mails from people who make an effort to talk to me about books, psychology, philosophy, politics, music, and other things I’ve indicated as being of interest to me. I’ve gotten some e-mails that are extremely flattering and sincere, and make me think “That’s the kind of guy I’d want to fix my friend up with”. My profile may also be the longest profile on OK Cupid. That’s not an accident. While I am indeed a loquacious human being, I am aware I made my profile longer and more revealing than necessary. Why? Because it takes a lot to really get to know me, much less date me. If your attention span/interest in me doesn’t even warrant reading a full page of text, you’re definitely not right for me.

Numerous friends who use online dating sites have asked me why my profile seems to work for me, and attracts mostly the “right” kind of attention…and if I’d help them improve theirs. I think having a good profile is key. I have two friends who met via OK Cupid, and they are happily married, and comprise a third of our trivia team. One of them, like me, crafted a lengthy and slightly arrogant profile to attract the kind of girl he was seeking. It worked. In the future, I plan to post another blog called “Why Your Dating Profile Sucks, And How To Fix It“.

Finally, I do not delete my profile because OK Cupid was never founded strictly as a dating site. Yes, yes, Match.com bought it out and screwed everything up, and now those of us who aren’t looking to date feel pressured to not be there—although, ironically, it’s become a gathering place for members of the poly community looking to meet new partners, which I might have appreciated five years ago. The reason there are all the options for your relationship status is because they wanted it to be something akin to Facebook for strangers, where you could meet like-minded individuals based on personality testing.

It isn’t that site anymore, and eventually, I’m sure I’ll delete my account. But I still find some sort of amusement via some of the e-mails I receive, and some of them are genuinely touching and restore my faith in the idea that I still have more soulmates floating around the Universe, some of whom I may encounter someday.

I don’t understand, however, the ire of single friends who believe those who are not single shouldn’t be on the site. After all, there’s no “cap” on the number of people who can be on the site, so it’s not as if my never-updated profile is drawing attention away from someone who actively wants to meet others. And just because I’m not going to be interested in dating you—well, how is that different from seeing the profile of an available person who isn’t interested in dating you?

I specify that I no longer do online dating, I’m in a relationship, and not looking to meet people…and if I do, it’s a strictly friendship-thing. Frankly, I have a hard enough time keeping up with the friends who occupy space in my life and my heart, and I don’t have too much room for meeting new people. But, perhaps one day, I’ll be at a different phase in my life and new friendships will be more important to me, or I’ll remember how some of the closest relationships in my life came about online and turned my life upside-down, and feel compelled to explore that again. In the meantime, though, I’m intending to leave my non-dating oriented profile up, and I don’t see why anyone should take issue with that.

Let’s face it, it’s not as if the world will be heartbroken that I’m unavailable…especially when the site will show you a string of pictures of women similar to me, and say, “You may want to meet these people instead”.

Oh, OK Cupid. You’re so fickle and do nothing for a girl’s ego. That must be why I stay with you, even when others tell me to go.

(P.S. It’s amazing the number of people I know from my “real life” that OK Cupid suggests I meet. I want to write back and tell them, “I met all these people who are totally not my type on my own, but thanks!” It reminds me of an incident a few years ago where my then-roommate was recently divorced, and signed up for E-Harmony. One of her “matches” was the fiance of one of our close friends, and the two are nothing alike. *laughs*)

Today, I commented on a conversation with a group of friends and acquaintances in D.C. about the bar scene, and specifically, how to approach someone at a bar, and which “pick-up lines” are worth using.

Personally, I’ll talk to a stranger at a bar if I’m alone and bored, but only when it’s obvious someone isn’t hitting on me. I’ll accept a drink from a stranger at a bar if it’s given as a genuine compliment, and it’s not apparent there are some ulterior motives attached. The first time I hear a pick-up line or anything resembling such, I’m probably not going to continue the conversation.

Here’s what I had to say about dating, and meeting people at bars:

“I haven’t dated anyone who wasn’t a good friend first for the past 8 years, maybe longer. Why? I want someone who is genuinely interested in knowing me, who isn’t afraid to get “deep” or talk about what really matters in life, and is willing to put the most authentic version of who they are out there. I’m disinterested in small talk, which tells me nothing about a person, and I’m even less interested in pick up lines, which often tell me about who a person isn’t or would like to be. If someone’s interested in getting to know me, they’re going to do it the old-fashioned way, through friendship, conversation, and spending time together. If someone wants to get laid without putting too much into it, they’ll offer to buy me a drink and ask what I do. My answer is “What I don’t do is meet strangers in bars, but thanks.” :)

The people who interest me are those who show me they’re interesting people who respect my intelligence and find me attractive, but aren’t plying me with alcohol and bad jokes to get me to sleep with them. I invest a lot in the people in my life, and trust and affection is earned over time. We might *meet* at a bar, but we’re not going to develop a lasting relationship or start a valuable friendship at the bar. You can buy me all the martinis you want, but if you’re seriously interested in me, you’ll have to call me and ask me out when we’re both sober.

I get annoyed with the clear disinterest in other human beings and selfish ulterior motives I see at bars and clubs, and it isn’t a gender-related thing. Both men and women show a huge capacity for being fairly vapid and shallow and not demanding too much in exchange for attention or affection. Both men and women allow how other people treat them, how much attention they get or how many numbers they get, to validate or invalidate a sense of being interesting and attractive.

I like bars. But they’re the place I go to have conversation with friends and significant others and people I already know and enjoy, not the place I go to seek validation via feedback from strangers. I miss the idea of the old 1920′s style bars, which were gathering spaces for artists and intellectuals.

Plenty of them got drunk, danced, had fun, hooked up, had relationships, and met new acquaintances. But somehow, some of the most creative ideas in the world were born, friendships solidified, the drama of relationships and marriages played out, and people had more interesting things to say than “You’re cute, where are you from?”

If I meet you at a bar, I might talk to you. However, your chances are so much greater if you’re a genuine person without ulterior motives. I seriously doubt I’m the only one.

If you’re single or in an open relationship and want to meet people, actually show interest in knowing people. Not because you’re out for no-strings-attached sex, or because your ego has taken a hit and you need a boost, or because you want a drinking partner who isn’t hard on the eyes, but because you’re the kind of person who is interested in other human beings. More than that, show interest in honestly putting yourself out there via real conversation that isn’t interrupted every time another attractive person walks by. It’s just a matter of respect and honesty–you know, the stuff that friendships and relationships are built on. Why would anyone want to go to the trouble of a drunken hook-up with someone who doesn’t offer any of that?

It’s not going to be an experience you remember. It probably won’t even be with a person whose name you’ll remember. Trust me.

Emotional and intellectual connection is hugely underrated, and an hour drinking at a bar with a stranger won’t get you that. If you do go home with that person, you’ll be able to tell you’re spending time with someone who could care less about you, and whom you’re equally non-invested in. I’d rather stay home and watch a movie or talk to someone with whom I genuinely share a bond.

Maybe that’s just me. I’m old, and not much fun. I’ve had enough wild times and meaningless encounters to identify the worthlessness of those experiences, and maybe everyone needs to go through that. Then again, I don’t really think it’s just me. I think there’s a lot of people like me, male and female, who are looking for much more than they’re ever going to find at the bar—but don’t know how to fill that empty space.

There are many shallow people out there looking for shallow things. If you’re not one of them, you have to set the bar high enough that you’re not going to tolerate anything less than what you want, just because you’re bored, insecure, or think you need to “play the game”. You don’t. You need to define the rules of your own game, especially if you live in Atlanta or DC or any other city that is known for being perpetually single, work-oriented, and transient.

Despite the fact that I’m hardly a dating authority, it amuses me that I get questions from both real life friends and readers of this blog whom I’ve never met, regarding the big questions pertaining to dating and relationships. I do hate to disappoint, but I don’t actually have the answers. I just have some viewpoints based on personal experience, and my own unique personality. You may be nothing like me, and find out that what works for me doesn’t work for you at all. :)

Nevertheless, I received an interesting note in the comments section from a young lady who is bothered by the fact that she’s spending time with a guy who always looks around the room whenever they go out together, and wonders if being bothered by this makes her too sensitive.

You’ve come to the right place for advice on this one, friendly blog reader. As it happens, I have a personal pet peeve regarding spending my time with guys who suffer from “wandering eye syndrome”.

Obviously, this habit of looking around all the time, turning the head or body away when an attractive woman walks by, not paying attention to a word you’re saying because the guy’s eyes are staring at someone else, or actually getting up and leaving you to talk to an available attractive female is unacceptable in a committed romantic partnership. However, I find it unacceptable behaviour in virtually any context, and that’s just how it is with me. I’m not going to allow myself to feel diminished by someone saying, via words or action, “I like your company, but I’m going to pay attention to someone who interests me more”.

I shouldn’t have to. Why in the world would I? My company is way more valuable than that, and I know it.

Most girls don’t, so they tolerate it. They worry that demanding more makes them bitchy or “oversensitive.” It doesn’t. It just means you’ve set standards for yourself, so kudos on that. I’ve ended up never going out with someone again or ending a friendship over some of these more extreme examples, because if there’s one thing I don’t enjoy, it’s being disrespected.

Certainly, there are levels of tolerance for this behaviour based on your relationship with someone. If it’s coming from a husband, fiance, or monogamous male partner, it’s way more of a problem than if it’s something that happens when you’re out with a platonic male friend.

However, there are many different types of relationships, and many different situations where “wandering eye syndrome” is a problem. For instance, if I’m on a first or second date with someone, I realise this person is obviously keeping his options open. However, if you’re that open that you can’t focus on getting to know me because you saw boobs walk by, you’re probably not for me. I’m not going to be calling you back, 100% guaranteed.

Likewise, if I am in an open relationship and have a secondary partner or “friend with benefits” in my life, I’m well aware I am not the only female in this person’s universe. However, when that person is spending time with me, I am. If we’re not in a monogamous relationship, you can do whatever you want (as long as you respect our agreed upon guidelines), but NOT EVER when I am in the room. Sorry, but I have to insist anyone I’m involved with, even if it’s not exclusive, or we’re not going to end up getting married and living happily ever after, shows me a certain amount of respect and interest. It’s freaking rude to hit on someone in front of anyone you’re currently sleeping with, and you have all the time we don’t spend together to meet other attractive women. This kind of relationship can be very complex and full of drama, or it can be very simple. I prefer to keep it simple, by having “relationship rules” that work for me. One of them is, “You may be seeing other people, and we may even discuss it, but respect me enough to keep that out of our time together.” If you don’t have the attention span, interest in spending time with me, or level of self-control where that guideline works for you, we’re not compatible, and probably should not have any kind of romantic involvement, period.

Of course, there are exceptions to the romantic relationship rule. You may be in a happily monogamous relationship with a guy who is a hopeless flirt, and it doesn’t bother you…except, the truth is, sometimes it does, but you don’t mention it. You may be in a happily poly relationship that’s going so well that it’s time for your primary and secondary partners to meet, and maybe they just happen to hit it off fabulously. In these cases, you’re just going to have to expect that someone paying attention to others is part of the package. But, for the most part, whether you’re committed, seeing other people, or just open; married or dating; on your first date or your fiftieth, you should expect that the other person has gone out with you to spend time with you and connect with you, not scour the room for other objects of interest. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion. I know other people who disagree, and are apt to categorise my way of looking at things as “high-maintenance” or “oversensitive.”

The place where it starts to get confusing, for many girls, is when it comes to spending time with male friends. I have some male friends I actually used to date or have hooked up with at some time in the past, some that I’ve been attracted to at some point, some who’ve been attracted to me at some point, and some where that kind of chemistry never once entered the occasion—and the disinterest in anything beyond friendship has always been mutual and obvious. So, whatever your past history or current feelings towards your friend, is it rude when your friend stops paying attention to your presence because someone else has caught his attention?

In a nutshell: yes. This doesn’t just apply to male friends, but all friends in general. If I’ve taken time out of my life to have dinner with you, I expect a little more regard from you than “Sorry, I didn’t hear you” because you were staring at something or someone else. I mean, I didn’t have to go out to dinner with you, and I certainly didn’t do so to feel invisible.

Again, there are exceptions. I’ve gone to singles’ bars with single friends, with the express purpose of helping them meet someone, and as a result, had to find my own way home. I invited an ex-boyfriend, a shy guy who hadn’t had luck finding any serious potential dates since our long-term relationship ended, to a party where he didn’t know anyone. He ended up leaving me as soon as we arrived to talk to a girl who caught his interest, and is now his wife. I can’t really fault him for that one. If the purpose of an outing with friends is to meet dating prospects or hook up, you can’t feel ignored, abandoned, or slighted when this happens…even if you have a huge secret crush on the friend you accompanied to the singles’ bar. (and why would you do that anyway?)

On the other hand, I’ve been on first dates where the guy I was with kept looking at the door like he was expecting someone the entire time. This clued me in that either he wasn’t interested, was a player, or was married. I’ve been out at a dive bar with a platonic friend who began rudely ignoring me to talk to a stripper who worked at the establishment next door, leaving me sitting completely alone and out of my element for some time. I’ve traveled 800 miles to visit a friend, who then pretty much ignored me the rest of the evening because he was more interested in talking to another single friend I brought out with me. I’ve gone to visit a friend in another city, attended a party with him where I didn’t know a single person, and had him abandon me for the night because I wasn’t as attractive of a girl as he was looking for, but he met someone who was. All of these were incredibly uncool scenarios where I ended up feeling as disposable and insignificant as the gum stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe, while simultaneously knowing I deserved a little more respect and regard from anyone who called me a friend. And, incidentally, these are all examples of situations that occurred with male friends with whom I didn’t have a romantic or physical relationship. You can imagine how colourful some of the others are. :P

Time is a precious commodity, and we don’t have unlimited amounts of it. I generally look to populate my universe with those genuinely interested in spending time with me. If someone isn’t, is halfhearted about it, or is always putting the potential hook-up above friendship, I don’t know that I’m that interested in keeping the friendship as part of my life. I don’t really spend time going to dinner or having drinks or catching up with acquaintances. That’s just me. I’m kind of hard to get to know on a one-on-one basis, and while I know a lot of people, I’m not very invested in those I know socially. I know I’ll always see them around. If I’m spending time with you one-on-one, it’s because we’ve achieved a certain level of respect, friendship, and emotional intimacy. It’s because, for one reason or another, I care about you or you interest me in a way that puts you amongst a select group of people. Because of this, I tend to develop extremely strong, long-term friendships…but am very choosy about them. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And if I turn down your dinner invite, it’s not personal. :P

I used to be as bad about disrespecting friends and romantic partners as anyone on the planet. I didn’t have the “wandering eye” problem, but I’d go to a party with one person only to leave with another. I was so inconsiderate that The Guy I Am Currently Dating, before we were actually dating but I knew he was interested in me, offered to drive me to another guy’s house—as well as the other guy—because the other guy was too drunk to do so. I had a friend come visit me, declare his attraction to me, and in order to deal with the uncomfortable situation, I got drunk and made out with some guy I didn’t even know or like very well. I’d have friends invite me to lunch or for drinks, and incapable of introverted communication, would immediately turn the event into something I invited 5 other friends to. It is clear that genuine intimacy terrified the hell out of me at this point in my life, and I went to all lengths to avoid it…but I was really hurtful towards others throughout the process of growing up.

Looking back, I see how reprehensible this behaviour was, and how I generally had no respect for the feelings of others, or concern for anyone but myself. I really was honestly one of the most self-absorbed and callously hedonistic people you’d ever meet, and it took a swift kick in the ass from life to get me to grow up. I think this is why I judge this behaviour so harshly in others, and have very little tolerance for it. I see not just the behaviour itself, but the selfishness and disregard for others that lurks behind it…and no matter what our relationship, I tend to not have space for that in my world. It’s something that’s going to piss me off, make me cry, or leave me confused because I know I deserve better from people, but am not getting it.

So, in reply to the person who came seeking advice about the “guy who looks around the room all the time when he’s with me”, I can only say that I don’t know this guy or what kind of relationship you have with him, but you deserve better, too. If the relationship is romantic or physical in any way, take it as a “He’s just not that into you” sign. If it’s a friend you’re interested in, find someone else worthy of your interest. If it’s a friend who is a purely platonic friend, realise he’s more interested in looking for dating options than your friendship, and take it or leave it as you wish.

No matter what, it’s worth having a discussion about. I once considered not spending time with someone because whenever we were out, his eyes would constantly move around, or he wouldn’t make eye contact, and I’d feel I wasn’t being heard. I finally brought it up, and expressed my frustration. He apologised and explained he had ADD, and sometimes, it was hard for him to sit still and focus on any one thing, task, or person for too long. It isn’t always personal, so if someone really matters to you, don’t just jump ship before bringing it up.

However, if someone abandons you at a bar or a party, or you’re out on a date and you excuse yourself, only to find them elsewhere, talking to a hotter/more interesting/more sexually available person, just move on. If you’re dating someone who flirts with others in your presence, including your friends, to the point that it makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably time to move on. There are enough people out there who will assign you greater respect and value that you don’t need to try to make excuses for that behaviour. It hurts when this happens, but there are many people who will move heaven and earth to spend time with you.

Why not demand that level of value, instead of trying to convince someone who doesn’t see it that you’re worth it? You’ll never convince that person, whereas someone else may offer it freely, just because you’ve put it out there that you don’t intend to settle for less.

When it comes to the history of my dating and romantic life, I’m not really in any position to complain. When I look around at the number of single female friends who are constantly bemoaning the lack of eligible dating partners and end up getting hooked up with people who clearly don’t treat them in a way of which they are deserving, I can both relate and not relate at the same time. Many of these girls come to me for dating advice, because my story is not theirs. It doesn’t make it a better or easier story, mind you, but just a different one.

I’ve never had problems meeting people. Perhaps it is because, as discussed in a different post, I take a different approach to dating and relationships, in that I don’t really invest myself in strangers. It takes work to get to know me, and anyone who is really interested is going to put in that work. Whether that way of doing things means I end up with a good friend, a lover, a committed romantic partner, a confusing yet positive life situation, or some combination of the above, what it does mean is that I don’t surround myself with people who treat me in a way that is less than I deserve. I am not disposable, a one-night stand, an object of amusement, or someone you wouldn’t want to hang out with, regardless of how our relationship operates. I’m pretty happy with that. The result is that I have some awesome folks in my life.

I also tend to be more open-minded when it comes to who I choose to spend my time with. Like everyone else, I have my superficial side, but things like looks, money, what kind of car someone drives, and what they do for a living is rather an afterthought when meeting someone. The thing that’s going to get me to call or e-mail the day after I meet someone is “It was awesome to meet you, because it seemed like we had a sincere emotional connection.”

If I’ve had a downfall in my dating life, or a masochistic tendency, it’s my penchant for falling for unavailable people or idealising impossible relationships. I’m rarely interested in those who actively pursue me with compliments and flowers and e-mails telling me how great I am. I’m appreciative, but whatever inspires someone to spend way too much time thinking about another person, that doesn’t light up that particular switchboard for me.

On the other hand, I have no tolerance for chauvinists who approach women as objects or conquests, people who are too shallow to care about anything other than getting drunk, hooking up, and never talking to one another again, and people who outwardly show disdain or disrespect. They say there’s a fine line between love and hate, but I know where the line is, and I’m not foolish enough to fall for anyone who doesn’t think I’m awesome.

No, my particular downfall is the person I *think* may be interested in me, but I’m not sure. Or, it’s the person I *know* is interested in me “but”, and “if only”. “If only I were single when I met you”, “If only we fit together better on a practical level”, “If only it weren’t impossible to make this work”.

I actually have awesome intuition when it comes to these things. If I *think* someone is interested in me, but they refuse to acknowledge that—because they don’t see it turning into a relationship, because they’re already in a relationship and trying to observe boundaries, because I somehow scare or intimidate them, because they’re playing a game where they’re counting on indifference to get my attention—I’m almost always right. And because I don’t take the most traditional approach to relationships, indifference and uncertainty does not dissuade me. It actually makes me feel more interested and more attached to someone who may or may not be the best choice for me.

A wise friend of mine told me it’s simply because I’m a natural-born huntress; I enjoy the chase, the idealism of a relationship that could be over the reality of a difficult, messy one that actually is. I enjoy the attention of those who are unavailable—friends who can never become lovers, lovers who can never become committed partners, committed partners who may not be lifetime soulmates—because I am at heart committmentphobic, easily bored, and enjoy the thrill of infatuation.

This may be true. For instance, I recall once taking a class every Monday, and looking forward to it because there was this guy, and I couldn’t tell whether or not he was interested in me. Yet, for three hours every week, I was interested in finding out. I wasn’t yet the person I am today, the one who’d just come out and ask, or actively pursue the guy, but I knew how to read people. I knew that if he were totally indifferent to my presence, I wouldn’t bother looking forward to seeing him every Monday. Yet, he never made a direct move. It was like a game, and one I looked forward to participating in every week. (As a side note, we did end up dating for awhile. It’s one of my more memorable and life-changing experiences, but we were far from right for one another. If people who are extremely opposite in personality and approach to life struggle to make it work, people who are effectively the same person struggle even more.)

I have another friend, one I’ve known for many, many years. I really don’t know if he’s ever found me attractive. Neither of us has ever made a move, or asked one another out when we were both single at the same time. Yet, for years, I’ve always been thrilled to run into this person when I do. It’s that weird thing that always makes you smile when you see someone, and you don’t know why. I don’t even actually think I’m attracted to him—he’s not my type, on so many levels. But I enjoy our friendship, and I enjoy the unspoken knowledge of “There’s something a little different in the way we relate than just being friends who get along.” If I *did* know he were attracted to me on more than an intuitive level, it would really create some weirdness and dysfunction and potentially ruin a friendship. Likewise, if I found out that over the many years we’ve known each other, he was never once attracted to me, I’d doubt myself, my intuition, and my ability to read others. Therefore, our friendship will always stay exactly as it is, at least if I have anything to do with it.

I also have people in my life who, in the world of polyamorous relationships, would (or have in the past), become ideal secondary partners. These relationships have oddly been the strongest, least complex, and emotionally fulfilling relationships/friendships in my life, despite by nature being something that should be complex. Sometimes, it’s just easy, and it’s because you know where and how someone belongs in your life, at least at a certain point in time. There is a certain freedom in those relationships that is important to me, and even during my monogamous relationships, I’ve somehow kept what I term “romantic friendships” in that particular space in my life. Yet, if we were both single, available, on the same page and in the same place in life at the exact same time, attempting to have a more committed, exclusive relationship would probably do irreparable damage to all the good things we share.(yes, lessons learned the hard way.)

Not all of the soulmates you encounter in life are those you’re supposed to consider white-picket-fence-marriage-and-babies material. People are in your life for different reasons, and if they’re unavailable to you on a certain level, it’s probably because they’re never going to fit into the convenient little space you wonder if they might—and it has little to do with other people, other relationships, practical obstacles, and whatnot. If someone is the right person for you, you’re going to move the world around to fit them in your life. Otherwise, you should be content with knowing they are meant to fit into your life in some other way…even if everyone’s feelings are utterly confused about the situation.

Knowing this does not keep me from being most interested in those when I’m not quite sure how someone feels about me, or what the possibilities are moving forward, or whether or not life circumstances will be subject to change in the future….but my intuitive sense and simple enjoyment of the time I spend with someone tells me there’s more to the story than “It’s really awesome that we’re friends”. This is a dangerous habit, one The Guy I Am Currently Dating would most likely prefer I did not have. I think I might consider myself a more monogamous person by nature if I did not have this particular tendency, and did not feel consistently energized and intrigued by the emotional uncertainty of these situations. On the other side of the coin, these situations and people always affect me on a deeper level than they should, so you think I’d want to stop developing serious emotional bonds with people who exist in my life as question marks.

The thing that always throws me is that I’m so infrequently wrong in how I assess a question mark situation, and the type of relationship I end up having with someone….or at least, getting some clear resolution on how someone feels about me.

Sometimes, the answer really is “It’s complicated”, and you need to learn to back off, let go, and have a less emotionally bonded, more platonic friendship…which is difficult, if you’ve never really shared that sphere of existence with someone before. It’s like learning to relate to someone in a whole new way, and it’s not easy, and it feels like a genuine loss for everyone involved. But, sometimes, if you treasure the friendship, it’s necessary (which is how I’ve managed to stay friends with a large percentage of ex-es who have moved on and are now married or committed to other people.) Somehow, it’s easier to move on when you know how the story ends than when something remains an eternal question mark.

Other times, the answer is “It’s complicated”, but there’s something beyond friendship worth exploring, and simply ignoring it causes confusion, emotional angst, and has the power to destroy a friendship. At some point, you have to take chances in order to find out what someone means to you, how they really fit into your life. I think it’s important to assess and appreciate all relationships for what they are, not what you’d like them to be, or how they most conveniently fit into your life at any given time. Sitcoms in the 1990′s loved to address this “friendships-that-are-more-but-nobody-ever-talks-about-it” dynamic; we were all intrigued by Ross and Rachel, Jerry and Elaine, Daphne and Niles. While the situation in real life is just as present and complicated, the answers are not always as black and white as in sitcom-land. It’s possible to fall in love with your friends, be friends with people you once dated, have lovers that are amongst your best friends but you’d never want to spend your life with in a monogamous relationship. It’s possible that most relationships are, a majority of the time, a question mark.

It turns out, I’m not alone. Women are, by nature, attracted to and most likely to be seduced by uncertainty. While many men I know have told me they’ve been attracted to me as a result of being direct and straightforward and not flirting and playing games “just because”, I’ve more than likely been attracted to them because they once existed as a question mark in my life, and there was a need for me to be straightforward, direct, and figure out intuitively how someone felt about me before making a move that can’t be rescinded. More proof that, on a fundamental level, men and women are wired differently and respond differently to different approaches by different types of people.

Sometimes, it amazes me that anyone ever gets together…or stays together…or has clear and simple convictions about the nature of relationships. I actually don’t know if anyone does. We’re all pretty much just winging it here.

But me, I’m hopelessly attracted to things in the shape of a question mark. Fortunately for me, most of life is just that. I’m unlikely to get bored with living anytime soon.

I started writing this blog a few days ago, before my internet crashed. I now have internet and TV back in my life again..so, YAY! However, there will be no obligatory 4th of July post. I hope all my American readers had a lovely one!:)

From time to time, I get questions from readers of this blog—something that is often shocking to me, because I tend to only assume that unless you’re a close friend who is somehow invested in my world, there’s little here to interest you. In fact, the tagline on some of the pages from Jaded Elegance, v.2, read “Unless you’re terribly bored or hopelessly in love with me, stop reading and do something more interesting.”

Fortunately for me, either there are a lot of bored people on the internet, or I have a way with admirers. :P My warning wasn’t heeded.

One of the most common things people write to me is that they’re seeking advice regarding crushes. You’d think this is confined to being a 14 year-old girl problem, but it’s not. I get notes from women who are part of my generation asking about secret office romances, and those in their 40′s who are newly single and ready to get back out on the dating scene. Men of the world, I’ve come to one giant conclusion: for all the time you spend thinking about sex, relationships, dating, flirting, and attractive people, you’re remarkably oblivious to those around you. There are a lot of women walking around this world with secret crushes, and while perhaps many are subtle enough to never let you know about it, I’m sure that some are dropping hints here and there.

I’ll be honest. For a girl who built a blog around the concept of always being infatuated with one thing or person or another, and is working on a book of poetry based on 11 years worth of “intrigues”, I’m not terribly good with crushes. It isn’t that I don’t have them, it’s more that I don’t have that genetic female predisposition to keep the information to myself for prolonged periods of time.

In high school, I was an accomplished flirt who secretly enjoyed seeing the faux-machismo of teenaged boys disappear when you put them on the spot or made them feel uncomfortable. I was never the sweet, innocent, easily offended type. I learned to counter sexual harassment with equally overt sexual harassment, as if to say, “See how you like it”. *laughs* As both they and I became more experienced in the ways of the world, I learned to combine my tendency to flirt with witty banter. Somewhere along the way, witty banter gave way to a remarkable capacity to be very straightforward, in a way that prospective partners either find genuinely appealing or quite off-putting. I have to confess, it amuses me a little when I leave someone a little speechless or make them turn various shades of red. I’m the most harmless person out there, truly. It shocks me that people don’t always see me in that way.

However, the point is, I’m terrible at crushes because I’m too damned straightforward to be charming. This is why men don’t woo me, don’t show up at my door with flowers, don’t move heaven and earth to get my attention. I don’t play the game properly. After feeling confused about whether or not my crush might like me, or if not, why not; after suffering through a few weeks or months of mixed signals and flirtation may mean something, but may not, I just come out and ask. Sometimes, it’s a calculated decision, in the form of a heart-to-heart conversation. Other times, it’s a drunk text that says, effectively, “Hey, you idiot…have you not noticed I like you, and why aren’t you doing anything about that?”

I would love to be a more subtle, charming person. I would love to be that person who engages people with a mixture of inaccessibility and little coy looks here and there. I would love to be the girl who waits three years for her crush to notice her, and have the world’s greatest love story ensue. I sometimes think that men would take me far more seriously if I behaved with the demure subtlety women are supposed to possess in these matters. But I am impatient, and I don’t really hide emotions well. I don’t see the point in playing games, and life is too short not to tell people how you feel about them…especially if the way you feel is that someone else is an awesome person. At the very worst, you’ve made the day of someone who isn’t interested in you by expressing your admiration, and you can get over it over a cosmo and some reality TV. At the very best, you’ve saved you and another person years of waiting for one another to make a move, express a feeling, or wonder “What if?” in a more out-loud fashion.

If there’s one positive thing to be said about me, it’s that people always know where they stand with me, and if they don’t, all they need to do is ask. It’s surprising to me how many people are reticent to ask about things they spend time wondering about. If I really want to know, I lose sleep trying to keep it inside. *laughs*

I think I rather gave up on crushes when I was a teenager, and saw how they never got me anything except a lot of emotional angst. I think, the first time someone I liked asked someone else out instead of me, and I cried over it, only to have the guy later tell me, “I had no idea you were interested, and it seemed like she was.”, that crushes seemed like a cute, romanticised, idealistic idea, but weren’t going to get you anywhere with the object of your affection.

I have intrigues and infatuations, and most of them are short-lived. They hang around long enough for me to write a poem, to learn the hard way that someone wasn’t who I’d imagined them to be, and my idealistic heart is devastated for a week or two, until the next intrigue or infatuation comes along. If it’s been a few months or a few years, and I still have feelings for someone, I likely will have brought it up. Sometimes it’s in the form of asking “Why haven’t you ever been interested in me?”. Sometimes it’s “I know you’re in a relationship, and nothing can happen between us, but I’m sure it’s obvious I like you”. Other times, it’s “Why don’t you pay attention to me? Everyone pays attention to me.” More than one of my long-term relationships has started with this sort of straightforward, brutal honesty.

I’d love to be the person who has crushes, who has people who secretly have crushes on her. Alas, I am too direct not to let my crushes know and remove the mystery, and too intuitive not to know when someone in my life is attracted to me or has feelings for me.

When girls—and women—write to me for advice on their crushes, my advice is always this: life is short, and a broken heart doesn’t stick around forever, but the chance you didn’t take will haunt you for a lifetime. Express how you feel, in a way that feels comfortable to you. Both men and women are equally flattered by attention and admiration, so why keep it a closely guarded secret? There’s a certain romantic allure to the the crush that took years to get off the ground and eventually ended up in a wedding, but in real life, it doesn’t usually work out that way. People don’t stay unattached forever. Many times, your crush ends up with someone else not because he never noticed you, but because he never noticed you noticing him. Not everyone is particularly intuitive or emotionally observant.

If your crush is someone who is simply unattainable for one reason or another, take it for what it’s worth. It’s possible to be intrigued by people you don’t even know, as well as by people with whom you can never possibly share a romantic connection. But, if that person inspires you in some way, use it to be inspired. Whether it leads to that added little boost that comes from harmless flirting around the water cooler, a crazy night that wasn’t supposed to happen but leaves you singing annoyingly happy songs for days, or an actual date that makes you feel 15 again, crushes have potential. And if they don’t, because someone is unavailable or disinterested or the stars just don’t align, they can still brighten up the routine, the mundane, and make you feel a little more alive and engaged in the world.

Don’t be afraid to express your admiration, even via harmless flirtation. Being inspired and being admired make everyone feel just a little better, as long as you’re not the creepy stalker type. You have to know when you’re pushing too hard, when you’re no longer amusing, but a little weird. Don’t be that person.

I had someone tonight tell me that one of the things they really like about me is my brutal honesty. I observed that, running a social group–and having a lot of hobbies, interests, friends, and a personal life aside—I met an awful lot of people each year, and it was impossible for me to remember each person’s name. I half-jokingly pointed out that because I was never going to be genuine friends with 98% of the people I met each year, I don’t learn anyone’s name until I’ve seen them around three times and have reason to believe they’re likely to be a part of my world. Of course, this “brutal honesty” was interpreted in the most humourous way possible, with people poking fun at my lack of social delicacy, but it’s true. Someone I used to know used to say he only had so many spaces in his “friend book”, and from time to time, was not accepting applications.

It made me genuinely wish to be friends, however, with the person who remarked upon liking my brutal honesty. That is the kind of person with whom I inevitably interact with very well. And, ideally, it is how all my “secret crushes” work.(although, to clarify, the individual straightforward enough to comment upon my straightforwardness is not a crush, nor does that person have a crush on me. I realise that could have been read in a confusing manner.) I don’t always seek out new intrigues or have room for a fascination with another person in my life, because I may already feel my life is either rather content and busy as it is, or because it’s already way too complicated. When I *am* intrigued by someone, I don’t really want to wait three years to find out they were equally intrigued. I like flirting and romance and coy little games, but I guess I just like straightforward communication better…even about situations that are less than straightforward, or one dimensional.

It isn’t that hard to say, “I kind of really think you’re an awesome person”. In fact, more people should say that sort of thing to one another, whether it’s accompanied by a secret crush or physical attraction or complex friendship, or it’s someone you’ve literally just met and find cool.

That’s always my advice, for what it’s worth…but I’d love one day for one of my readers to write me back with advice on how to have a crush/intrigue/infatuation I keep to myself for all eternity. There’s something about that ideal that appeals to my incurably old-fashioned, romantic side. Sadly, too little of me is as old-fashioned or demure as I’d like to be. :P

Earlier today, The Guy I Am Currently Dating, who would be proud to label himself a “geek guy”, forwarded this article to me. It took two seconds for me to roll my eyes. I’m sure the article came my way because he was sure I’d blog about it, and of course I did.

Why is there a question mark in the title? Of course it’s offensive. It encourages stereotypes and how to pretend to be someone you’re not to attract someone you have to work to click with, rather than just organically bonding with someone who seems like a natural match. It’s no different than “7 Steps To Get A Mega-Hottie To Talk To You”. Could the media stop perpetuating this bullshit?

What about “Stop trying to find a certain kind of guy by pretending to be something you’re not, and maybe you’ll actually meet someone who likes you? ”

I’ve attracted a geek guy in my life. Or 20. Or maybe way more. I’ve had serious relationships and meaningful friendships with more than a few. Some of them are fairly well-known geek guys. And, you know what? I don’t watch sci-fi, Felicia Day annoys the hell out of me, I don’t program computers, I don’t play video games, and I don’t see the need to dress like Slave Leia or dress in duct tape to get attention.

I have some geeky hobbies. I keep a blog. I play trivia every week. I’m a literary geek, a theatre geek. I’ve been to both Dragon*Con and Burning Man. But I also love shopping, reality TV, and all things girly. I don’t wear glasses. I’m emotional rather than rational, and people don’t often see the intense and substantial side of me until they get to know me.. Yet, geeky guys tend to be attracted to me, and although it’s not always an instantaneous attraction, I often find myself falling for geeky, introverted guys with whom, on the surface, I don’t have much in common. Often, though, it’s a balance that works. My strongest and most emotionally bonded relationships and friendships have been with geeky guys, and I don’t have to pretend to like Star Trek or Halo to build those.

Not every person is attracted to the same kind of person. One type of geeky guy may want an uber-rational, scientific, logical type of person who will communicate and share interests on a more intellectual level. Another might want an outgoing social butterfly who is going to open him up to new experiences. Still another may want a girl who genuinely enjoys the same hobbies. Some may simply want the hottest girl that’s willing to sleep with them, even if the relationship is largely superficial on both ends…you know, kind of like every “type” of shallow person out there. Thinking that a guy you label as “geeky” is a stereotype is just kind of ignorant. Thinking that turning yourself into Felicia Day or Zooey Deschanel is what’s going to land his attention is as stupid as assuming he’s looking for Scarlett Johannsen or Angelina Jolie.

For the record, I’ve had geeky guys I’ve been attracted to tell me they didn’t want to date me because they perceived me as the crazy manic pixie type that was going to disrupt their universe, or because I was too outgoing and socially exhausting. I’ve had geeky guys break up with me for low-key, plain librarian types, and for blonde, surgically-enhanced California girls. People change. Just because someone is intelligent or unconventional doesn’t mean they know what they’re looking for in another person, or that what that person thinks is right today is going to be right in the future. So, not shockingly, nothing in this article has much value, unless you’re completely one-dimensional and seeking an equally one-dimensional partner you can manipulate into falling for you, and never changing or growing.

I’ll admit, my life is a little bit of a stereotype in certain ways. Quirky manic pixie attracts geeky guys who want help coming out of their shells? Yeah, not an uncommon story. It’s happened to me more than once. I’ve “inspired people”, helped them to “explore life” and “come out of the shadows” and “live more”, only to have them leave me when they’ve figured out they’re now who they want to be and don’t need me anymore—or they can land a prettier, richer, or saner girl thanks to their newfound confidence and experience. They don’t show that part of the story in all those indy romance flicks.

I’m just me. I’m kind of smart. I’m kind of quirky. I’m kind of attractive. I’m kind of off-the-wall sometimes. I can be a little too much for some people. But geeky guys tend to like me because I’m unconventional and willing to accept people for who they are. I don’t try to change anyone. I don’t judge people for not being like me. In fact, I often am drawn to people because of it I’ve learned there’s a balance between similarities and differences that is essential to a relationship that works for me. This is not true for every person. The people for whom this same balance is important seem to seek me out…or, if not, I seek them out. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I must repeat: I have never, ever played Halo. I don’t read comic books. Sci-fi bores the hell out of me. I suck at math. And I’m not the shy, quirky librarian type. If you are into these things and want to date a geeky guy because you have stuff in common, that’s awesome. But this article isn’t going to help you with that either.

Yes, I naturally attract geeky guys. I think it has to be the blog…which many of them have refused to read over the years. *lol* Surprisingly, I don’t do it purposely. For a long time, I defined my “type” as someone way different. And then I learned the shocking truth: people aren’t categories. It’s not “geeky vs. hip”, “assholes vs. nice guys”, “friends vs. romantic partners”, “alike vs. different”. People are not simple, and relationships certainly are not on one dimension of compatibility. This is part of the reason I’m fully convinced that people who go into relationships looking for everything they’ve ever wanted in one person, or need to be “completed” are doomed to fail.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced with geeky guys is not meeting them or attracting interest, but convincing them to be straightforward and emotionally open enough to take a chance on approaching me and trusting me. More than once, I’ve heard someone was afraid of me. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “A girl like you could really hurt me”, I’d have some serious extra spending cash. But, again, that kind of judgment really isn’t good. Anyone who really knew me would know I’m not the heartbreaker, and not the manipulative type. In fact, I’m not a type at all.

Neither are the geeky guys I know, even if they are proud of their passions, accomplishments, intellect, and unconventional interests.

I really resent articles like this that tell you how to change yourself and other people to attract a certain kind of person. It’s demeaning to you, and it’s demeaning to that person. What happened to just being yourself and attracting people who click with you? The more you know and love who you are, the more objectionable the idea of changing yourself or anyone else in order to attract a partner or make a relationship work.

Being as authentic as possible is what works for me, and it means I don’t have to spend a lifetime pretending to want to stay in playing Halo on a Friday night when I’m planning to put together a social event. It means I don’t have to dress as or emulate a TV character in order to be “different”, because quirky is what’s in right now.

I think a lot of people who identify themselves as “geeky” go through life looking for a certain level of acceptance, someone who really feels “I care about you because you’re you, not because I see you as a type or because you might have potential if I change you enough.” I think it’s not just something “geeky” people feel and want, but something anyone who’s ever felt a little bit not like everyone else has experienced. I think I attract unconventional people because I understand the importance of authenticity and acceptance. If you don’t have that, you don’t have the kind of openness and level of trust that builds strong relationships.

If you want to attract a geeky guy, sure, you can do the stuff that’s in this article, and find a guy who’s interested in sleeping with you and hanging out with you for a little while, until it becomes obvious you have nothing in common and pretense wears thin. That’s true of almost any “type” of person you want to consciously try to attract.

If you want to have a meaningful relationship or friendship with a geeky guy, don’t do a single thing this article mentions. In fact, give up on the idea of people as “types” or attracting a “type” because it’s cool, or what they might have to offer you, and just be comfortable enough with who you are to put it out there and attract people because they are somehow right for you.

Maybe then you’ll be on your way to a healthy relationship, whether your partner is a geek, a hippie, a prep, a yuppie, a hipster, or any other “type” you can think of. Because, in reality, that person isn’t representative of that “type”. They’re just a compatible partner for you, on whatever level that connection happens, and you don’t have to fake it to find it.

Spending your life faking it isn’t good for anyone. I don’t care if this article, or Cosmpolitan, is telling you otherwise. Both you and your potential partner(s) deserve waaaaay better, right?

Yeah, there’s way too much bullshit on the internet. I exist to counteract that. :P