I realize that it’s not even halfway through 2011, but I would like to impart 11 lessons from my love life (admittedly not the most healthy year of dating I’ve had) that I have learned thus far this year:
1. On dating sites, I have picked up on some interesting things along the way that may be helpful to other online daters. At least from my experience, a majority of the guys who identify as those who “rarely” drink are whom I would consider social drinkers. Those who are “social” drinkers are frequently heavier drinkers. Some drink daily, some often can’t sleep without a drink, drink when they are depressed and lonely (which is at least several days a week) and will constantly try to get you, a non-drinker, to drink with them so they don’t feel “guilty.”
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have anything against drinking in general. Even without the medical reasons why I can’t drink right now, I have a low tolerance but I enjoy a mixed drink now and then. But a 40-year-old man who feels like he needs to get piss-drunk several times a week, with people easily more than 10 years younger than he is, or else he feels like he’s missing out on all the fun in life just strikes me as sad.
2. In the same vein, of those who identify as non-smokers, at least 40 percent of them are daily, fairly heavy smokers. I’m not sure why they think you won’t figure this out within the first couple dates unless you’ve completely lost your sense of smell, so guys, honesty really is the best policy when it comes to stating whether you actually smoke.
3. A stoner is a stoner, whether he is a 5’5” stoner from 2004 or a 6′ stoner from 2010. Stoners don’t always self-identify, but if he has to toke up before he eats, before he has sex, before he goes to bed, before he goes for a drive…chances are, he’s a stoner. In which he case, no matter how much he may fall in love with you, you will always come in second to sweet Mary Jane.
4. If he asks to borrow money on your first date, it’s probably not a good sign of his financial well-being. However, with gas prices being what they are, if he’s driving really far back and forth just to see you, it is polite to pay your share now and then.
5. Regarding exes: Trying to hang out with/casually date/hook-up with an ex that you were in a very serious relationship with for three years and lived with for more than two years is not recommended. Even if you were the one who left. Maybe especially if you were the one who left. Of course, if your ex now has a child, who was conceived shortly after he saw you with a new boyfriend, which drove him into a hurt and angry fit, this complicates things a hundred times more.
You will be faced with confusion, guilt and anxiety when you realize what you mistook as a friendship finally being able to spark up again is re-framed into something more for your ex. You will be bewildered when he starts calling multiple times a week to spend time together, even under the guise of just “hanging out,” texting throughout the day, and suggesting you come with him to get-togethers with friends…just like the old days.
6. Getting back together with your ex after more than a year apart may seem like a great idea at the start, and it may even feel even better than the last year of your two-year relationship, but inevitably what was wrong that made your run before will make you run again…most likely sprint without looking back. And hey, maybe that’s a good thing.
Now you’ve learned to stop looking back with this ex who has managed to still have a pull on you throughout the year-and-a-half apart. You can stop the “what-ifs” on this relationship, which should have had the door closed and fully locked on long ago.
7. If you are disabled/unemployed/live with your parents/don’t have a license/etc. and feel un-datable in your present life status—and perhaps others have told you this—you may be surprised. This doesn’t necessarily mean you are completely out of the game. I’m going through chemo, on health leave from work, previously been sick to my stomach four to five days out of seven, struggled with walking the last several weeks and been mostly bed-bound. And yet…I have exes who are still chasing after me, okcupid users who still want to pursue me and I finally went out on a date with someone new this past week and he’s ready to call us in a relationship already (moving a little fast, no??). Your illness doesn’t define you, unless you let it.
8. Even though some guys hate when you do this, use your (clear-minded) friends, and possibly family members, as a sounding board when you need to. If things don’t feel or sound right, it helps to talk it over with someone “impartial” because the more you talk it over in your own head, the more prone you are to rationalize certain negative behaviors. “Well, he hasn’t asked to do anything with me in four weeks because he knows how sick I am, and he wants me to get better.” Um, no. Last year, that made no difference—he was right there by your side, and you weren’t even dating.
9. Listen to how a guy interacts with his friends and others in his life. It’s a good indicator of how, one day in the future, he probably is going to interact with you. Pay special attention to how he does or does not interact with his female friends and his mother. And if he doesn’t have anyone he interacts with, that also tells you something important.
10. Don’t settle. Seriously. Even if you’re feeling down and lonely, you deserve the best. You deserve exactly who and what you’re looking for. If you find out that cool guy who is tall, cute, “sporty”, aspiring writer with whom you felt you could have great, long conversations with until 4 a.m. is also a stoner, still hung up on his ex-fiancée, works 2 or 3 days a week so he can stay on unemployment and describes himself as “lost”…and there is also an attractive, athletic, driven and ambitious guy who is family-oriented, successful in his career, loves to travel, ready for commitment and doesn’t want to rush things, who addresses struggles and pulls himself back up in healthy ways….well, like I said, don’t settle. And you’re perfectly within your right to choose neither of the two.