On Dating Women & Falling Flat on Your Face

 

Last month, I was sliding head first down a pole and landed flat on my face. And you know what? While it was embarrassing and uncomfortable for a moment, I’m fine. I posted on Instagram that it reminded me of something important: in fitness and life, falling on your face happens but it’s not the worst and you get over it.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been steadily taking pole dance classes. I’ve advanced from the beginner to intermediate classes – but in June, I decided to try an advanced level class. My instructor assured me that I’d be alright in a higher level class, but I was nervous – and for good reason. The advanced pole classes were a lot more challenging (hence, the face-plant) and I went from being one of the better more experienced people in class to one of the worst. My body aches after every class and I’m covered in bruises. Weeks will go by where it feels like I’m making zero progress and everything is just hard, but then something will happen – a new move will come easily or I’ll finally get the hang of one tiny element of a combo and it will renew my faith in the learning process. It’s exhilarating but also deeply uncomfortable, but I keep showing up anyways. Did I mention that all of this learning happens while wearing little more than a bathing suit?!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this process and realized something about myself: I don’t like doing things that I’m not good at. I can be a total ham and a bit of a show-off, so I tend to only gravitate towards activities where I can shine. That’s part of the reason I like my barre classes – with 15 years of ballet training under my belt, I’m confident I won’t embarrass myself  and literally fall on my face.

I’ve noticed this pattern outside of my fitness life as well. I gravitate towards hip hop and house music nights partly because I love the music and know how to move to it (thanks all of those insomniac nights I spent in university watching music videos on BET!) and avoid Latin clubs even though I enjoy the music (my salsa moves are “meh”). I write about dating and relationships professionally because I’m good at it even though, sometimes – ok, often – I think about breaking out of the niche I’ve created for myself. And I date men, because men have been approaching me since I was 12 years old (#creepy, but that’s another post altogether), getting their attention is rather easy and I like dating men – well, mostly. With the exception of hip hop & house music (which I’ll never give up), these activities provide me with validation but don’t necessarily satisfy me or help me grow.

In January I decided my word for 2017 was going to be “shift” so, I’ve embracing that and making a few changes.

[VERY DEEP BREATH]

I’ve decided to open myself up to dating women, as well. For some people this may be a huge surprise (I’ve spent the past 8 years writing a very hetero blog) – for others who know me in real life, maybe less so. This decision isn’t spur of the moment, but rather years in the making. I’ve been attracted to women since I was in my early 20’s, but never really did anything about it. This is partly because I was always dating men and wasn’t sure how to even go about trying to date women, but it was also because I was scared – not of what my friends and family would say (they’re very openminded and supportive) but rather how people who aren’t close to me would perceive my actions. It’s like I could almost see the comments section (“a dating writer who banged a bunch of dudes and now is dating women…how cliche” or worse, “she’s just doing this for a good story/blog fodder.” ) 

And yes, I realize how ridiculous this sounds. When I told a friend and colleague about this, she said, “it’s none of their business. Fuck the haters!” and reminded me that people have been making erroneous assumptions about me for years. True.

Plus, I haven’t wanted to define myself with a label. I’m still physically attracted to men, but lately I find myself more emotionally (and in many ways, physically) attracted to women. So, I feel like this is an unanswered question that needs be explored.

So, why am I sharing this now?

Because I’ve learned something over the past month. While I’m extremely confident (to the point of almost being cocky) with men, I’m hopelessly bad at dating women. I’m shy, I’m awkward and I have no idea what I’m doing. It feels a bit like I’ve gone back to square one and I’m back in high school again. But like the pole class that kicks my ass on a weekly basis, I keep showing up anyways – for better or worse – because I know there’s something for me to learn here.

Sharing my thoughts through writing is how I process things. So, while I won’t be providing play by plays of the dates I go on or the people I meet while dating in Victoria, I’ll probably be writing about my general thoughts and experiences throughout this journey.

Spoiler: talking to women on Tinder is a thousand percent better than talking to dudes. You know, in case you ever wondered.

Here’s 10 Guys That I’d Like To Meet

Hi, it’s me. Still single. Still 35 (at least for another 12 days.) A few weeks ago, authors Blythe Roberson and Jason Adam Katzenstein posted in the New Yorker an illustrated article titled Types of Guys I Would Like To Date, If Someone Could Please Introduce Me to Them. I couldn’t help but giggle. I mean, what 30-something woman hasn’t yearned to date a guy that owns a rug? (“a huge achievement, as rugs cost millions of dollars and require vacuuming“). The piece also made me ponder the kinds of guys I would like to be introduced to. (Because, let’s face it — the singles in Victoria leave quite a bit to be desired.)

Because I don’t have the artistic skills of a New Yorker cartoonist, Joe the Intern and his friends have stepped in to help with this post.

So, gather around my friends while I cue up Michael Buble’s “I Still Haven’t Met You Yet” and press the repeat button. Here’s some men I’m interested in getting to know.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

40-something Musical Yogis with 20-something rockstar dreams, need not apply. Whether it’s a full time job or a side-hustle, this guy likes making things and he wants to make things with you (websites! music! photos! smoked meat! pickles! A new fence! Stop animation with Joe the Intern!) I know you’re out there. If your idea of a great Saturday is brunch, followed by creating something together, I want to be your Ride and #DIY. (photo credit)

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Sure, he mainlines kale juice and eats sandwiches that are made with thinly cut organic tempeh steaks instead of bread, but he doesn’t need to talk about it. He’ll never shame you for not drinking as many vegetables as he does, because he totally gets the concept of balance. I.e. there’s a time for kale chips and a time for diving face first into a stack of chicken and waffles.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

When I was in university, it wasn’t uncommon to meet guys who’d say stuff like, “oh, you like 2Pac? I only listen to conscious hip-hop or stuff from the 80’s.” These guys are still around. They read Pitchfork and the only Kendrick Lamar song they think is relevant is the one you’ve never heard of because “it’s so obscure.”  The Guy Who Isn’t Afraid to Shamelessly Rock out to Lil’ Wayne is the opposite of that guy. He’s politically aware and understands why something might be offensive but isn’t opposed to dancing around the living room with you as Weezy chants “a milli a milli a milli.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

The stack of Prince LPs and his turntable are the only church he needs. He thinks “Call My Name” is one of the sexiest, most romantic, panty-dropping songs of all time and to your delight, insists that you go as The Kid and Apollonia for Halloween. When you fidget in your costume, he says, “I don’t care that you’re not an ingenue of indeterminate ethnic origin, you look amazing in that leather bustier.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

No, I’m not talking about one of those greaseballs on Millionaire Matchmaker that owns a yacht. I’m thinking of something more organic, like you meet at a record store in Silverlake and you catch each other’s eye because you’re both wearing the same Prince pin on the lapel of your matching leather jackets. Flash forward to the future where you’re sitting out by your backyard pool perched high in the Elysian Hills, eating tacos and writing dialogue for Joe the Intern.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Feminist Ryan Gosling, but he’s Idris Elba. He would never use the hashtag #NotAllMen seriously and often says stuff like, “Hey, girl, you’ve worked really hard today. Let me do the dishes while you kick back and photograph your collection of weird Ken Dolls.”  

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Colin Miller meets Jesse Williams. He’s tough, but kind & empathetic, and he’s unafraid to stand up for what he believes in. He’s not the guy who “doesn’t give a fuck,” he’s the guy who gives all the fucks. You catch each other’s eyes across a crowded movie theatre after a documentary about a depressing social issue has just let out. When you walk towards him, you realize he’s wearing a t-shirt that says #FreeEdwardAtes. (photo credit)

“I thought you only existed on the internet” you say to him.

He smiles and replies, “I thought you only existed on the internet.”

You spend lots of time listening to wrongful conviction podcasts together and admiring how he looks good in hats that aren’t fedoras.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Recently I texted my friend, “So, if a man is in his late 30’s and he’s still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, that’s a deal breaker, right?” She responded, “please tell me that’s a rhetorical question.” A few years ago I went on a couple of dates with a smart, very successful 30-something man who kept all of this non-perishable food in a small heap next to his bed (which was also just a mattress on the floor) so he’d never have to get up while watching Netflix to grab snacks. I know there are lots of men out there who have mastered the art of #adulting, but clearly there aren’t enough to go around. If you own a dresser that isn’t covered in stickers and you don’t use a upside down laundry basket as a nightstand, let’s talk.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Here’s a gentleman who is no stranger to having his hand all up inside some green felt. On Sunday mornings you like to create elaborate puppet shows that include lots of original songs and are heavy on  character development (“I mean, Barry the Sloth is basically a decent guy. He only drinks and bites people because he’s misunderstood – and that thing that happened when he was in the circus.”) 

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

It’s easy to find men who love dogs, but I’d like to meet someone who is crazy about felines just to see what he’d be like. I know he’s out there somewhere, happily whistling away as he meticulously cleans his couch cushions with a dust buster. Call me. 

When Your Life Becomes an Alanis Morissette Song

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(photo credit)

A few months ago, I was wandering around Value Village, late on a Tuesday night looking for records (as one does when you’re single and childless at 35.) I was digging through the crates of dusty LPs in hope that maybe, just, maybe I might find a copy of Prince’s Purple Rain. I had a copy with my childhood record collection but it’s since gone MIA – which has been distressing me to no end.

He saw me first.

He was digging through a crate a few feet away.

“I’ve looked through everything, so if there’s something you’re looking for I can probably tell you if it’s there” he said.

I told him about my Purple Rain record conundrum and we bonded over the fact that our town is basically sold out of all things Prince – except for commemorative magazines (one glance at my local newsstand and it’s clear that those are multiplying like gremlins.) This fed into a conversation about how it’s hard to find good soul music in Victoria. Our thrift shop adventures. Hip hop. Record shopping in LA. The best places to eat in Harlem. Music, music and more music.

I told him I’d gone to see the Miles Davis movie while was playing at the local repertory theatre.

“What was the crowd like?” he asked.

“What you’d expect. A theatre full of white haired senior citizens, one elderly black man and a hippie guy eating lentil stew out of a tupperware container.”

He then told me that he’d found an unopened copy of Guns and Roses’ Appetite for Destruction on vinyl for a $2 at a thrift store recently.

“I have so many questions for the previous owner of this record, starting with WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?” I replied.

That’s around the time that I noticed that he was kind of cute. White guy. Horn-rimmed glasses. Small nose stud. Denim vest. Black baseball cap. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate a 1980’s Beastie Boys vibe and I wasn’t hating it.

I was in awe. It’s so rare that I meet anyone in this town, let alone someone with common interests that I can immediately jump into a conversation with without it feeling weird. This guy seemed cool – or at the very least, extremely musically literate.

I’m sure my face looked like the emoji with the heart eyes.

He confessed, “it’s kind of embarrassing, but I like to collect new age CD’s. There’s so many of them here and some of them are really cool if you actually listen to them. Weird, but good.”

“Hey, no judgement” I replied. “If it makes you feel any better, I collect  ken dolls of 90’s celebrities. I have an MC Hammer doll that sits on my desk.”

“No way. I have that exact doll – STILL IN IT’S ORIGINAL PACKAGING!”

Clearly, this man was my soulmate. 

That’s when my phone buzzed and I saw that my Mom was looking for me in the store. (She’s my #1 thrift shopping sidekick.)

I floated over to the other side of the store, found my mom, and floated back towards the cash register where he was getting ready to pay for a stack of new age CDs.

“Enjoy your CDs!” I said.

“Thanks! Hey, you won’t believe what I found!”

I looked down to see a copy of a Little Sambo book (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read up on the history here.) On the cover was an illustration of a small white child, leading a small black child on what appeared to be a leash.

“OH DEAR LORD” I gasped.

At first I assumed he was going to turn the book in to the staff so they could take it off the shelves. That’s what I would have done. But, then he spoke.

“Isn’t it awesome?! I collect all of this shit. I have a whole room of black face stuff at home. I love it!” he said.

My face turned from heart eyes to whatever emoticon signifies “OH HELL NO.”

“Nice meeting you!” he said as he strolled out the door and into the night.

People always ask me what it’s like to be 35 and single.

I think Alanis Morissette said it best when she sang, “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, then meeting his collection of super racist artifacts.”

 

On Bromances, Breakups & The Stories That Bind Us

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When I start dating someone new I have to “come out” to them about a lot of stuff. For example, that I write about sex & relationships on the internet, that I live with my mother and that I have an anxiety disorder (I usually save the last one until I’ve had a chance to get to know them.) However, since bringing on Joe the Intern in 2013, if they’re OK with all of the above, then I have to add, “Oh and by the way…I also have an “employee”  who is a 12 inch tall half naked man.” You either get what Joe is about or you don’t. But, if you are going to date me, you need to know that me and Joe are a 2-for-1 package.

One of the things that initially impressed me about The Secret Agent was that he wholeheartedly embraced the presence of Joe the Intern, right from the beginning.

A few days after our very first date, The Secret Agent was scheduled to go on a business trip. He texted me from his destination and asked, “Is there anything that you or Joe need from the mainland?”

I told him I was good, but sent him this photo of Joe just for fun.

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He came back from his business trip with a box of jellybeans for Joe and I to share. This was the start of what would be an epic bromance between the Secret Agent and Joe.

Actions speak louder than words. By accepting Joe into his life, The Secret Agent made it clear that he also accepted my quirks – a sign that he was the right person to have in my life.

After that initial offering of jellybeans, The Secret Agent and Joe would exchange messages on the regular.

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And, like any Step-Boss trying to impress his lady, he spoiled both of us rotten. He made sure Joe & Hammer kept their fanciness on fleek with a pair of jaunty top hats. He also purchased Joe a tiny pair of vintage cowboy boots and generously donated to the Skinny Dip vehicle pool, much to the delight of the interns.

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To show his affection for Joe, The Secret Agent even went so far as to get this T-shirt made for our adventure at the Squamish Music Fest.

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However, it’s not about the material things that The Secret Agent brought into the relationship, but rather, the unending patience he showed for my unconventional hobby/intern. He travelled with Joe, helped me shop for props and never complained when I had to do multiple takes of the same photo just to get the perfect shot (doll photography is a lot harder than it looks!)

I know if you asked the The Secret Agent, he’d tell you that he doesn’t just tolerate Joe, he truly enjoys spending time with him and helping with the photos (& disposing of um, “personal items” in elaborate ways.)

While we were California, we used the bikes provided by our airbnb hosts and spent an afternoon riding around Venice beach & Santa Monica. When I looked up at The Secret Agent riding ahead of me on the boardwalk and saw Joe’s tiny head peeking out of the top of his cross body bag, I not only smiled – I felt grateful to have S.A in my life.

As I’ve explained before, The Secret Agent and I are alike in some ways, but also very different in others. Despite differences in lifestyle and ways of being, a shared affection for Joe was always a constant in our lives.

Whenever these differences became impossible to ignore or silence crept into our conversations, there was always Joe, standing by to break the tension.

The Secret Agent would ask me, “What do you think Joe’s up to right now?”

And I would reply with something like, “Shhhh, don’t break his concentration. He’s telepathically communicating with Hammer about all the margaritas they’re going to make tonight.”

That tiny 12 inches of muscled plastic was the glue that held us together, until it was no longer enough. 


I’ve always thought that the worst parts of breakups aren’t the actual moment of the split, but rather the weeks, days, hours leading up to it. When you stop holding hands in your sleep. When texts that used to be signed by “xoxox” are now signed with happy faces instead. When kisses on the lips are replaced with kisses on the nose. When you start feeling more like friends than lovers. You try and convince yourself that you’re just imagining these things; that you’re reading too much into it, despite the fact that evidence to the contrary is staring you right in the face.

These are the moments that suck the most.

This is all to say that The Secret Agent and I broke up about a month ago.

While it’s always sad when something ends, I don’t have any regrets when it comes to my relationship with The Secret Agent. Unlike my relationships in the past, which involved a lot of self-sabotage and trying to force square pegs into round holes, I’m proud of how I handled us being together. I committed, I was patient and I let the relationship evolve organically – we both did. We had a great few months together, but when those differences became too big to overcome, we parted ways as adults without any drama.

{Epilogue} I’m fine. The Secret Agent is fine. Joe is fine. The Secret Agent & Joe have decided to stay in touch and continue being “bros.” Joe is handling it all like a champ, with his signature brand of stoic silence.

(Top photo is via Steven Henke‘s series, “Barbie Does Palm Springs“)

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