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“And I thought I’d live forever / But now I’m not so sure
You try to tell me that I’m clever / But that won’t take me anyhow
Or anywhere, with you.”
– Lisa Loeb, “Stay,” 1994

In June of this year I turned 37. I was born in the summer of 1982 when Ronald Reagan was president and all phones had cords. I was a teenager in the 1990s, and therefore first on the scene in the a/s/l chatrooms of yore. I paved the way for more modern evolvements of internet interaction, such as this very comments section below. You’re welcome. But now I’m in a world of swipe-for-polyamory sex, skincare that’s trying to pickle me into preservation, and men in the wild who seem to look through me like I’m Devon Sawa’s animated character in Casper. All of it seems to scream: Am I am too old to be single? 

I should be partnered by now. For heaven’s sake, I don’t need external validation of that truth. I’m well aware of how much less tolerance I have for the niceties of the dating world than I used to. I don’t attribute that to saltiness from overexposure, I just think wisdom comes with age and this song and dance was always pretty disappointing. I should be writing humorous essays about how to retain one’s individuality while being married right now — you don’t think I know that? I’m not suited to the dating world anymore, because I finally smell the rat. 

I remember the first time I felt like I’d passed into the realm where lying about one’s age was a thing. I didn’t want to do it. I felt like it was going to make me tired. How long am I going to have to do math in my head? Who am I going to have to remember thinks I’m 31? What year was I born in? The rooster? I can’t, sorry. And that coy shit where you just never tell anyone how old you are? I get that, it’s literally nobody’s business, but in my line of work I like to give other women a point of reference and connection. Oh, she’s 37 and happily single? Maybe I can look into that… I own my age, is what I’m saying. 

What I want to make sure of is that my age never owns me. I want to make sure that I never see myself decreasing in “value” or “marketability” because I’m getting older. I always want to love the age I’m in, and see all the positives that come along with every phase of my life. I’m a woman with a soul and a personality and life experience, not a late-model Toyota rolling off the lot. I know the mindset I want, but retaining it is a trick or two.  

There have been some pretty painful moments, especially in my mid-30s, where age has been a factor in ways it never was before, ways that make me feel terrible, and above all, helpless. Seriously, what do you do when a guy finds out how old you are and you can see him physically recoil, suddenly directing his conversation into his beer in one-word response format? What do you do when you turn 30 and notice an instantaneous drop in matches through online dating? (True story: I turned 30 and suddenly my matches dried up like an open can of Play-Doh. As a test, I dropped my age back down to 29, and the matches came back. There’s a word for that: Bullshit.) 

I could spend far more internet real estate than my editor is willing to give me on the absolute farce that is men getting more desirable with age, while women are lifted up and turned around to locate their expiration dates. As though men are an entire gender of Paul Rudds who can just kick back and get sexier, while women have a window of about seven months where they’re fresh enough to partner with, and if you miss it, yikes, sorry honey — you’re just kind of done now. I mean sure, give us your money for expensive anti-aging treatments and creams and little rollers with spikes on them, but we’re still going to turn our noses up at you because you’re too old to be wanted. (Except for J.Lo. J.Lo doesn’t count.) 

It’s all unsettling, not just because I’d like to partner eventually and that’ll be hard if all men look at me like I’m about to curdle, but also because getting older never had negative connotations for me. It meant I got to drive, vote, and live alone. All sorts of wonderful things always came with age. So why at a certain age do I have to see getting older as bad? I still love getting older. Are you kidding me? I was a moron in my 20s! To think about how much smarter I am at 37 than 27, I’ll be working for NASA in a decade, you mark my words. 

I’m smarter, I’m more successful, I have an investment account, my culinary skills have really started taking off, what gives? Of course I know what gives. I’m a 37 year old woman living in a culture than champions female youth and shames female age.

But I still don’t like feeling as though this part of myself I can’t control is a pretty big factor against me in the dating world. I know that I can love my age, and be proud of where I am in life and what I’ve accomplished, but that never seems to take away the sting that comes along with realizing I’m being treated differently, or overlooked entirely, because I’m older than I used to be. What about getting older is so unlovable, I wonder? 

I’m smarter, I’m more successful, I have an investment account, my culinary skills have really started taking off, what gives? Of course I know what gives. I’m a 37 year old woman living in a culture than champions female youth and shames female age. I know. I have the internet. And if I seem to like myself more and more, year over year, while the single male population has the opposite response, I’ll make up in rebellion what I apparently lack in desirability. The dating world makes me feel like I’ve somehow committed a crime for having birthdays. And why would I hang out in a place that makes me feel bad? So moving forward, I’m just gonna not. 

There are so many ways I’ve become a happier person since I decided to no longer participate in dating apps, to just chuck responsibility for meeting my partner over to the universe, and to occupy myself with activities I actually enjoy instead. But I think my favorite way that life’s gotten better has to do with aging. I don’t feel late anymore, as if everyone else started their lives on time and I’m somehow dragging ass. Now I feel as though I’m right on time for my life, that I get to choose a timeline for myself, even if that timeline looks like a crazy straw. I’m doing what’s right for me, and ignoring all societal sneers at numbers on my hideous driver’s license. There’s a really easy way to know for sure that the way I live now, free from dating pressures and urgency, is the right way to live for me: I’m happy. 

When I’m not barely matching with men, trying to entertain the handful a year that actually want to talk to me like I’m a vaudevillian player, when I’m just living my life the way I want to without allowing my singleness to drive it, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. The less I’m involved in modern dating culture, the more “dateable” I feel. And I care more about how I feel than how I present to an ageist environment that ignores me more and more the older I get. 

Getting older is literally how life works. But my age has never and will never have any bearing on how worthy I am of love. It does however have bearing on how aware I am of that fact. I’m getting older by the day — but I’m getting smarter, too. And what I know now is that if I’m too old for the dating world, then the dating world simply needs to grow up. 

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Source: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/esd26-am-i-single-because-im-old?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss

So you spent the summer dating a litany of grad school students whose names start with the letter J. The bartender at the uncannily expensive dive bar on your corner has publicly acknowledged the fact that you seem to go on a lot of first dates. Your swiping arm is verging towards carpal tunnel territory, and you’re tired of blinking past photos of struggling actors in fedoras. You have dating app fatigue — consider this our official diagnosis. But rest assured, this is reversible. 

Cuffing season is nearly in full swing, and soon, the scent of romance will begin to replace that of late-summer body odor in the air. Your last several-hundred app dates have taught you a thing or two about ghosting politics. And buzz has been circulating around Facebook Dating, the OG social media platform’s latest feature designed to make your IRL love life a little bit better by way of the internet. Hope springs eternal! So what’s next?

In pursuit of an answer to that very question, we called in an expert — Sandi Kaufman, licensed clinical social worker and certified sex therapist — for a little advice on how we can actually build relationships in the midst of the Wild Wild West that is online dating — rather than continue to add names to our impressive rosters of J-name conquests. Below, consider her counsel on finding love via the internet.

Be Specific When Curating Your Profile

Here’s a thing Kaufman comes across in her own dating app usage with wild frequency: Photos of dudes holding enormous fish. For whatever reason, this is an image that countless single users have deemed both hot and approachable.

“I really cannot explain the men-with-fish phenomenon, but I see it all over my dating apps,” says Kaufman, laughing. “There might be just as many women with fish on other people’s apps! But I think there’s a valid learning lesson here about how we set up our profiles.”

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Kaufman explains that the internet famously gives us the freedom to curate the way we’d like to frame ourselves (case-in-point: Instagram). Our dating app default photos are the creme de la creme of our accumulated Facebook profile pictures, and our bios commit to showcasing some aspect of our personalities — sharp wit, terse sarcasm, unrelenting “chill” — that we find generally attractive. But while we build out these profiles — and assess those of our potential suitors — Kaufman suggests that we take the time to think through what is (and isn’t) real. 

“If you just pick someone you’re attracted to without judging the rest of the criteria, that’s all fine and good,” she says. “But if you actually want to meet someone you could have something serious with, make sure your photos and your bio are telling a real story about you and that you’re using that same criteria to look at other people’s profiles.”

She suggests uploading images that incorporate your most prized hobbies or your favorite venues. And as for bio copy, she recommends referencing some of your more specific qualities or preoccupations, rather than listing attributes in stuffy cover-letter formatting. In short, steer clear of “must love dogs,” and lean a little harder into your affection for eggplant parm and pop punk bands of the early 2000s.

However obvious it may seem, at the crux of the matter is common ground. Few things are quite so foundational in the early stages of a relationship than mutual interests. And without a profile that speaks some truth about your priorities, it’ll likely be pretty difficult to find someone who aligns.

Don’t Get Lost In Pre-Date Banter

There’s a bizarre phase, unique to online dating, between matching with a potential partner and actually enjoying a conversation in the flesh. Here, you make judgments about one another in two dimensions in order to determine whether or not you’ll enjoy one another in three dimensions. This can be tough to navigate. 

“There’s no right way to do this,” Kaufman says. “But it’s important that you find a way that feels comfortable for you. For me, I like to make a phone call. I think it’s the best way to vet someone. Younger generations tend to think that sounds like hell on earth.”

If the audio thing isn’t for you, she suggests putting a limit on how much you’re speaking to another person, so as to avoid putting too much pressure on your IRL meeting. It’s best to save some portion of the getting-to-know-you back and forth for your first real-world encounter. 

Beyond that, she notes that plenty of us, while using The Apps, are involved in any number of conversations at once. “Some of my clients will be talking to anywhere from three to 30 people at the same time,” she continues. “I think it can take some of the joy out of seeking out a partner if you have that much going on.” For her, five is the magic number. It lets you keep a few eggs in a few baskets without overwhelming you to the point of full-on yolk taste aversion. “You’re busy!” she says. “Spend your downtime on friends and hobbies, not the dating version of busy work!” Dating should still bring us some pleasure of the romantic variety, and treating flirtatious encounters like Excel spreadsheet entries is probably not the most joyful angle of approach. 

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Of course, Kaufman is well aware that social anxiety can be thoroughly prohibitive when it comes to dating — and that there’s something far safer about wading your way into a relationship by way of text message when the in-person encounter causes you stress. “I had a patient who spent a long time — almost three weeks — texting constantly with someone from an app,” Kaufman says. “Eventually she became terrified to actually meet up with him for fear of shattering something that felt so good over text message. I had to remind her that the texting wasn’t real. It was a fantasy land until she knew if the chemistry existed in real life.”

So yeah, the banter is important. Take it at your own pace, follow rules that put you at ease, but try to remember that you are talking to real people. If real-life chemistry is your endgame, don’t lose sight of that. 

Treat The First Date Like A Job Interview

Alright, we’ve made some progress here. Now, this is no longer a computer game — this is a date date. There will likely be food or drinks or a cultural activity involved. 

“The advice I give for app dates isn’t really different than the advice I’d give to clients who are nervous about any other kind of date,” says Kaufman. “And usually, for those with some sort of social anxiety, my trick is just breathing.”

She explains that staying focused and present is often the secret when it comes to making connections — and something as simple as reminding yourself of your breath can make all the difference when your brain is off on a hamster wheel tangent, deterring you from making casual conversation with the person opposite you. 

“For clients who are especially nervous about app dates,” Kaufman continues, “I remind them that they don’t actually need to think of this like a date. It’s really more of a job interview. This is the predate — it’s when you’re vetting a person to see if you’d actually like to see them again in a romantic capacity.”

She says that normally, in an app-free world, you’d date someone who you’d already vetted — and approved — as a potential partner. So this first meeting is just that: a first meeting. It need not be made into a grand, intimidating thing. It’s just the preamble to an actual date. And if you think of it that way, some small measure of the pressure is lifted. 

“That also helps with expectations,” she explains. “Because you’ve been talking to someone online, you build up this big idea of who they’ll be in person. Sometimes it can be really disappointing if they’re not as you imagined them.” Treating date #1 as a security pre-check guards you against the gap between your expectations and the reality that is a fish-brandishing bro.  

There Are No Hard & Fast Rules For Following Up

“We’re always complicating this part of things,” Kaufman says. “If we think of the first date as a job interview, then whatever comes next doesn’t have to be full throttle, it’s just the next round.”

As she sees it, there’s no official decorum — no three-day texting rule or gender-specific mandate. If you enjoyed a date, you need not follow up and say, “FYI I want a winter wedding and do you have a family history of chronic illness?” Instead, you can start with the truth: “Thanks, I had a nice time.” 

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Further, it should come as no surprise that Kaufman is not a fan of ghosting. “In the simplest of terms, it’s rude and hurtful,” she says. And having worked with plenty of clients who have found themselves “ghosted,” she’s thinks that perhaps, to survive in the app dating economy, we ought to arm ourselves against this sort of thing. If we find ourselves ghosted early on in a virtual relationship, she thinks it’s important that we learn ways of merely letting go (breathe, man!). Further along, when the act is more egregious, Kaufman suggests reaching out and (politely) requesting closure. This is very much your right — and it will certainly feel better than allowing yourself to sit and stew while you wait for contact.

“People ‘ghost’ for any number of different reasons,” Kaufman says, “but for the most part, it comes from a pretty classic fear of confronting emotion. Unfortunately, that’s one of the hard lessons you learn through dating. And I think we’d all be better served if we learned it, told the truth, and moved on to the next thing.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?


Source: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/app-dating-tips-tricks?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss

8502030.jpg?width=853&height=1024&fit=boMandatory Credit: Photo by imageSPACE/Shutterstock (10404687g) Ansel Elgort ‘The Goldfinch’ Photocall, Toronto International Film Festival, Canada – 08 Sep 2019

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is complicated. And, Ansel Elgort, is adamant that love can exist without sex. The Goldfinch star got real about this idea in a recent interview with The Sunday Times. Elgort, 25, dove into the dubious topic as he discussed his goals for the next five years. 

“I’d like to have done a few plays and performed my music,” he said. “I’d also like to find a lot more love.” And Elgort, who’s been dating his girlfriend Violetta Komyshan since they were in high school, noted that that doesn’t mean he’s looking to have sex outside his relationship. Love is more nuanced than that, in his opinion. “It doesn’t need to be sexual. I could be done sexually with my girlfriend,” he told The Sunday Times. “I think we’ve been pretty clear that I want to feel free to fall in love with people and that [option] should be open, but sexually it can be closed off.”

He clarified that he’s “in love with a bunch of my male friends who I’m not interested in having sex with, so why can’t I put the desire to have sex with women aside and let myself have love with women?”

Some Twitter users joked that Elgort seemed to be hitting on something akin to friendship, quipping: “We’re going to help you learn about friendship, bro.”

ansel elgort on god we’re going to help you learn about friendship bro pic.twitter.com/ixGtu4KTDN

— sophie grace (@monseans) September 30, 2019

For the record, love can mean a lot of different things to different people. Previously, Refinery29 featured 37 definitions of love from strangers around the world. Their answers ranged from “#Loveis a sense of belonging” to “#Loveis mutual. For it to work, you need to give 100%, and be sacrificial and joyful.” 

For his part, Elgort says he loves Shailene Woodley, his co star in Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. “We never had anything sexual and that was great,” he said. “There will probably be some sort of chemical thing at some point that you can’t help, but you just have to be disciplined… We’re primitive beings.”

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Source: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/10/8501831/ansel-elgort-open-relationship-love-without-sex?utm_source=feed&utm_medium=rss

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