Dear Tinder: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Dear Tinder,

We really need to talk.

We’ve been seeing each other for a couple of years now. In that time, we’ve grown pretty close: I find myself searching for you when I’m waiting in line at Starbucks or when I need a break from editing at my beloved job. I often think of you when I’m heading to the ladies room or when I feel that small, haggard, terrified voice in the back of my mind that’s politely screaming: where the hell is he?!! 

You made so many promises when we first met one another – when you encouraged me to talk about my interests and you gushed over my smiling, yet subtly sexy, poses. The one where I’m in a bikini in Mexico, the one where I’m on the merry-go-round in London. The classic, stereotypical one in front of the Eiffel Tower, and of course, the one of me trapezing by the pier, looking graceful as I sling myself toward the ground, dangling by a cable. Continue reading

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13 Types of Special Sex You Will Probably Have

I lost my virginity the way that most girls dream about: to my dedicated, kind high school boyfriend who adored me, with candles lit and Boys II Men playing softly in the background. Totally not kidding. My first ‘special sex’ was pretty stereotypical (and so sweet), but it took me nearly a decade to really understand just how “special” sex can get.

There’s nothing like that first time you orgasm and finally understand what the hype is all about, or when you get up the nerve to have a sexy vacation tryst (and no, you’ll never see that person again, but whoa, what a night). Or frankly, when you feel like a lingerie model because you’ve worked so hard to get fit, and you’re crazy-confident on top.

Special sex is special for a reason. And thus, here are a few types of rendezvouses that every woman should experience at least once in her lifetime……

1. The “We Just Said ‘I Love You’ and I’m Trying My Best Not to Cry” Sex

OMG, we’re totaling changing our Facebook status in the morning, but first … get naked, babe.

Continue reading

The Red Umbrella

It arrived in an unmarked package with no return label. The stamp on the front declared it was from a country not that far away, but one that isn’t on my list to visit anytime soon. If not for the reason that it seems terribly romantic, but because it’s where the man I was once in love with, currently lives.

I knew it was a gift from him— some token from his travels, some keepsake that would hold a double-edged sword full of meaning for me. A symbolic gesture to signify a special joke between us, a once sweet nickname that now is tawdry and pestering to forget. As I stood at my mailbox at work, feeling how light, and yet so very heavy, this package was, I considered two decisions: throw away this gift from Mr. Possibility or feed my intrigue and open this cryptic message that is as confusing as the intentions of the man who sent it.

As always, curiosity gets the best of this Tigar.

I took it to my desk and while my editor went to lunch, I tore open the envelope, preparing myself for tears and hoping an intern didn’t come upstairs with a burning question. I was careful not to rip anything because something in my gut felt it was delicate and precious. That is how Mr. P always described me — powerful and vivacious with an unquenchable spirit, but at my core, sweet and sensitive. Impressionable.

Inside the package, I pulled out a red folder with his school’s emblem on the front. The same school that I had edited his entrance essays while lying in just his t-shirt on his bed with the expensive down comforter that usually gave me more peace than his touch ever did. Fixing his comma use and vocabulary, we talked about me joining him on this overseas excursion, freelancing and exploring the world together. I could write this blog and pitch to magazines, while putting my dreams at bay so he could chase the elusive future that I doubt he has yet to figure out. That shiny folder, ripped at the crease and tattered at the ends, felt like what was left of our love, broken and shattered, but for whatever reason, hanging together by the single romantic thread of hope.

I ran my fingers across the page until I felt paper. There is was, the note. It would say something and nothing all at the same time, leaving me lingering on what he really meant to say. What he really wished he could feel.

Hey pretty Tigar. I saw this while in Prague and it reminded me so much of you. I hope you know I’m always thinking of you and missing our talks very much. I hope you’re doing well… you’re with me everywhere. Love, Mr. P.

I waited for my heart to speed up, for my throat to tighten and for that need to run as far away from the folder as possible. Usually, when faced with something emotional, I want to release myself from the pressure quickly. That way I don’t have time to think or to process, to obsess or figure things out. If I can get away from the problem, the problem ceases to exist. But this time, it was different.

His words felt emptier than they ever did, his feelings for me disappearing, just as his hold on me was weakening. I opened up the folder, turned over a black matted frame and found a hand-painted portrait of a couple standing near a bridge in Prague, kissing. You can’t see their embrace because of the red umbrella covering them from the gentle stroke of rain cascading down the paper.

It’s like the red umbrella that sits at the top of this blog.

And it’s similar to the red umbrella portrait that hangs in my room, shielding a couple caught in a kiss, standing next to a taxi cab. It’s a second-hand store beauty my mom found and had framed for me last Christmas. Mr. Possibility never saw it – he hasn’t been in my room in some time – but the two portraits matched each other, just in different locations.

Just in the two places where my heart lives – with a man who will never be what I want and in the city that makes me hope that one day, some man will be.

I received that gift from Mr. Possibility nearly eight months ago. For a while, I stashed it in the drawer next to my desk, forgetting about it until I went searching for a long-lost fork at lunchtime. When I needed to spring clean in March, I pulled it out and brought it home, careful not to look at it, and purposefully stuffed it in between big books to protect it. Every once in a while, I’d see the red corners of the folder sticking out and move my attention to something else. But I always knew it was there, haunting me, reminding me of this final gift that while it didn’t upset me wildly, affected me in a way that I didn’t like to admit.

But then over take-out and red wine with my friend J on a rainy Thursday night after work, I made a decision to come out from the umbrella. Knowing she’d protect me – along with my other supportive, honest best friends – from any storm that could come, I gave her that Prague portrait. I realized I didn’t need a romantic reminder of Mr. Possibility and I didn’t want one either. If I wanted to think of happier times, I could – those memories don’t disappear, no matter how much you try. I don’t want him back and I don’t need his dollar-short and months (and months)-too late expression of love to cloud my judgment.

So for now, until (or if) I decide to frame a reminder of my first New York love on my wall – that particular red umbrella will remain in the hands of a friend. Because really, the more I find myself standing underneath umbrellas, wondering when the rain will stop and the sun will come out, the more I find myself wanting to play in the downpour. The more I find the past trying to creep back into my life, the more excited I get for the future.

The more I’m reminded of the love I had, the more convinced I am that a better one is surely on it’s way.

I Let Myself Let Go

I let myself miss you today.

I rolled over mid-morning, groggily hoping you would be lying next to me. I kept my eyes tightly shut, and behind them I saw your mouth slightly open. I smelled your skin so close to me. I imagined the sunlight from the west cascading over your bare chest. I imagined the weight of your arm across my naked body. I ran my fingers in sweet circles around your face, until you wrapped your hand around mine and buried me in your grasp. You kissed the side of my head and wished me to sleep for just a little longer. Just for another hour.

I let myself miss you today.

I heard you call from the kitchen to wake me up. I felt the wind come through the open bedroom door. Happily smelling bacon and eggs, I wrapped the sheet around me and hobbled to see you standing in boxer briefs in front of the stove. You turned your head just enough to meet my grin, and you wished my morning well. Satisfied from the night spent with you, yet hungry for the energy I lost while love making, I sniffed my way toward you, kissing your back and letting you seep through me. You rushed me to the couch, where you brought me orange juice and a meal, and together we watched whatever we could find, ignoring the set as we talked over it. I sat Indian style, you sat so close our knees touched and for no reason at all, you kissed my makeup-free cheek and called me beautiful.

I let myself miss you today.

I split that pitcher of coconut mojiotos you love so much, watching you chew on the sugar cane as you talked about the political spectrum I’m really not that interested in, but I’m interested in making you happy. I let you have the last dumpling. You kept your hand permanently on my knee in that little booth in that little corner of that little bar in Little Italy. I watched the dimples cave around your mouth. You didn’t even catch your breath before you complimented my blues in the sunset, and you said those three words that I’m so insanely terrified I’ll never mean again with anyone else. I squeezed your hand – and then your crotch – and you smiled, feeling that closeness. I watched your mischievous side come out and I instantly couldn’t wait to play with it.

I let myself miss you today.

I asked if you preferred the green or the red peppers in your stir fry, and you stuck your tongue out at me in response. I scrunched my nose to protest and grabbed each, commenting that we’d have colorful food, and you’d like it. You put another vanilla yogurt with Crunch in the cart and I pushed it along, thinking about the dinners we’d cook, the nights we’d share. I imagined your hair graying and that gym-made body turn into a beer-full tummy. I wondered what we’d say about these days, the ones where New York was our playground and everything felt right because we were side-by-side. I considered if I’d always love you this much, if it was possible to love anyone more than I did on Aisle 2 of the Krasdale, watching you debate two boxes of rice. You turned my way and asked my opinion. I went with the brown to keep you healthy, and in return, you rubbed your cheeks against mine and said those damn words that I wish I could hear just one more time.

I let myself miss you today.

I ran from the uptown station to my apartment, feeling the chilly April rain bounce off my skin. I turned the key to the place I share with four others, and collapsed into the bed I used to share with you. I couldn’t pinpoint where they came from or why, six months later, they still come at all, but they fled anyway. I tasted their salty solutions as they rested on my lips and I covered my face in embarrassment. I knew I had washed them dozens of times before, but I buried myself in the sheets, somehow determined to smell you again, or at least to remember. I thought of all the parts of myself I can’t repair, the feelings I can’t replace, and the me that I can’t recreate without you.

You weren’t here today, but you were with me. In these dirty streets and in their dazzling illusions of perfection. In that skyline view that you first showed me as I stood up through your sunroof on the BQE. In those bittersweet pictures where our eyes matched, along with our heart and our hopes. In those fragrant flowers on the street, in those drinks that I need to be a little stronger these days. And especially on these rainy days, where I wake up and decide that today, I’ll let myself miss you. I’ll let myself remember when we were happy and so was this city, both in the shine and in the downpour. And then before the night comes around to bring me another dawn, I’ll let that furious faith dissolve.

And then I’ll decide that today, I’ll let myself… let go. Because while I can’t forget, and certain Sundays (or Tuesdays), I may go back to another time, there’s only one place for you and I, now. Maybe it’s on those streets, in those drinks, in those memories or in those days.

But it’s not in the new places I find without your guidance or company, not in the cocktails I toast with my friends, not in the life I’m creating for myself, and not in this day. Not in the day I decide to let you go. Even if I miss the you I thought you were.

The Crack in the Door

When Mr. Possibility left to go overseas the first time, he wanted to stay with me his last night in New York. At that point there had been no discussions of what we were, no title, no commitment, no anything – we were friends enjoying each other’s company and making no plans for anything more.

But I was falling for him.

It was the time when everything about him seemed refreshing, when our conversations were long and our nights were easily and sweetly passed sharing the tiny twin bed I used to have. It was when I had no expectations but still had hope of all of the things that could be. It was before I memorized every dimple, every line, each stare and every rhyme — it was before there was an “us”, before there was anything to be counted on. Or anything for him to be accountable for. It was before he explored other possibilities and before I realized his impossibilities vastly surpassed his opportunities.

The night before, we hopped from bar to bar, then ended up getting ice cream, even in near-freezing weather. I noticed the blush in his cheeks, the stubble on his chin and the easy laughter that made it so damn difficult to not admire him. He talked about his travels overseas and I listened intently, hanging onto his promises of flying me over to visit in a country that I barely knew anything about. Little did I know his invitation was already extended to another, but that would be a lesson I’d learn after hours on Skype and a bouquet of tulips sent to my home in North Carolina (with a few buds intended for my mother’s 50th birthday, mind you). Bastard.

Even though I wasn’t his girlfriend at the time, he asked to stay the night, promising to keep me warm and hold me as tightly as we fell asleep. I obliged, unable to dismiss his affections and terrified that this loving feeling growing inside of me would disappear just as he plane took flight. And so, I welcomed him into my miniature studio, on the right side of my tiny bed and into the smallest part of my heart, that eventually would spread to consume most of the organ that truly defines who I am.

When the clock struck 5 a.m. and the 6’2-200-pound handsome lug lifted himself off of me suddenly, I blinked my eyes to see my kitchen lamp on and that same lug pulling on socks and trousers. Too tired to greet him with much more than a sigh, I smiled in his general direction and closed my eyes again, hoping to meet sleep easily and ignore the sad good-bye that I knew was inevitable. In what seemed like hours, moments later he greeted my eyelids with dozens of soft kisses and cupped my face with hands big enough to swallow my cheeks as he whispered, “I’ll see you soon, Tigar. I’ll miss you so much. Come visit me.” I responded with a sweet nudge and let him walk away.

Less than a thought later, I opened my eyes only to notice a light shining into my room. In his hurry, Mr. Possibility had left my door cracked, allowing the hallway to look inside my apartment, along with all who passed my door. Groggily, I stumbled to secure the lock and curled back into bed, cursing the winter weather and an investment bank for taking a man I was falling for, far, far away.

When the New York sun found its way into the sky and made me greet a day I didn’t wish to meet, I peered out the bay window by my bed, wishing that warm body was still near me and dreaming up all the ways I could possibly see him overseas. What book is best about the Middle East? What would I wear? Would this mean we were something more? Would I become his girlfriend? Was I ready for that? I curled up into the quilt that came with the apartment, and after deciding I should wash it, I exhaled into it, missing his smell and missing the way his body moved in his sleep. Still buried in a blanket that wasn’t mine to begin with, I shifted my attention to my far-from-grand entrance and remembered the door he left open.

Perhaps it wasn’t intentionally symbolic, or intentional by any means — but in my memory of that moment, I took it as such. I believed it to mean there was a crack in the door, or at least a window ajar. There was an opportunity for something more that I couldn’t foresee. Maybe he was in a rush but maybe it meant so much more – it meant there was a chance for us. A chance for love.

I held onto to that crack in the door for as long as I could, and then a little longer than that. I held onto promises that were broken before they were made, beds that were ruined before they could be tucked in and dreams that died a slow, bitter death – as such unrealistic things often do. I believed in that crack in the door with more faith than I believed in Mr. Possibility – if I could always see how things could change, how the light could really be at the end of a twisted, dark tunnel, than I could make it work. Even after I had left the relationship in the past, I lingered on thoughts of what it could have been, what it should have been, what I wanted it to be — without seeing how the crack was swiftly disappearing into a void. Because I made up illusions that captivated me, I was determined to make them the beautiful reality I had imagined.

The last time I saw him – after giving into an invitation to visit his nieces, a chord he knew would strike me to my core — I watched him climb the stairs to catch his train, knowing it’d be a long time (if ever) I’d see him again. Startled by the idea that I wouldn’t see those dimples or hear his daily anecdotes, or be considered one of his friends or the one who got away,  I snapped out of my stubbornness and followed after him, damning the train that was arriving. As fast as my heels would take me, I reached the platform, only to see him disappear into the cart.

And just as I reached the doors, they closed. I knocked on the window, but he was already tuned into his Blackberry, not facing toward me, but far away, in a place I could never reach — even after a year of loving him with all that I had, despite who he was, and especially who he wasn’t. The train pulled away and the passenger inside watched me lust after him longingly, but Mr. Possibility never noticed.

I never told him, either. What’s there to say when the crack in the door…is sealed shut?

PS: I was amazed with how many Valentine’s were sent last year from all over the world. Your touching words, your kind sentiments and the way you expressed all the things you hope for, as well as all the things that make you so beautiful – were incredible. I hope you will take a moment to write a Valentine about all the things you love about yourself, all the things in the future you can’t wait to experience and what  self-love means to you. I’ll publish your words – along with a link to your blog, if you blog – on Valentine’s Day. Or if you’d rather be anonymous, that’s fine too.

Go here to submit your Valentine. You deserve it. Tell me how sweet it is to be loved by you.

Taking the Higher Road

After my first post break-up kiss with a near stranger, I scurried home close to 1 a.m. on Saturday night, prepared to sleep in super late to catch up on lost shut-eye. You can guess my blighted hope when I got up, finally, after an hour or so of tossing and turning, around 8 a.m. Tired of wrestling with my thoughts and sheets, I decided to be productive and clean everything in my apartment I could reach.

After scrubbing the bathroom nearly from top to bottom, vacuuming my room with a nifty sucker for hardwood floors (who knew?), I showered in a hurry, dressed in a rush and headed out the door to meet R and M for brunch at one of our favorite places. Deciding the subway was too cramped and the weather was too nice to pass up, I decided to walk nearly 30 blocks in my fall wedges. But even the bright blue sky and cotton-like fresh air couldn’t lift me high enough to rise above the anger boiling inside of me.

I’ve tried – I really have. I’ve made lists of things I have to be happy about, I’ve declared my newly adopted Zen attitude toward my life to anyone who will listen. I’ve refrained from contacting Mr. P, I’ve tried to take a higher road instead of saying what it is I really feel. But all these efforts have kept me from…well, saying what I feel. Or really experiencing the motions, the stages, the terrible aftermath of a love that turned into a not-so-beautiful disaster (sorry, Kelly).

I didn’t fool my friends though. After a few sangrias and some bra shopping at Vickie’s, R settled into my apartment to escape an unexpected downpour. Proudly playing some empowering music, R sweetly looked at me and asked: “Aren’t you sad though, Linds? Aren’t you disappointed? It’s okay to cry about it. You don’t have to be so strong. We’ll all understand.” Then today, after book club with A, M and K, M asked about how I was dealing on the train back home.

My face flushed and I quickly gave a short speech that after second thought, sounded rather rehearsed and scripted: “There are good days and bad days, times where I’m alright and times where I’m not. But I’m fine, really.” She turned her head sideways and questioned me (she’s good at that): “But I think you’re sad because you think you should be, and then you’re ‘Zen’ because you think should be. The only thing you should be is how you feel – whatever that is.” Again, I brushed off her words as carelessly as I did R’s and changed the subject to hiring interns.

The truth is I don’t know how I feel. R’s right, I’m disappointed and M’s right too, I try to be mature and collected, not let it affect me too much, but that isn’t always what I personally express in privacy. Part of it is my own pride – I don’t want to let a heartache get under my skin because I envision Mr. P as actually fine and coping easier than I am. I see him finally having the freedom he seemed to so badly desire while we were together, when he would eye other women, and that’s what I imagine him doing just so: picking up chicks for the sake of picking up women, without any regard to how his heart feels. That is, if his heart is suffering at all in comparison to mine.

But it’s not a competition. I shouldn’t compare breaking up notes – especially when I can’t see his, considering we aren’t speaking. Rationally, I realize my ridiculousness, and I think that’s partly my problem: I understand that eventually I’ll feel less disposable and more dignified. I know that I’ll validate my own self-worth instead of wondering when he’s going to send the “I’m so sorry” email or I’ll run into him the same way I ran into Mr. Fire and he told me I was the one who got away. I know I’ll be moved on and happy, settled into my life – single or taken – and Mr. P will finally realize what he had, when at some point, he had me.

Then again – maybe he won’t. Our ending wasn’t what I expected, and there is no guarantee of the days, the months, the years to come. Relationships don’t always end with a pat on the back, a wish of good-luck and fortune and then placed on the shelf, categorized alphabetically. Two people don’t always feel the same way about one another, some feel different levels of love than most, and some people, sadly, don’t love themselves enough to ever give someone else the love he/she deserves. It’s a sad and awful truth, but one that so many lie to themselves about to be comforted. There may be another Lindsay to step into Mr. P’s life and be that same saving grace I was for nearly a year – but he may never value the place I held in a way that I think pays tribute to what we had. I can’t match our perceptions of the relationship we shared, and I shouldn’t need him to apologize to validate what I felt. Or to make the relationship, the love, seem as real in his eyes as it did in mine.

But I feel like I do. I want him to want me even though I don’t want him, just to feel wanted. That’s about as honest as I can put it into words. I could break out into song singing “Cry” by Faith Hill – but I do refuse to go that backwards into my Southern roots. At least for the time being, anyway.

Maybe it gets more difficult to suffer the older we get, or maybe we just choose to suffer in privacy. Maybe we still have those emotional outbursts that are unfounded and out of control, but we scream into our pillows instead of into the phone. Maybe instead of sending hate e-mail to exes, we send it to our friends so it’s read, but safe in their inbox where it can’t come back to hurt us again. Maybe we still eat far more calories than we burn, but it’s done carefully by nibbling at a single cookie at book club or accepting an offer of M&M’s at work from a co-worker. Maybe we still feel all those painful and tiring stages of releasing someone who once felt vital in the intricate design of our existence – but we don’t share them because it feels too personal to display such grief. Maybe we still harbor resentment and bitterness, but we know better than to let it get the best of us if we ever want to rise above.

But maybe we don’t really rise above much in terms of love. Maybe instead, that’s just called growing up and moving on because we realize there are so many more important things in life than the end of a relationship that was never meant to be, anyway.

With Loving Eyes

I stood wearing my only pair of expensive heels, a silky scarf from Urban I snagged during a fabulous sale for $10, a lacy black dress belted at the waist and my Longchamp dangling from my wrist. The ring I picked for the day was actual ruby, the necklace a diamond from Mr. P back when we were happy, and I was hanging out by his side as he chatted with a chairman.

We were in the VIP section of an Oktoberfest, wearing fancy bracelets that gave us free beer and grub. We even had a slightly fancier port-a-potty than everyone else. Girls in skimpy German outfits (even in the chilly weather, God bless ’em – they’re practicing for Halloween) served us bite-sized German-themed appetizers and we were part of an interesting, powerful group – ambassadors, diplomats, prestigious journalists, a dude from Beard Wars, and I even met a song writer.

Mr. P was going on about something with his friend and I started to drift away in my thoughts. I was still slightly hungover from my birthday party the night before but beer seemed to make the headache nearly existent. From the fun times had last night, I had nearly lost my voice, so even if I wanted to be part of their conversation, I sounded like a frog. I let him do his thing while I did mine; still thinking and analyzing our relationship. Or really, our lack of anything that looks like a relationship. I mean, we didn’t even last my birthday without having some sort of a tiff. I know it’s about as unhealthy as the amount of carbs I consumed but resisting is always easier when it’s something we really don’t want, in terms of food and especially in terms of love.

His hand was wrapped around my belt and I became distracted by a family within sight. The father was handsome and tall with glasses, his 3-year-old son looked about the same. The mother was shorter and tanner, their daughter an adorable little blond. The kids were dressed up in traditional German clothes, suspenders and braids and all. They were running around and giggling, making funny noises and genuinely having a good time. There was no alcohol involved, they didn’t need it to loosen up because they were simply that happy.

As the children played together, the wife walked over and I caught a glimpse of the husband’s eyes when he looked at her. And what I saw was purely love.

I obviously do not know anything about who they are or what language they speak or if those feelings are true or not – but his eyes said a thousand words I could never write to give justice to. He showed the same admiration (rightfully so) to his children – scoping them up and tickling them, kissing the side of their rosy cheeks. It all seemed so intimate and innocent, natural and inviting.

Here I was, among the distinguished and more intrigued by the ordinary. By the gentle, calming and warm feeling that comes from seeing people who really love each other. If given the choice, I’d trade the fancy clothes and by-invitation-only invites to have simple clothes and an open invite into someone’s heart who actually wanted to love me in return.

I didn’t watch them very long, maybe a minute or two, and Mr. P grabbed my attention, looking me in the eyes as he kissed my forehead. I smiled cautiously and attempted not to show my disappointment. This was fun, it really was, but is it what I want? Can he give me what I want? Does he have the ability to feel about me how I want him to? Could I picture any of this with him?

Could those eyes that I’ve looked in, searching for a solution, for a sign, for an indication, for anything, ever give me what it is I really need? Could he ever look at me with those loving eyes?

Or is it time for me to look elsewhere?