The Peril of Public

I’m definitely part of the new digital era of media. I tweet, I tumble, I like, I post, I stumble, I blog, I share, and I promote. I’ve mastered the art of scheduling and I somehow manage to keep less than 20 emails in my Gmail inbox at all times. I have a full-calendar on and offline and for now, with at least some sanity, I keep it all rolling and going, and produce blogs that I feel are at least somewhat intriguing.

And as topics usually do on the social media wave of information overload, a study recently circulated that speculated those who are active on Twitter have shorter relationships. The study surveyed OkCupid users (a site I used to be a part of and some of my friends currently use), and claimed other findings, like Twitter-fanatics are more inclined to masturbate than those who don’t tweet. (Hmm?)

I’m not sure if I buy into these claims for studies are just that, a study of a concentrated group (those who online date, in this case), not every person on Twitter or every person who masturbates – which if you combined the two, just may be the vast majority of the population. But I will say the Internet has changed the bounds of a relationship and created what I’d like to call the peril of being public.

With so many easy ways to share information with those you know and don’t know – how do you resist the temptation to spew? Some things become sacred once you transition from dating to being exclusive and certain topics are no longer up for discussion with your friends, as you owe some sort of secrecy to your partner. Without keeping things private, a true intimacy can never develop.

But what if you’re say, a dating blogger? Someone who writes about love and relationships on a consistent, daily basis? What if your relationships, the love you find or lose, and the sex you enjoy and the sex you know could have been better – is what brings in the most readers? How do hold back when holding back would ruin the honey-like honesty of a blog you’ve worked so hard to develop and drive traffic to?

Well, just as smooth as the honey pours, its stickiness sticks.

I’m admittedly a little stuck in the peril of public myself, and though I’d never let someone else censor me – a true journalist doesn’t – I do know censoring myself is a battle I’ll have to fight. There are some things, some experiences, some identifying characteristics, and some truths about my life that don’t belong in the tangled World Wide Web. Because even if I delete this blog tomorrow – somehow, in some techie-savvy way, someone would be able to bring it back to life, and all of those words will be found and read again.

So what’s the happy balance? How do I decide what to reveal and what not to give? How do I consider my own integrity and the importance of protecting and respecting someone else’s honor, who unlike me, may not feel comfortable displaying their persona life to all who can subscribe, click a link on Twitter, or see my Facebook page?

It isn’t easy. I suppose I never expected my life to transition as it has or to be in a situation where ex-boyfriends or current possibilities would find themselves asked questions about a blog they don’t write. Or maybe, don’t even read. While I’m under no obligation to do or not do anything, I can understand their desire not to be caught up in something that while it somewhat involves them, is primarily about me.

But the peril of public isn’t just in this blog or on my social media accounts – it’s the fluidity and the ease of sharing information. Before such networks existed, I’d have to call up my friends, on a regular phone with a long, curly white cord, and talk to them. I couldn’t send a quick BBM, an email, a Facebook message, a private Tweet, a Gchat, or a text message to ask for advice. There are dozens of ways to reach most everyone we know, several ways to discover information about anyone we don’t, and continuous, reliable access to most anything we want to see, know, read, or do. And while I’m a supporter of these advancements, in a lot of ways, we’ve stopped making the relationship private. Not just online – but off, too.

Maybe my friends don’t need to know every little detail of my dating experience and I’m sure some of them could really care less, apart from the fact that most of my stories are quite entertaining. Maybe I don’t need to ask what I should do in each and every situation and realize that like I make decisions about every other aspect in my life, I am wise enough to lead my relationships in the way I decide, without clarification or recommendations from my friends. Maybe I do have many means of communication with people I know personally and many I’ve never met – but it doesn’t mean I have to use them. It doesn’t mean I have to teeter on a dangerous road between revealing too much and revealing too little.

What it means is that I can accept that my obligations are not to anyone but myself. And as easily as I can tweet, post, and blog – I can remain silent. I can log off. I can put my phone on vibrate. I can stop connecting online and start connecting in bed. I can get out of the web of the Internet and be wrapped in the warmth of someone’s arms.

And I can stop interjecting the world into my relationships and let my relationships relate to just me and a special he…privately.

The Big Idea

As an editor at a magazine for budding entrepreneurs who are working diligently to make their business successful, I spend a lot of time researching industries and companies on the rise. I find myself engrossed in stories of people who had the courage and the determination to make everything out of absolutely nothing.

Or perhaps not nothing, but rather – one hell of a big idea.

While we may not all have the guts to invest our own money or ensure someone else our idea is worth their risk, the minute we decide to place our feelings on the line – we all become entrepreneurs. Very niche owners of the matters of our hearts in the business of prospecting, attracting, and investing in love. And while we’d all like to think the return will inevitably be high, like all zany and unpredictable game changers that never quite make sense on paper (or far too much sense) – there is never a guarantee that what we put into a relationship will be just as much or possibly more than what we get back.

But more than being players who sometimes win big and lose largely when taking a chance on a suitor who may not be suitable – the definition of a relationship is based on an idea. It’s a perspective we each create for ourselves. It’s personal. It’s the accumulation of the experiences, the people, the triangles, and the jungles we’ve weeded through to end up where we are. How you see a relationship may not look the same through my eyes, and vice versa. What constitutes as love and what it feels like to be madly, happily entangled with another person may not feel the same to me as it does to you. All relationships may be different, but so are the people who find themselves attempting (or avoiding) entering them.

Yet, there’s a thing we all have in common – our willingness and our relentless spirit to defend that big idea. That big love. That something that I can’t put into words that makes us all desire and go after this romantically inclined bliss. That yearning to meet someone who just gets us, who we can lounge with as easily as we can lay with them. That sense of comfort that also translates into passion and shared interests and a path to pursue together.

And that idea we will defend with every ounce of energy we have. We’ll go to war on its behalf. We’ll vow to stand by it, no matter how hard it tries to knock us down or take away the wind that keeps us alive. We’ll go against any advice, any warning, any red flag, any anything that attempts to steer us away from what we perceive as that big love.

However, what we forget is that what we’re putting up arms and raising our guns for isn’t actually real. We may believe in it more than we believe in ourselves, we may ache for it in places that have always seemed broken, and we may convince ourselves that this person, this man, makes the dreams we had a pleasant reality.

Really, finding the big love is actually just putting a physical form to a big idea.

But getting caught up in the search for the big love to give life to a big idea keeps us in a constant state of projecting. Regardless if we mean to do it (I doubt we do) or not, when dating or mating or both – we will continuously wonder if this dude fits into the plan. If he acts in a way, comes across in a way, looks at us in a way, makes us feel in a way, is in a way – the answer to the big idea. The funding in our hearts that takes the thought and the visualization out of our heads and onto the streets. On his knees. At the altar.

And by seeing if he fits the bill or hits the mark, we stop concentrating on what’s more important than an idea and frankly, more important than love. We lose sight of the man. The consideration isn’t if he fits into a mold we’ve created or has the bank account we dreamed of or is precisely over 6’0″. The question is – do we care?

I once had drinks with an older woman who liked my blog and wanted to give me some advice. Being the inquisitive person I am, I agreed and she, of course, said something that stuck with me. Having been happily married to her husband for over 30 years, she told me that their relationship wasn’t her idea of love. It wasn’t what she was looking for or what she thought she’d find. It went against any rule she set out and this man, wasn’t the guy she pictured herself with in the long run. They had their complications and their issues, but they picked each other. And when she fell for him, when she “just knew’ – she stopped caring about her idea of love.

Because after all the work is put in, the blueprints are constructed, the desires are marketed and tested, the industry is made well-aware of availability, and investments and bets are placed – that’s when the business has to run. Or the relationship.

And nothing can become successful or be profitable in love, without having the ability to take a step back and realizing that what matters the most isn’t the idea. It’s our ability to accept that even the best of ideas, the most well-intended of plans, sometimes take us in a completely different way. Like a business plan that is meant to be an ever-evolving piece of literature that guides a company but doesn’t dictate it – to keep that big love around, we’ve gotta be able to change our minds.

And perhaps, let us come up with an even better and bigger idea.

Becoming a Luxurious Dater

A few days ago, I took myself shopping in celebration of some recent accomplishments. For the most part, I’m a penny-pincher, but every once in a while I will go out to a big, fabulous dinner or buy myself something elegant, expensive, and beautiful…just because I deserve it.

In today’s economy and especially in a competitive marketplace, there is this idea behind commodity vs. luxury. Consumers, like me and you, are questioning the value and the worth of what they purchase. Do I buy the super cheap coffee pot because I just need my morning java, even though I know it’ll break in a year? Or should I make an investment in something more pricy, so I have the piece of mind that it will last me longer?

While I don’t need to eat a meal that is overly-priced, but tastes so rich, fresh, and gratifying – giving myself the luxury of experiencing something out-of-the-norm and away from Guy & Guillard is a privilege for me. And that same goes for the $70 red sweater dress that hugged me just right.

But what price tag do I put on myself? How much worth do I show the world and especially in terms of relationships? Do I come across as a commodity girl-next-door that’s a dime-a-dozen, or a luxury lady that’s commendable of the best manners, the best dinners, and the best love? Am I treat or something you can find on every corner any day?

Do I settle for less than what I deserve because I’m accepting second-best or third-shelf instead of aiming for first place?

I’ll admit I haven’t always given myself the credit that I deserve and in times past, and I’ve played down who I am in an effort to satisfy, allure, and retain a man. But with this on-going journey and gradual climb in self-confidence – I think I’m due more than the average girl and my presence in a man’s life or on his arm…is a luxury.

And I know I deserve and now will demand, to should be treated as such.

If I’m always settling for Mr. Non-Committal or Mr. Good Enough or Mr. Yeah, Alright, He’s Okay – am I putting myself in the right areas and pointing myself in the correct direction to meet a man who will actually recognize all that I’m worth? And lowering my standards for the pure reason to not be alone is not only a silly idea but it is far from what I know I’m capable of having.

And this idea of being a luxurious dater or woman doesn’t translate into gold-digging. Frankly, I really don’t care what you do for a living (just needs to be legal of course) as long as you do it with passion. If you don’t make a ton of money, that’s fine by me, I have my own paycheck – but do something that brings you that independent fire. Something that gives you a reason for getting up in the morning and doesn’t involve me at all. If I determine myself as one-in-a-million, you should feel the same way about yourself -without me having to constantly remind you or toot-your-horn.

With love I give or love I share or love that I receive – I want it to be special. Out of the ordinary. Ridiculous even, if the time calls for it. Because unless it’s mad or extraordinary – what’s the point? It’s the relationships and the love we really put our investments in that make the long haul. If you’re not willing to invest yourself, invest in me, and invest in our relationship – I’m not so sure I want to take a risk with you to being with. My stakes are far too high.

By giving myself a high price-point that’s determined by all that I have to offer – I may not weed out all of the men who fall short or break my heart, but the quality of who I’m dating will hopefully rise. Remember, it must be about quality instead of quantity in the competitive landscape of dating. And in return, the investment I make in myself is different from the prices I’ve paid in the past because instead of making myself a commodity offer, who will go on a date with anyone, I’ve turned myself into a luxury dater who knows any old Joe, just won’t do.

In the meantime before I do happen to stumble upon a man who will realize my value or if I never meet him at all – I will continue to splurge and provide for the most important relationship I’ll ever have: the love for myself.

And the cost of that is immeasurable – regardless of any Harry Winston or exclusive dinner I could go to or receive. You can’t afford the value of falling in love with yourself as a single, happy, confident, luxurious woman. Because simply put – it’s priceless.

 

How To Measure the Return on Love

When I moved to New York, jobless, with my entire life packed into two suitcases – I never doubted my ability to break into publishing. Sure, I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk-in-the-park and my first job wouldn’t be my big break or my dream magazine –but something inside of me said: “Just go, it’ll all work out.”

Fast forward three weeks after my plane touched ground and I find myself jumping-up-and-down frantically while accepting my first Editorial Assistant position at a… business magazine.

My first day on the job, my wonderful editor, D (whom I admire so much!) assigned me a few articles and told me to get started. As I sat down and started to read the results from a survey I would be writing about – I realized: I have no idea what any of this means.

My background is in women’s interest which has included everything from women’s rights and fashion to sex and beauty. I never took one business class in college and truth-be-told, hardly read any business articles until I accepted this job.

When my first article came back, bleeding in red markups, my editor asked questions like: “How much was the investment?” and “Where did they focus their marketing efforts and how did they reel in the ideal customer in their industry?” and finally, “Well, what is their ROI?” ROI is one of the many ways to measure the success of a business.

Although it may make me look like a total idiot, I quickly Googled “ROI” and figured out it meant “Return on Investment” which is usually expressed in a percentage based on total costs balanced with revenues. Basically, it’s asking: I pumped all of this money into this idea or this business or this marketing strategy, and I got what in return?

But what about return in love? We invest so much of our thoughts, our time, our hearts, our minds, and our bodies into a relationship or almostrelationship, risking the possibility of being totally let down or heart broken, and what do we get in exchange?

How do you measure ROL (Return on Love)?

Though relationships should be pretty evenly balanced, unavoidably, there tends to be someone who gives more than they take. The same is true in platonic friendships, in the working environment, and when it’s all in the family. My role, both as the giver and the taker, has changed in every relationship I’ve been in – but if I’m honest with myself about what role I play most of the time –it’s the giver. While Mr. Faithful put way more into the relationship than I ever did, with Mr. Curls, Mr. Fire, Mr. Fling, Mr. Buddy, Mr. Rebound, and Mr. Idea – I was the one left upset or burned by the ending of the relationship.

So really, the older I’ve become, the more I’ve given – which has resulted in more hardship. Does this mean my ROL has been low? Have I placed much more of my heart and my time into relationships, than I’ve received in return?

I can’t say that choosing the role between the lender or the borrower can predict what someone’s return will be when they take the chance at falling in love. But what you can measure is how you handle yourself when it’s time to calculate the risk you took.

Sure we get disappointed and we feel that awful sting of resentment and of heartache when a relationship comes to a close that’s not on our terms. And yes, we reserve the right to mourn the loss of the end of a chapter, a dent in our hearts (and pride), and the sadness that comes with realizing what we thought would be, will not.

We’re meant to fall in love and fall out of it. We’re meant to be bruised and broken down at times – that is part of life, and that is human nature. Those personal sized Ben & Jerry’s cartons, Nicholas Sparks books and movies, and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” are successful for a reason. We all feel those rushes of ups and downs, highs and lows, and beliefs and denials – it’s how we process and how we cope.

But it’s after those days of exhaustion and of crying, of hating and of chasing “what-ifs” away – that we learn how much we truly learned. And if we can take some piece of clarity about what we want and how we’ve grown from the investment we put into a relationship, then I believe our ROL is quite high. If we can see the conclusion of a relationship as not the end-all-be-all, but instead the first day of the rest of our lives – then anything we’ve invested or planned for or put into love, goes straight back to us. In that way, we take back our control and our power, instead of giving it away to the person who left us broken.

Every person that has filtered through our hearts, lives, and legs has been there to show us something. I’m under the belief that fate has a magic hand in everything and when a relationship ends, it opens the door to something more incredible, more powerful, and more everlasting: the opportunity to redefine yourself. To fall in love with yourself again and remember who you are, outside of the icky relationship residue you’ve been swimming in. To pick up the pieces, collect your debts, count your losses, and figure out how you’re going to boost up the return in the next quarter. Just like you have to pump some sort of funds into a business to make it grow, to become a better-you, and more lovingly-profitable in a relationship, you have to go through several good and bad quarters before you find your traction.

Because single women (and men) are much like the entrepreneurs I write about – when they fail or hit a rough spot or lose their hope, they bounce back with a fierce diligence…that ultimately, that hope and passion – leads to their success.

Naked, Nosy, and Never Been Happier

I’ll admit I’m a jealous person.

Obviously, since I admitted to stalking Facebook profiles for wedding, engagement, and baby pictures, I have a little bit of envy in me. I can’t even being to estimate how many times in a day I desire something I don’t have –when I see a trendy couple walking, leaning on each other in the subway, a man kissing his pregnant wife’s forehead in the rain.

Most of the time, especially now, I’m able to deal with these resentful feelings –soothe myself, close my eyes, and say a little prayer for things I hope will come.

Imagine my delight yesterday when I found myself not jealous, not envious, not sickened, not insanely mad –but happy about being single.

Tonight my company is hosting the NYC Small Business Awards and because I’m a procrastinator (not usually, but lately), I waited until yesterday to buy my cocktail dress for it. With a lovely birthday card from my friend A, I set out to Forever 21 on my lunch hour yesterday to find something stunning. I figure, it’s a great excuse to buy a new dress considering I’ll be around 500 business owners –right?

I scour the three floors of wonder that is Forever 21 and with an armful of dresses and make my way to the fitting room. As I’m struggling to figure out what my size is because my new workout regimen has made me somewhere between a small and medium –I overhear a conversation.

Its two girls in the rooms next to me laughing, chit-chatting, and they seem to be catching each other up on their lives. At this point, I’m struggling to get a belted blue dress over my head that’s in two pieces and incredibly difficult to maneuver, and sighing because I’m a tad bit bloated, and PMS is breaking me out something fierce. As I’m starting to get frustrated, I hear one of the girls say, “Oh my God! I loooooveee this dress. Do you love this dress?” to which the other replies, “Oh girl, you look so sexy. Chris is totally going to love that. He’ll rip it off of you.”

I giggle to myself and think about my friends who would say that to me (practically all of them) and I take it that Chris is this gal’s boyfriend. She laughs and then her ringtone “California Girls” by Katy Perry goes off and she says, “Oh my God! He must have read our minds, he’s calling!” I’m still weeding through my outfits as she greets Chris with “Hey baby!” and continues with her conversation.

I stop listening for a while until I hear “Baby, I thought we talked about this…*sigh*….but I said this weekend that…well, I know….but we talked about this…Chris!…will you just let me talk?…you’re being ridiculous….I told you she was going to be in town.

Of course, because I’m being incredibly nosy, I stop trying on clothes, stand there in my panties and bra and over-the-knee boots and just listen.

Chris, she’s in town this week only. We can hang out this weekend, can’t we?…Why do you  need to see me?…I thought we had this conversation…No! I’m not breaking my plans…No, I’m not…what was that? Say that again….Really?…You’re doing that? For me?…Okay. Aw, Chris. Let me talk to her…yeah…I love you too…I know baby…yeah, I know baby…I’m sure she won’t mind…No she won’t mind…Yes, I’m sure…I love you too. Bye baby.”

Now, I’ve decided that she gave into his pleas to see him, even though, I’m guessing, her friend is visiting from out of town.

“Hey, do you mind if I see Chris a little bit tonight? I mean, I’ll just go over to his apartment and you can stay in my apartment and check your email or watch TV or whatever. He just really needs to see me. You know how he is –just needs me. It’s like that when you’re in love.

I couldn’t see her friend’s expression, but if it were me, I would have rolled my eyes, dropped my jaw, and called her out on giving-in even though I was visiting and was promised girl’s-only time.

“Yeah, I mean I guess that’s alright. But weren’t we going to go to the village tonight? I’ve never been there before, ya know,” her friend replied.

“God, I know. The village isn’t that great anyways. He’s just so persistent. You’ll understand one day when you meet The One.”

Now, I’m fully dressed and fully pissed at this girl for being so rude to her friend. It took every fiber in my being to not talk to the other friend and say, “It’s okay to be single! It’s empowering to be single! You’d rather be single than have a lame boyfriend who begs you to break plans with your friends because they ‘need’ you! How pathetic is that? You want to go get coffee with me in the village tonight and we’ll bitch?”

Not everyone who is in a relationship becomes obsessed with and powerless to their boyfriends. I’ve definitely been in relationships that have taken over my entire life and I know how easy it is to get wrapped up when you’re head over Jimmy Choos. I get it, I really do. But regardless –it’s never right to do that to a friend. Especially an out-of-town friend.

The best part of this story, though? I wasn’t jealous of her relationship and I wasn’t envious of any relationships the rest of the day. From the outside –on the train, streets, and cafes –all relationships look beautiful and loving. But when you get down to it –they are messy and uneven and sometimes involve pleading annoying men.

As I walked out of Forever 21, I thought: “Thank God I’m not in a relationship like that. If I was with a clingy guy I’d have to cut him lose. Already did that. Been there, done that. Wow, I’m so glad I’m single. I can do literally anything I want today, this week or this weekend. I think I’m going to buy some shoes. Or maybe that rain jacket…ohhh he was cute! Who is that? Maybe he’ll be at the Small Business Awards!”