Falling in Love On Fridays: Tomorrow or Ten Years from Now

It’s no secret that I’m a little skeptical about online dating. Though I’ve technically been a participant in the love interwebs for years (off and on), I’ve yet to find what I consider someone I’m into enough to date long term. I know that statistics show that lots of people meet their significant others online (1 in 5!) but I just haven’t found much success and often feel like throwing in the towel. But my friend from college, J, makes me want to give it another try. She’s recently engaged to a man she met online and their story will make you get on Match for an hour tonight. No joke. Oh – and just try not to cry during the proposal video. If you want to write your own Falling in Love on Fridays post, click here.

Tomorrow or Ten Years from Now

After getting dumped by my boyfriend of two years, I had given up on love.  I would go out, flirt with guys at the bar, and then go home disappointed, realizing that there were no good men out there. I felt like a sad imitation of the gals from Sex and the City: Hopelessly romantic and also a little hopeless… After one of my nights with my girl friend Lillian (and way more than my half of the bottle of wine), I decided it would be cathartic to create an online dating profile. That way, my not-completely-sober self rationalized, I could highlight my best qualities, something I don’t often do in my self-critiques and realize how awesome I am.

I created a profile on a religious dating site, mainly because the guys my friends found on regular dating sites turned out to be absolutely horrific. Immediately, I was receiving messages and emoticons from guys, some of whom were too old, a little creepy, and just so, so wrong for me. It made me laugh a little, though, and I felt better about myself, realizing that at least somewhere out there, guys thought I was worth pursuing.

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I took a break from the site and retreated to the beaches of North Carolina under the pretense of house sitting for a friend. She was visiting her boyfriend over the 4th of July holiday, so I had 4 days by myself, with only her dog and my dog to keep me company. I laid out, got some sun, read, wrote, and just allowed myself to accept where I was in life.  Like most of my trips to the beach, the salt water washed away my worries. Here I was, surrounded by thousands of tourists, with no one sitting next to me. No one talking to me. I was alone among the masses, and I felt more at peace than I had in a long time. I finally accepted that it was okay to be alone, and that refocusing on improving myself was now a priority.

I drove home refreshed, realizing that for the first time in a long time, I was freed from my insecurities, from my unhappiness. I was me once more, made whole by the sand, sun, and surf. It had been a month since I had joined the dating site, and I thought to myself, “Give it one more go.” After all, I was back to myself, the type of girl who could look on something like a dating website as an opportunity and not necessarily a last resort.

I had a few messages from a few different guys, but none of them really caught my eye. So I did what any girl would do: Scroll through the guys in my area until I found a cute one and then stalk him. I wasn’t planning on messaging anyone, since I still just had the “free profile” that wouldn’t let me send messages, but it was fun to “browse” the available men. One page down, then another.It was interesting seeing the men in my demographic and how varied they were. And then, I saw him. Tall. Good looking. Not too old. Not already divorced. Professionally successful. To say I fell in love with a picture and profile is a stretch, but it was close.

guy

My newfound sense of purpose gave me the courage to bite the bullet and send my first message, something I equated to walking up to a guy at a bar. Really, was there any difference between me approaching a stranger at my local watering hole and sending a message through a social forum? No, I told myself, there wasn’t. Plus, if he immediately rejects you or doesn’t respond, you don’t have to slink away in front of his friends and a bunch of random strangers. I typed out my short message and hit “send” before I lost my resolve. Then it was time to sit back and wait…

A day later, as I was checking my email, a notification message from the site popped up. The mysterious “Brad” had responded to my message. Thrilled that my first foray into online dating had resulted in at least a consensual message, I clicked open my email and read his brief message which was punctuated with tons of questions. What did I do? How did I like NC? Where all have I traveled to? I eagerly replied, answering each question in depth, wanting to give him the fullest version of myself. I hit “send” again and felt a sense of hope. Hope in my newfound freedom. Hope in this conversation with a stranger. Hope in myself.

We officially had our first date at a minor league baseball game, way better than the coffee date that was originally planned. He changed it last minute due to my love for the sport. We laughed. We ate hot dogs. We danced and sang to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” We stood next to my car, and he pointed out the stars to me.  Then we went on a second date. Then we had lunch. And then… and then… The days turned into weeks. The weeks turned in to months. He met my friends. I met his. Then he met my family. And then I met his. We started speaking about the future, marriage, kids, family, all the things you plan for in your head when you’re with someone you love. And every time we talked about it, every time he got nervous thinking about the future, I’d tell him the same thing: “I’ll marry you tomorrow, and I’ll marry you 10 years from now.”

dancing

For the first time, I didn’t need a ring to define my relationship. I knew I had found the one, the guy who could make me laugh until I cried and who could cure my tears with laughter. So many people say, “I knew he was the one…” and I finally knew what they meant. It didn’t matter to me how long it would take. Our friends started asking about engagement, proposals, the possible future wedding. And as always, I’d tell him, “I’ll marry you tomorrow, and I’ll marry you 10 years from now.”

We celebrated Christmas. We celebrated New Years. We went dancing and cooked dinners for each other. Each and every day, I woke up feeling happy. He didn’t define me. He still doesn’t. I was finally in a place where I was comfortable with myself, and I found someone who loved me for me. All my faults and failures, he accepted. Through his loving me, showing me how someone else could view me, he allowed me to learn to love myself, and for this, I will be forever grateful to him.

proposal


People get cynical when it comes to online dating. I knew I was. For months after we started dating, people would ask, “So, how did you two meet?” and Brad and I would both exchange a look. I was the only one able to tell the story with a straight face because to both of us, it was still so ridiculous. We’re old-fashioned, and we met through the internet? But somehow, in this crazy mess of life, we found each other. In the end, the means of how we met don’t matter. Boy meets girl. Girl falls for guy. It’s a story as old as time.

A Toast to My Ladies

Much like when I moved to New York, when I went away to college – I didn’t really know anyone. Sure, I stayed in-state, so I knew of a handful of classmates who attended the same university, but no one who was in my core group of friends. I was probably more afraid of traveling two hours away from home than I was about moving 12 hours to the city.

As an overachiever, I landed myself on the Leadership & Service floor, where I was surrounded by others who went above-and-beyond in college (or those who just knew it was a nice dorm to stay in and somehow were accepted). The 40 or so of us called ourselves “L3” (for the residence hall name and floor number) and traveled in packs…everywhere. To the gym, to the parties, to the quad, and to the classes we all had together – and within those dozens, out of luck (and a bit of fate) – I met the two women who would define, shape, and share my college tenure.

A, was my first roommate. I’m an only child (technically I have a half-brother, but I don’t really know him), so going away for school was the first time I ever had to share my space. Fortunately, A was quite easy to live with, we shared the same sleeping/eating routines, and well – we became the very best of friends right from the get-go. My first memory of her is linking arms, skipping down the main strip in our college town, and giggling about how we were going to our first fraternity party. It wouldn’t be our last time frolicking about campus like we ruled the world–she’d go on to be an ambassador for our school, while I’d be high-up in the school newspaper and eventually, join a sorority, and attend more Greek parties than I’d like to admit.

Four rooms down from A and I, lived L – a girl who when I initially saw her, was instantly jealous. To this day, I still think she is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her skin is flawless, her body has always been in tip-top shape (even when she doesn’t try), and she knows how to dress. Truth be told, before meeting L – I didn’t even wear “real bras”, but rather, sports bras because I was rather uncomfortable with my bigger beauties. While they’ve shrunk since then (I lost the freshman 15 instead of gaining it), I’ve remained a loyal customer at Victoria’s Secret ever since, thanks to L. Together, we went through some of the most difficult periods anyone can experience: my father’s illness, the passing of her mother, countless boyfriends (and lovers), and maintaining a long-distance friendship when we’d both go other places.

These women, while vastly different, gave me most of what I needed in the three-and-a-half years I attended college. When they met me, I was overly indulged in my love-addiction-ness, and they both said: “Linds, why are you so worried about this? We’re so young; we have all the time in the world. Ya know, I don’t even know if I want to get married!” A and L are very independent, like me, and had such large dreams for themselves, such high ambitions for where’d they be and what they wanted to do that relationships were completely off of their mind. This was a far-fetched idea for someone like me, who lived, breathed, and obsessed about love.

At the time, I was dumbfounded that anyone could ever truly not have the desire to get married (I’ve since changed my mind), but what’s more ironic is that A and L had more boyfriends and longer relationships than I did in college. They didn’t freak out too badly about them, but if you count up my time flying solo and their time – mine is much higher.

And now, L is in the army and engaged (I’ll be the MOH!), and A is on a four-month all-around-the-world vacation with the man I’m convinced she’ll marry. As for me, I’m single. Scratch that – happily single.

Isn’t it funny how the tables turn?

When senior year rolled around and I couldn’t stop talking about moving to New York, breaking up with Mr. Idea, and starting my writing career – they were in love with their boyfriends and wondering when they’d finally get that ring. When A came to visit me for fashion week in September, we even spent a few hours on Diamond Way, where I took notes about what size, style, and cut she’d like. And when L was given one phone call during boot camp, we spent the majority of the time discussing whether or not the “feeling” that her boyfriend would propose over Christmas meant anything. Well, since he’s her fiancée now, her gut was psychic. (Isn’t it always?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for both of them and I actually like the guys they’ve picked as life partners – which if you know either of my friendships with these ladies, is quite the miracle. Us girls are pickier about the men our friends date, then we are about the ones we partner up with, right?

But with A and L being currently unreachable by text or phone call, I’ve realized how true it is that like life and love, friendships are in stages and cycles, too. Instead of being the one who is overly concerned with the man in her life, I’ve now become the bouncing board for my friends who are. Instead of crying and getting all sorts of upset about the Guy-of-Friday, I’m trying to help my friends get into the dating scene. And maybe even stranger, I’m growing closer and closer to other gals (the single ones), and further away from A and L.

Like any relationship that is meant to be – I’m sure when we actually get to spend some time together again, it will be like no time passed at all and our banter will flow the same, but there will be a major difference. And that’s me.

Sometimes I worry about the fact that this journey is literally changing me. The way I approach things, the way I respond, the way I think, and perhaps even the way I feel towards certain areas of my life, primarily love, continues to transform. I can’t help but wonder, what if those who have known me forever, start to wonder who the hell they’re talking to and don’t even recognize the Lindsay they once knew?

I’d like to think that even with my growth and maturity, I’m still the hopeful woman who believes there is a Mr. Right out there for me – it’s just now, he isn’t my primary concern. While I may not be able to relate to having the feeling of ‘just knowing’ or really crave it, I’m thrilled for those who have. And when L (and soon, A, I’m sure) transcends down to ‘I do’ with a man – I trust she knows ‘I am’ here for her, just as much as he is, if not more.

So, here’s to my ladies: to L and to A and my new friends (on and offline), regardless if you’re single or taken, married, widowed, or engaged, old or young, bitter or hopeful, addicted or uninterested in love – let’s stand by each other, hand and hand or click by click, through thick and thin, the princes and the frogs – and know that regardless of where this crazy journey takes us or where we end up, that we have one constant that never changes: the power of friendship. Let’s accept each other for where we are in our lives, where we’re going, and what we’re doing – even if we’ve never experienced or chosen it for ourselves. After all, we are each other’s soulmates more so than any man could be, anyways.

And with this toast, I hope L and A see that instead of sailing around the dance floor in a big white dress in front of a fleet of bachelorettes, I’d rather dance on tables during fleet week with some lonely sailors.

I hope they’ll understand. And something tells me…they will.

Dearly Beloved….I’m Afraid I Don’t

My best friend growing up was a black-haired little girl whom I adored. We went to the same church, we lived less than a mile from one another, and when I think of my youth- it is impossible to not see her face. Together, along with her younger sister, we created rock bands, played detectives, and even were so obsessed with the show Sister, Sister, that we would pretend to be the twins (I was Tia, she was Tamera, if you’re curious).

We took dance classes, joined Girl Scouts, went through confirmation, and played outside on her tire swing until her dad made us go inside for the night. She was the first person I ever talked to about boy crushes and her name is scattered among the pages of my very first “articles” and diaries. Our names are even painted underneath the deck at my childhood home, stating that we’d be friends forever.

At one point, I distinctively remember one of our conversations and we decided that by the time we were 21, we’d be finished with college and we’d be married, and have a baby by 25. I would be living in New York, of course, and she wasn’t quite sure where she’d be. We were so certain on this path that we wrote it down and we dreamed up these ideas of what we thought our husbands would look like, what they would do, and what their names would be. If I remember correctly, my man would be an architect, he’d be tall with dark hair and blue eyes, and he’d be named Brian.

I’ve yet to date a Brian, so perhaps that may still come true.

But as I sit here, past the age of my projected marriage, but not quite to the baby deadline– I realize how unprepared, how unready, how absoultely terrified I am of actually being married. I’ve never thought of myself as someone with commitment issues and I really don’t think I sincerely have them- but when I think of saying “Yes, Mr. Standing-in-Front-of-Me, on this alter on display to everyone I’ve ever known and complete strangers, I will spend the rest of my life with you. No matter what. I promise. Scout’s honor” – I feel like I’m going to be sick. And really, all I want to say is “Dearly Beloved….I’m afraid I don’t.”

However, that friend did end up getting married to a guy she loves, and is living in our hometown, moving up the ranks at her job, enjoying her new home and new puppy. We don’t talk very often, but I was happy to be part of her wedding before I moved and we stay in touch from time-to-time. I’m thrilled that she found someone who she knows is Mr. Right for her and she’s satisfied with her life, and sometimes, I wonder why I’m not ready for that.

This year alone, I’m invited to six weddings  and I hope to attend most of them, if not at least send something from the registry. And my very best friend from college, L, got engaged over Christmas and for the first time, I’ll serve as the coveted Maid of Honor. While I’m incredibly happy for all of my friends and admittedly stalk all of their photos – I sometimes can’t understand why there is such a rush to the alter. I mean, at 22, 23, and 24 – do we really even know ourselves yet? How can we marry someone else when we aren’t even sure of what is that we want for our lives in the first place? Or maybe I’m the late bloomer who missed the flight to marital cloud 9.

When I think of my weeks spent writing these blogs, going to work for the 9 to 6 grind, attending events and fancy parties, and happy hours with friends, I realize how selfish of a life I really have. Every dime I make is geared towards me (or secure in my savings account), every decision I make is based on what I want and what’s best for me, and my plans change as often as the subway schedules. I’d rather buy a new pair of shoes than to buy a gift for a man – even when Mr. Possibility and I were at our finest – and if I don’t feel like cleaning or washing or saving money from the week’s paycheck or working out, I don’t have anyone to answer to but myself.

And really, I love it.

I’ve spent all this time obsessing, worrying, wondering, hoping, praying, and dreaming for a man to walk into my life and be my end-all-be-all. For him to take away all of the negative baggage, the disappointments, and the trust issues I have from guys from the past. For him to “rescue” me from a single life that for the longest time, I absolutely abhorred. But now, for whatever reason, it is more appealing to me than the life I imagined as a 10-year-old playing make believe under my favorite Oak tree.

As a single woman (or really just any woman, relationship-oriented labels be damned) – I think we get so caught up in this portrayal of a wedding, of happily ever after, of the romantic illusions of until-the-end-of-time that we forget that marriage is serious stuff. It is a lifelong commitment. It is promising not only your body to one single person and your heart, but vowing that every decision you make from this point forward will be dependent on what another person thinks, feels, wants, and needs. While I’m hopeful that the man I ultimately marry will find me beautiful at 60-years-old, the reality is that when you decide upon forever walking down that aisle, everything, including the love, will get old. The flame will weather in the wind, it will come and it will go, and there will be moments where even though you love the person you’re married to – you may not like them very much.

And the same can really be said about the relationship you have with yourself. There are days where even though I’m working towards loving me-and-only-me, I feel bad about decisions I’ve made and I don’t like the person I see staring back at me in the mirror. Each and every choice I make, where it be to take the C train or the B train in the morning or what to eat for lunch or if I should be texting back a guy I’m intrigued by – affects my life. Maybe not in huge ways, but in ways nonetheless.

For me, at my age, at this point in my life, with my career just starting to blaze forward – I can say with full confidence that I’m not ready to be married. I’m not ready to have that feeling in my heart-of-hearts that tells me this is the guy for me. I may long for a compainion and I may be able to imagine having a exclusive boyfriend, but I know saying “I do” isn’t in my near future. I missed my projected marrying age, so now it’s up to me to decide what my second-chance age will be.  And that ring finger that I used to look at, picturing a rock on, looks awfully good naked and bare. While I’m sure my mother and currently-smitten friends will tell me “you’d change your mind if you met the right guy tomorrow” – I can say that right now – I truly, really, honestly, don’t want to be engaged.

And guess what? That’s really just fine by me. If that isn’t progress, I’m not sure what is.

PS: If you’re a fan of Confessions of a Love Addict and want to be part of a new page on the blog, email Lindsay or send her a Tweet.