Date a Man Who Asks Your Opinion

Date a man who asks your opinion.

One who wants it, who feverishly hangs onto it, prompting you for more, testing your level of commitment. Date a man who loves to hear you talk — about the news, or the traffic on the 1 train or about that girl from your high school who did this crazy thing that OMG, you need to analyze on Gchat. Now. Pick a guy who reads into things or at least, reads. One who challenges the world around him and at times, pushes you to think differently, to release notions and motions you’ve done for so long, you no longer remember why you do them or why they matter or if you like them. Date a man who likes the way you think, instead of wondering if your step, your clothes, your hands and your feet are in sync with one another. Get to know one who can declutter your brain, not one that can unhook your bra with one hand.

Date a man who is a little weird.

And one who thrives on your differences. Those tiny, minuscule things that make you, you. Like how you stick out your tongue when you’re writing or how you ask questions to your dog and answer them in a funny voice or how you fold every magazine you touch in half to absorb the words, not the graphs or the photos. Date a man who might makes a room more interesting instead of more fun, one that holds a conversation instead of igniting one, a man who uses his brain instead of his lines. Don’t be afraid to get to know a guy who yes, is a little nerdy. Yes, a tad strange. He’s the guy that’ll show you more things and give you better dreams than the ones you had before because he’ll demand more. More respect, more intellect. Less game, more play. Be with the guy who you’re surprised you like, but happily so. Easily so.

Date a man that kisses the hell out of you.

On the first date or the second, when it’s slobbery and awkward, intense and emotional. Or none of those things, but still, he kisses you anyway. Because he really, really wants to, and you really, really like the way he tastes. Date a guy who tries his hardest, not just for you, but for him, and especially for the both of you. One that doesn’t needs your permission but wants your advice, one that doesn’t need to say good night, but like the way you say “sweet dreams” in return. Date a man who savors your sweetness but stimulates your boldness. One that treasures the silence and laughs when the quiet continues too long. Date a man who you can do nothing and everything with and feel content because his company is yours.

Date a man who brings you peace.

One that calls when he says because he wants to. And one you don’t have to pretend to like to get through a few drinks or a few months because you’re afraid of being by yourself. Because you’re afraid you’re too picky or not forgiving enough, or you’re more scared your friends think you are, though they disguise it with clever affirmations. Be with a man who has you mostly figured out, and loves the mysteries that come in the long term, because things always change. Bodies, addresses, jobs, likes, hates, hours, governments, neighborhoods, rents and minutes and love. And life. Be with a guy who can make you laugh, even if he’s not all that funny or insanely clever, as long as he brings some simplicity to your spiraling thoughts, your unproven, distracting fears. Wait for the guy that makes it all a little easier, not because the relationship is without fault but because you forgive one another when it comes.

Date a man who likes himself.

Even if he’s comes across arrogant at first, give it a date for his shield to come down. As many walls as you’ve built, brick-by-brick, bad-date-by-worse-one, he’s built them too, and they need time to shatter. Date a guy who knows he’s good, that is proud of his life and all of the things and people in it. One that doesn’t mind being by himself, who actually enjoys his independence, who knows he’s secure and yes, happy. Be with a guy who has a lot of friends, who doesn’t resent his parents or at least has forgiven them if he needs to, who has grown enough to see people as people, not as heroes. Be with a guy who greets the deli manager and thanks the waitress, who tolerates screaming children enough to want one, one day.

Date a man that you’d be friends with.

If you didn’t want to sleep with him so damn badly, that is. Pick a mate that you’d pick for your most vulnerable friend, and also your most dynamic one, because usually, they’re one in the same. Date a guy whose words you like, with a heart that gives you all it’s might. Pick a man not because he’s Mr. Right or because he came in the pre-packaged set that you always wanted, that you always imagined. Date him because he’s different, because he made the difference, because you’re different – in stupid, ridiculously beautiful ways – because you met him. Because he made you melt, made you softer, made you relax. Be with a guy you’d be happy your future son turned into or your daughter-to-be would date. Pick him because he’s better, not because he’s perfect, not because it’s fated by the stars and the illusions of the universe, but because you want to. Because every last bone in your body says you need to.

Or don’t date him.

Date the other guys instead. The ones who are just-enough (but not really). The ones who leave you lingering because they can, because they will, no matter if it’s you or the next girl or the next that follows. The ones who see promises as options, who aren’t driven by anything inside themselves, except perhaps, their own ego, but mostly, their fear. The ones who make you come, but never arrive when you actually, emotionally, need some support. Or, the ones who maybe are good guys, but just not good enough for you, not enough to get you going, not enough to keep you hungry. The ones who for whatever reason, you can’t pinpoint or decipher, aren’t your match, but you’d rather be matched than be alone. Or one that just doesn’t care much about what you have to say, what you like to do or where you hope you’re going, he’s just along for the ride.

Or are you just along for it?

You can date whoever you like, lady. But me? I’m waiting for the guy who asks for my opinion over soup on the Upper West Side on a chilly fall afternoon, grinning away as he listens. And loving whatever I have to say.

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The Five Year Scam

As part of our final grade my senior year in high school, my English teacher had us write a five-and ten-year plan for how we envisioned our future life. Already quite deep into my love affair for this sparkling city, my cinco-de viva plan (or however you say that in Spanish?) — for 22 — went something like this:

Living in a luxury apartment in the heart of midtown, hustling and bustling with the best of ’em. Working as an editor at a big magazine, going to fancy parties and wearing fancy things, but writing about important topics — other than accessories and blow jobs. Dating a handsome man who would fall magically in love with me and propose at the top of the Empire State building.

What my life actually looked like at 22:

Living in a rundown brownstone that consistently reeked of reefer, sharing a communal bathroom with strangers. In, um, Harlem (but told my parents it was the Upper West Side so they could sleep at night). Working at a small trade business magazine, writing about tax benefits, sales, marketing and entrepreneurial success stories. My paycheck didn’t afford fancy things and my title didn’t offer fancy parties, but I did master the fine art of making Ramen delicacies. I started this blog a day past the big 2-2, and started my tumultuous relationship with Mr Unavailable/Possibility a month later.

Funny how things don’t really go according to plan, right?

As I (gulp) approach my 10 year out of that Southern high school and my (gulp) five year out of college, I find myself thinking about how I once pictured my life and how it really is, and maybe more interesting, how much of what I thought I wanted at this age, I don’t anymore.

I can blame it a little on conforming to the ways of the city that never sleeps, of how it tricks you into seeing endless options for as far as you see skyscrapers radiating in the distance. The city makes you believe in anything you set out to do, anyone you hope to find and any chance you dare to take. It doesn’t swallow you up for giving something a shot, instead it encourages you to take another leap, have another date, spend a little more money, buy that plane ticket, try something new again.

And so I have been.

I’ve been busy learning and soaking up just about as much as I can from my job. I’m coming up with excuses and finding opportunities to travel. I’m signing up for races I’m not convinced I should run, but fully dedicated to trying. I’m dating when it feels right and stopping when it doesn’t. I’m coming and going, quickly and slowly, just as I want, just as the mood strikes, just how it should have always been.

Because five year plans never turn out in the sweet little ways you think they will. Your illusions of how things are supposed to work out are just that, illusions. They are beautiful pictures crafted with the best-intentioned hand, but ripe with ideas of what life looks like, not what it actually feels like. Not what it actually means to live.

Because living doesn’t include plans and it doesn’t go on a pre-determined schedule or a course or events. It doesn’t follow rules and it refuses to make them. It doesn’t fit into a box of certain size or fit itself underneath a sweetly tied bow.

Instead, it surprises you.

Your five and ten year plan seem silly in comparison to your actual existence. What you dreamt for yourself still rhymes in the some sort of way, but those plans feels more like a scam. If everything worked out just as we hoped, just as we mapped it out, we would miss all the fun. All the good stuff. All the anger, the disappointment, the fear, the love, the passion, the struggle, the conquering, the battle, the success, the failure, the romance, the roughness. The shine after it all.

You’d miss the best parts of your 20-something years.

Especially the part where you look back on your life and those choices you made, out of spite, out of intrigue, and you find yourself smiling at the experience. Thankful you didn’t always pick the easiest road, but the one that seemed the best, and maybe the hardest, at the time. You would miss the part where something hits you — probably in the middle of an ordinary day — and you realize that blueprint doesn’t fit you anymore.

And that no plan really does at all. Maybe it never did to begin with.

Because finally, after fighting the should-be’s and the could-be’s and the supposed-to’s and all the pressuring words that did nothing but haunt you, you have found yourself released from the language. You’ve found yourself free from the scam — I mean, the plan — and happily ever after without a clue of what’s next.

And you know — or at the very least, you hope — it’s going to work out in a way that no pencil, no high school paper, no fortune teller, no anyone or anything could have ever predicted.