She Can Get Some Satisfaction

It was snowing on Saturday when I left my apartment to catch the downtown train. I’ve been aching for a change and for the temperatures of Spring, so naturally my hair became a prime canvas. I’m not sure where this craving for transformation grew from — I’ve felt really settled and comfortable lately.

In fact, I haven’t desired much lately at all. With many amazing things spattered about my calendar in the months to come, I’m impressed with the life I’ve made and the days that I have to look forward to.

But that hunger. The fight. The work… To meet someone. Well, it’s gone.

Sure, I’m checking online dating profiles and if a guy wants to buy me a drink, I let him. I send flirty text messages and from time to time, I sext with Mr. Smith.  But nothing is really piquing my interest or encouraging the flight of butterflies and bumblebees. I haven’t felt their gentle and intoxicating stampede for nearly two years now.

And the thing is, I’m kind of satisfied.

Sure on nights like last night when the sleet beat against my air conditioning and the air was so cool I took two trains to get home, just to avoid being outside for an avenue longer than I needed. When I watch my beautiful best friends fall in love with men who have a promising twinkle in their eyes, I wonder when my turn will come. Sometimes I question if it will ever arrive at all — or if a girl with a heart as big as mine ca ever find another one to love in return. Sometimes, as my parents age and things don’t work as well as they once did, I feel guilty for leading a selfish existence instead of producing the grandchildren they keep telling me they look forward to spoiling.

I get down on myself, but I’ve been happier by myself than ever before. There’s something nice about solitude and those Saturdays I get to spend at the salon and the dog park, running in Central and treating myself to a $6 latte just because I want it. Or booking a trip to Mexico with my best friend because we want to celebrate being sufficient and young — and in need of some serious sun. And if I feel like going out on a Friday, the city is my playground with it’s men just pawns in a game that I’m good at playing, even if I’ve yet to win. But if I want to stay in, there is no harm, no guilt from a partner who wants to do something else, the only harm, really, is in my fear of missing out.

Lots of my friends who mastered being single a lot faster and earlier than I did used to tell me about these perks – of never having to consider another person in any decision. Or being able to date around to see what feels right, right now and what may feel right later on. They used to talk about how good it felt to be free and to have endless options, opportunities — from travel and finances to dining and sex.

I never understood it, though.

I wanted to factor in a man into the plan. I wanted him to figure out what we were cooking for dinner, what we were doing next weekend, what we wanted to do about that lightbulb in the kitchen that keeps going out or where we should take the dog to get her yearly vaccinations. I craved those discussions. I needed to meet him so I could go ahead and start thinking about the rest of my life.

But why wait for my life to begin when I’m already living it? Why linger to get satisfaction instead of doing things to satisfy myself?

When 2013 started, I had a feeling in my bones that it would bring about positive change and personal growth. I just knew that something big — something incredible — was in my cards this year, and the romantic in me convinced herself it had to do with love.

And maybe it still does. Or maybe not.

Sure, I might meet that man — who is as elusive and imaginary to me as he’s always been — but I think I’d rather meet a better version of myself. I’d rather become a woman I’m proud of. One who doesn’t need a man … and that’s why she meets him. Not because she’s doing all the right things and working hard to be available and open, but because she’s herself, leading a life she’s proud of.

 And most importantly, she can get some satisfaction… with or without him.

My Eye is the Beholder

My southern upbringing, every journalism class I ever took, and each article written about what to do on a first date or when attempting to pick up a dude, have all taught me an important lesson:

Always look someone in the eyes.

Seems simple enough and typically, I’ve followed this rule of thumb throughout my love and career life, and I have always utilized its full effect from across dimly-lit parties in midtown. Somehow when striking up a conversation or luring someone into your presence is easier when you not only come across as confident and secure, but when the other person feels like they can trust you. Maintaining eye contact is a non-verbal way of saying, “Hey you, I’m listening to you. I’m understanding what you’re saying. Keep looking at my baby blues and keep talking – you can feel comfortable around me.”

I’ve never been coy or shy and at times, I could probably use a little more reservation, but keeping a friend, a man’s, or a source’s attention hasn’t been a difficult task for me. Those who know me would credit this fact to my outgoing personality, the self-assurance I carry as easily and frequently as my purse, and to my fearless, relentless spirit. But perhaps there is a secret weapon that gives me an extra burst of boldness:

Makeup.

Now, before I start sounding like an infomercial promoting any beauty brand who offers me free loot -let me say I’ve had a love affair with makeup since I was a little girl. I remember my mom sitting at her antique vanity with one of those porcelain mirrors that had a handle, powdering her face, rubbing lotion on her hands, and spraying perfume in selective places. I used to lay across her bed after I finished getting dressed for school and just admire her morning routine. She was (and still is) the most beautiful lady I had ever seen, and I wondered when I’d finally be able to have my own set of blushes, eyeshadows, and have that imprint in my lipstick that defined the curve of my lips. Before my dad and her would go out for dates, she’d always let me dab a little of her signature smell from Oscar de la Renta on my wrist along with a little shimmer on my eyes – and I’d always feel like I was really, truly, a woman. Even if I was only ten.

Little did I know at the time that my mother was wearing more than sparkles and orchid-pink lip color, but she was putting on makeup to hide what she perceived as flaws. As a young girl, makeup never meant anything more than playtime and a symbol of being a grown-up who was allowed to wear such lovely things every day. Really, it wasn’t until middle school that I realized these toys were actually needed to cover up problem areas. Or as I’ve always not-so-lovingly called them: zits.

I’ve never had incredibly bad skin, but throughout high school, college, and even now – I have breakouts that I can’t quite predict or fully prevent. It wasn’t until recently, about a year ago, that I finally gave in and tried Proactiv. I’m not one to shamelessly promote anything because I know everyone’s skin, life, opinions, and tastes are different – but for me, this has been the only formulation that’s actually been a solution. I’ve tried antibiotics, topicals, dermatologists, everything you see on beauty and health shelves, and Proactiv has been the one to give me actual results. It dries out my skin something fierce, but I’d still pick a little tenderness over a face freckled with pimples.

Even so, before I tried this product and reaped of its rewards -I spent over a dozen years dealing with problematic skin. And thus, all of the times I popped and applied pressure that made my issue worse – left me with some scars. To anyone but me, these not-so-ghostly-shaded reminders of past problems aren’t that noticeable. However, being the admittedly somewhat-vain lady I am, I’ve tried everything I can find to mask them.

Why? Because when I’m not covering what I see as imperfections and I’m out in public, especially when talking with guys, I feel like instead of looking at me in the eyes, everyone is staring directly at the things I believe makes me look…ugly.

Recently, I had the opportunity to have champagne and cupcakes with Julianne Hough, best known from Dancing with the Stars at an event for Proactiv (see, I really am a huge fan). With her puppy Lexi in tow, she shed some advice not only about clearing up skin and her road to success, but she said something that stuck with me: when you don’t have to worry about something on your face, you turn your attention towards yourself. Or, basically, focusing on inner beauty becomes more important than outer beauty.

Sure is easier said than done when we’re all our worst critics. Right?

As I left from the event a tad tipsy and overly bubbly, I thought how every man I’ve dated has always told me that I shouldn’t wear as much makeup, that I was simply beautiful without all of the gunk. Most of the time, this sentiment has pissed me off and made me feel like they were trying to boss me around -but perhaps I was just missing what they’re saying. I mean, they had all seen me totally naked- emotionally, physically, and makeup-less, so they could have a point. Plus, they are dudes and when they have a zit or two, it isn’t as popular or socially acceptable for them to buy some Maybelline. Maybe its true that we all have flaws, that we all can’t be airbrushed before we leave for the day, that leaving our insecurities at the door isn’t always possible, but if we turn our attention inwards instead of caking on the confidence outwards – we’d eventually feel better about all of the things that make us, us. Even if that happens to be a few leftover marks from bumps months ago.

With that in mind, I decided to be a little brave and shy away from my drawer full of makeup. Well…not completely, but mostly. Instead of my regular ritual, I merely applied a dab of concealer under my eyes and around some redness, a swipe of mascara and chapstick and headed outside. At first, it was difficult to hold my head up walking past strangers on my block, but being the zealous lady I am, I decided that I had every right to be proud of who I am, even if my scars felt like they were on display for Manhattan. Pushing myself further, I went to the grocery store to return a movie and buy some goodies for the week, and underneath the floursencts that seem to place a spotlight on my face – I started making eye contact.

And you know what? Handsome men still flirted with me. Middle-aged guys still basically fell over themselves to open doors or help me. A woman even complimented me on my blue eyes. The glimpse of my reflection in the frozen food isle didn’t scare me.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but often times, my eye is primarily the chief beholder who determines how beautiful I am. And maybe, all this time when I thought makeup was making me pretty…it was really who I am and how I acted that gave me a glow. That radiance I have that others seem to notice, must not come from a bottle or from being a model, but from just being me. Pesky pimples and all.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.

The Look of Attraction

It is quite simple to catch a man’s attention. In fact, I’d like to think I have almost nailed it to a science.

My friends in college always picked me as the ringleader who would entice the group of eligible (or not) bachelors to our group so we’d get free drinks or mostly meaningful chit-chat to make us feel like we shaved our legs for something that night. Maybe it’s because I’m confident or brazen, but I’ve never been afraid of walking up to strangers. Honestly, as a journalist – it’s a big part of my job description. If you can’t ring a source or someone you’d like to interview, then what are you going to do, sit at your desk all day long?

Really – the act of gaining a man’s intrigue is an easy task that so many make incredibly difficult. Regardless of what you’re wearing, if you have a brand new zit on your chin, who you’re with, or where you are – it comes down to body language. Or, as I was taught: The Look. I can never reveal where I learned this trick, but I can almost guarantee it will get you and your ladies a round of drinks within twenty minutes, about 80 percent of the time. Sure, that’s a low B, but how many A+ men do we really meet anyways?

You do not have to be at the bar or a place where alcohol is served, but it usually ups your success rate a bit – I’m not a huge drinker myself, but a warm wine haze almost always make you feel sexy and a little bolder. Say you’re sitting at a table during happy hour with your gals and you see someone you’re attracted to. Leaving insecurities and caution in the wind where they belong, you lock eyes with this person and then cut your glance back towards your friends. Regardless if you’re engaged in the conversation or not, you smile, widen your eyes, and join in. Continue to do this for say, five minutes. And then, with a drink in your hand, you meet his eyes again, smile, and toast the air with your beverage of choice. Then you completely ignore him. That’s it. Done. In about five to ten minutes, you’ll be greeted with his friends, offered a round,  and then the flirting begins.

Now – for a long time, I used The Look everywhere. As much as I was addicted to love, I was also addicted to The Look. Amazed by how easily it worked, how simple it was to do, and how men reacted to it almost exactly how I hoped each time – I wanted to continuously put it to the test.

But when I woke up and decided putting all of my focus and attention on luring in a man was no longer how I wanted to live my life, I realized some things had to change. The first time I hit the bar since starting the journey, I found myself questioning why I was so impressed with The Look in the first place. Was it having the power? Was it being able to save money? Was it that a stranger’s eyes on me made me feel sexier than when they weren’t? Was there really anything wrong with doing The Look constantly?

No – nothing at all. That is, except for the twenty percent of the time when it didn’t work out as well as I anticipated. And when that happened, my opinion of myself exited the bar almost as quickly as I moved tables to escape from the guy who didn’t return my interest. Who didn’t feel the need to approach me or my ladies from across a darkened, crowded hot spot in midtown, even with my tightest jeans, highest heels, and attempting my most seductive glance.

Or maybe in a nutshell, when following the laws (and the look) of attraction, landed me far away from the mystery man I wanted to meet, and consumed in the self-defeating thoughts of “what’s wrong with me?

The Look  is usually successful because it plays with the basic fundamentals of attraction: first you see them, then you give them a hint of intrigue, ignore them to let them know you’re happy and fun (who wants to date someone who’s miserable, right?), and just when they think you’ve lost your taste for them, you give them a subtle hint, that no, you are still thirsty. Thus, they are encouraged to grow a pair and come see if they can pair up with you, for the hour, for the evening, or for maybe more.

But sometimes, as I’ve realized, there are other factors involved. Sure, no one likes to be turned down or rejected in any sense – where it be in love, their career, or at the bank. But for a long time, I took it personally when a man didn’t find himself drooling over me or hoping to fill up my cup. Now I see it as just another experience, another lesson, or really, just as some fun. Who knows what’s going on in the mind of someone – maybe he’s taken, maybe he’s just met someone with possibility, maybe his  heart is broken, maybe he’s gay, maybe he’s dealing with love addiction, or maybe I’m not his style of lady. Regardless, it doesn’t make me ugly, uninteresting, or no deserving of a good flirt at a trendy bar – it’s just how the levels of love and attraction work.

I’ve placed no rules on myself for this path to self-love, so I haven’t refrained from The Look, nor have my friends stopped begging me to do it when we all go out. The only difference is…I don’t take it as seriously. Or really, I don’t take myself as seriously. And somehow, when you stop placing pressure on yourself, on the success of your glance, or on the man himself – somehow, the odds of The Look working… go up.

Because instead of acting like you’re fully engaged and enjoying your friend’s company – you actually are. Instead of acting like you don’t care if the man comes or if he doesn’t, you actually don’t. And instead of toasting the air to entice him to come over, you’re saying cheers to yourself and to the laws of attraction, that somehow, never seem to lose their intrigue.

PS: Confessions of a Love Addict is considering a Q&A Sunday where Lindsay answers questions from your own stories about the journey of self-love (and the men along the way). If you’re interested, send her an email.