How Sweet It Is

After my company put on an event giving entrepreneurs opportunities to grow global, J and I headed to a wine store two blocks over to find some international Merlot-inspired strategies of our own.

As we listened to the sommelier, in his terribly cliché French accent, black-rimmed glasses, and v-neck cardigan explain to us the history of vineyards in lands we’ve never heard of, J and I shared a knowing smile that though we may never be well-versed in the language of vino, we can at the very least, pretend. Once we decided on a 2006 edition of something “surprisingly infused with cherry and lime in an exquisite fashion“, we stood waiting at gift wrap. Easily distracted by decorations, a smile curved its way across J’s chiseled chin and he said, “Give your sweetie a treatie!” and nodded toward a leftover Valentine’s Day sign.

Still dressed in my pencil skirt and white-billowing blouse, I tousled my hair seductively and sarcastically and asked, “What treat will you be buying me then, J?” Unable to hide the half-British, half-New York accent he pulls off so well, he quickly responded, “You’re not my sweetie, darling.”

Without missing a beat, I rose to my tiptoes (even in my four-inch Carlos), and beamed: “I’m not anyone’s sweetie!” Confused, J raised an eyebrow at me, shook his head probably thinking “silly American” and looked back to his iPhone. As he fervently put the touch-screen to the test, I glanced back at the sign and stole away a smile, just for me. And I remembered.

In college, when I felt stranded by the mountains that encircled the campus and the snow would fall taller than the top of my highest boots -I would lay on my couch, afghan carelessly laying across me and just stare out the window. I would imagine the two arms I wanted – I needed – so badly to keep me warm. To make me feel like I wasn’t alone. To wrap their body so tightly around me that I would never doubt that love, no matter how difficult or seemingly unattainable, was possible for someone like me. Someone who had yet to feel successful in any relationship or love she’d found thus far.

That longing, that thirst – carried its way to New York when I first moved – especially since my mother’s prophecy that I’d meet the man I’d marry the second I took my first step at JFK. While my career aspirations had gone as planned, the romantic component of my city fairytale didn’t resemble Cinderella in any way. Well, except maybe for the shoes.

For the longest time, regardless of where I was, who I was or was not with, or what was changing or remaining stagnant in my life – I hungered for a man. For a magical person who would take away that sting, that fear, that something that brought me so much trouble, so much physically emotional emptiness. For someone to be more than something – but everything to me. If they could take away any insecurity about my future – romantically inclined and all else – then I need not worry about it. If I had them, didn’t I have everything I would ever need?

But now, instead of looking for a sweetie to give me treatie – I’d rather have a sweetie who is my treatie. Not the my full source of healthiness or my daily dose that keeps me going or the main ingredient of my internal caloric intake – but just a special something I treat myself to. The icing on the cake, but not the concoction it took to make the dough rise. One of the sweeter parts of my afternoon, but not the thing that’ll make or break my day, my diet, or my spirit.

Isn’t that how a relationship should be, anyways? Isn’t that why we all see love as this incredibly desirable and often indescribable feeling (or choice, depending on what you believe) that brings this added glow, sweetness to our lives? Wouldn’t that passion, that certain comfort, that something incredibly beautiful, be best as something we look forward to? Instead of something that we’ve gotta have to survive?

Doesn’t a treat taste the best when we save it for something special? Or should I say someone special? And while that added spice or sugary-goodness that may or may not be good for us will be an added pleasure in our life – we have to also know the sweetest love of all is the one we’ve already found by mixing the right ingredients together to make us the irresistible women we are.

All of this time, all of those countless cold nights I spent wrapped up in an idea of what a leading man would be. All of those tears wasted on those who never deserved my attention in the first place. All of the worries about a love I was terrified I’d never find. All of those strolls through the city that never lets me down and all of the pages of any and every diary I’ve ever owned, going on-and-on about this singular thing, singular stranger, who would take away that appetite for what I thought was the miracle nourishment to make my every ache and pain a distant memory. All of this time wishing I was someone’s honey, someone’s escape as much as they were mine. All of this time I have been forgetting the simplest thing of all that never fails to hit the right spot at the right time. Even in the middle of an overpriced wine store in Chelsea:

How sweet it is to be loved…by me.

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For the Luck of a Cupcake

Once upon New York last night, I went to an Irish pub in midtown.

Somehow, some of the best places to go in the city are unknown establishments who entertain great prices and even better company. The only way to find such hidden locations is to stumble upon them, unexpectedly and without scouting the best, the trendiest, or the hippest places listed on New York magazine’s picks of the week. For my friend Cat and I, who simply wanted a glass to celebrate the fact it was almost Friday, a tucked away bar on 54th and 7th, seemed to do the trick.

After attending an event where champagne, celebrities, and mini-burgers were plenty, we braved the winter and ice with cupcakes-to-go in tow. Never ones to shy away from foreign affairs, when we noticed shamrocks and happy hour specials, we gleefully agreed to grab a glass (or two) at this unknown pot-of-possible-gold that would free us from the unbearable cold.

Luckily, we found seats to give our high-heeled legs a rest and to even more of a surprise, an authentic Irish man with pretty blue eyes and a crooked smile, greeted us merrily. Me being the undeinable flirt and confident lady I am, requested a Merlot and Cat decided upon her signature drink, a ginger ale and vodka. Partly because it was his duty and mostly because he found my panty-hosed limbs sexy, this could-be leprechaun watched me as I sipped my vino while he paced the bar, waiting on an opportunity to integrate me.

That chance came when he so cleverly asked, “If you give me what’s in that box, the drinks are free.” Not one to submit to plays-on-words or pickup lines, I let him know the cupcakes in my “box” were mine, and I’d be damned if he had one of my precious baked goods. After all, I did decorate them myself.

He looked disappointed, but still took the round on himself.

Still not cured from some of my love addict qualities, I decided a sly 20-question game wouldn’t be too ridiculous. Perhaps, I’d be super smooth about the whole see-if-you-meet-my-non-negotiables test and he wouldn’t even notice my journalist attributes. Even amidst my random questions while he was serving the other patrons, he always made a point to stop by and see how we were doing. And of course, to give the rhyme to my latest riddle. Once we were half-way finished with our first drinks of the evening, the Irish man decided to start asking questions for himself.

In a cupcake and Merlot haze, I somehow managed to tell him I was not only an editor and a writer, but a blogger about the three words every man seems to be intrigued by: love, dating, and sex. Or possibly, just the latter.

Suddenly, this man was full of perplexities himself – what do you write about? Do you call guys out for being bad in bed? Do you talk about your own experiences or just the general experience of being a single person? Have you ever had sex with a man who wasn’t American? Would you?

Maybe it was his rather cute dimples, the insanely sexy accent or the fact he has a tongue piercing (oh where the mind will go…) – but I replied with class to each question, never lying, never exaggerating, but only answering with as much dignity as I could. Once he seemed satisfied with my words and I gave him the URL to the site, I asked him what brought him to New York, my favorite destination on the planet.

With a michevous grin, he simply said, “Well, my wife.

Flabbergasted and attempting not to show it, my friend and I swallowed our sip, turned to one another, and strategically raised an eyebrow. I smiled and said, “How lovely. Now, what does she do?” He told us she was in fashion but didn’t get specific, and thus, I became suspicious. He couldn’t sincerely be married – he was far to charming, far to susceptible to blushing when he looked my way, and too, well, available to be…. unavailable. After all, I do know what a Mr. Unavailable looks like – maybe a little too well. Not to mention – he wasn’t wearing a ring and his fellow co-workers were smirking while toasting.

Determined to get to the root of the lie I was convinced he was telling, I questioned: “Well, I’m in magazines and pretty familiar with the fashion industry. Who does she work for? What does she do?” As his Irish cheeks started to match my red coat, he stuttered, “She, uh, designs clothes. Ya know? She cuts them out.” Instantly catching on to his trick, Cat and I grinned towards each other and waited for the moment where this man, in his many mysterious ways, admitted he wasn’t in fact married, but as single as a New York late 20-something male gets.

Impressed with my ability to call him out on a game I’m sure he’s played many times, he filled up my wine glass (much to the dismay of my perfectly-planned-out self’s ways) and asked if I loved my city and if I was satisfied with my life. Becoming more and more tipsy and less and less inhibited, I started not only giving him The Look, but accepting the red, red, wine he was pouring, and the more personal questions he was proposing.

I wasn’t assured he was exactly my type – or at least the sort of man I usually agreed to date. From what I could tell from his location behind the bar, he wasn’t very tall, but taller than me. He obviously didn’t have an typical career, but was living by the hours of drinking and partying as a bartender (this was later soldified, when I asked him what else he did and he responded with, “This.”). And of course, I’ve never actually been serious with an European or anyone from another country, though I’ve always been romanced by the idea of courting one.

With this Irishman, nothing was certain and without knowing much about him – anything seemed plausible. Due to his charms, his careful way of never letting my drink be less than half-empty, his clever wit, and piercing blue eyes – I decided he’d be Mr. Maybe. He could be my type, or not. His accent could make my panties drop, or not. Our shared admiration for baked goods could be a flirting component, or not.

Nevertheless – I realized that for once in my life, I was okay with the uncertain. With the potential, with the things I couldn’t predict, with the pressure I refused to place on myself, dating itself,  a stranger, or with the relationship I’m finally not desperately wanting. I’m okay without having a “yes” or a “no” – and dwelling in the maybe seems like an opportunity I’ve often passed up. The gray may be hazy, but sometimes the things you can’t see or define are the very things you end up needing the most.

And so, when Mr. Maybe asked how a man could make it into the inevitable life and blog of Ms. Tigar (or Mr, depending on which post you read), I gave him a hint of the sincere smile that’s somewhere rooted inside of me and said, “Take her out for a cupcake, since she doesn’t give away ones she gets for free?” Obviously interested in the prospect of icing and baked flour, Mr. Maybe let me know his day off was on Wednesdays. I returned by offering I got off work at 6 p.m., and gave him my card. Just in case, you know.

Once I paid my tab that didn’t even come close to reflecting what I consumed, locked eyes again with Mr. Maybe, and cheek-kissed my friend good-bye, I walked to the subway with a little extra step. I’m not sure if it means I’m at a new step or I’ve unfolded a new chapter in my journey but something about a simple evening with careless flirting rejuvenated my spirit. Perhaps it was the sight of a new possibility or just the pleasure of being a lady who knows what she wants (and how to get it). Could be the joy that comes from prancing through the city, even in negative degrees, and loving it just the same. Or even the warmness a great glass of wine gives you – especially when it didn’t come out of your tiny paycheck.

Or it could be the easy and simple feeling of knowing that your life is no longer dependent on finding all of the answers. Of defining the exact right path, the next move that’s planned and mapped out. But rather, it’s finally not about existing and waiting for the next love, the next chance or the next opportunity, but more about living and taking all the comes (or doesn’t) with acceptance and stride.

Or perhaps, being thankful for the luck a cupcake can sometimes bring you…or the Irish bartender that you hope actually does put your number or email to good use. And who takes you out for something frosted and delicious? Maybe, just maybe.

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 Non-Negotiables

I make incredible demands on myself.

Some may call me a perfectionist, others may coin the term “over-achiever”, and I can’t even begin to count the amount of times someone has told me they envy my bravery. But to me, none of these titles really fit who I am because I’ve never thought twice about pushing myself to the extreme or shooting for my dreams – no matter how unattainable they may seem. To me, the most terrifying risk is not giving the things that matter the most, my everything. I’d rather fail a thousand times than to never try once. My expectations are undeniably high for what I hope to achieve and where I want to go in life.

And the same level of elevated standards applies in my relationships, too.

In the past, as I would go on and on to my friends about a date gone awry, a relationship that fizzled quicker than it boiled, and how for whatever reason, it was impossible for me to find someone who wanted to stay on the same page as me – most of them, either out of frustration, wisdom, or from what they thought was the right thing to say, advised: “Well maybe you shouldn’t expect so much.”

Is going into a dating situation or even the start of an official relationship without any expectations the best solution? They say if we don’t really anticipate much, we’ll be happy and pleasantly surprised with anything we get…right?

Well, I don’t know about you – but I can’t seem to wrap my head around this idea. If we don’t have standards, if we don’t insist upon certain qualities or things that are absolutely non-negotiable, wouldn’t we only attract men who are completely wrong for us? Or even worse, end up with someone who isn’t right for us, but could be perfect for someone else? Or vice versa? Wouldn’t we miss out on someone who we don’t feel the need to change?

I believe there is this thin line between having unrealistic images and hopes for what a relationship or person will be, and demanding what you will and will not settle for. That regardless of how wonderful someone looks on paper or in person, if they don’t meet what we know we need to be fulfilled and happy, then entertaining a love affair is wasteful of our energy, heart, and time. Sure, men are people too, but so are we – and we have personal standards that we shouldn’t (and probably can’t) shake.

So yes, I have expectations, and no, I’m not willing to lower them just to be deemed someone’s girlfriend, have someone give me a Valentine’s Day card, or find my match that I’ve always been told I can’t live without. (Though, I’m pretty positive I can).

My ten non-negotiables are actually quite simple, in my opinion, anyways:

Ya gotta be employed

And legally, for the record. You could be a millionaire or make what I make, as long as you have a job and you’re not sleeping on your mother’s couch or in your childhood bedroom. If I’m going to be an adult, I want to date one, too.

Ya gotta be taller than me

I’ve only dated guys over six-foot, but I’m not opposed to seeing if a 5’10 man would fit my fancy. The only thing is I love high heels and always will; so if I can’t wear my highest ones and be at least a little shorter than you, I’m not interested. May be superficial, but absolutely true.

Ya gotta be self-sufficient

As in, it is not my responsibility to transform you. That’s up to you, bud. I don’t want to fix you, I don’t want to mend your every worry, your every self-defeating prophecy, or your every case of blue balls. I also don’t want to control every conversation or lead you through discussions – you should have opinions and charisma inside of you already, that are not because of me. Life is full of bumps and I’ll sit in the passenger seat, but you’re in the driver’s.

Ya gotta want to have sex (and it has to work)

Think all men are sex-crazed maniacs? They really aren’t, and I’ve dealt with the ones who never want to do the deed, who can’t seem to make it rise to the occasion, and who just don’t have a clue what they’re doing. At our age, we should know better. And if we don’t, we should make an effort to learn.

Ya gotta be honest

Being charming and funny are also recommended, but above all other things – you have to be genuine. A big part of my job is searching and revealing the truth, so I value it. Even if it hurts me, even if it isn’t pretty, even if it changes my mind about you – just tell me. I’d rather know than to be fooled or oblivious. And you should remember the one person you should never get on the bad side of…is a journalist.

Ya gotta have your own world

I’m not one of those ladies who wants to be the center of her man’s universe. Sure, I like to be doted on, admired, and reminded that I’m beautiful (who doesn’t?) – but I’m also very independent. Even when I’m married, I’m going to need some nights with the girls and nights just by myself. You gotta have buddies and interests and hobbies that have nothing to do with me, please.

Ya gotta have energy

I’m a fast walker, a fast talker, and always a gal on the go. While I enjoy a lazy  Sunday afternoon and will gladly sit through sports with you (as long as you’ll return the favor by going to a show), I mostly want to be doing something. And whoever I’m with, should challenge me mentally along the way. So if you’re going to date me, you’re going to have to keep up with me – this may mean you’ll need to have Red Bull within reach.

Ya gotta let yourself go

I don’t think I’m God’s gift to men – and I know you’re not God’s gift to women. But, we could be sent from the heavens to meet one another. So please, don’t take yourself too seriously. You don’t have to be the best dancer and you don’t have to sing on key – but if you can’t have fun in our living room or at a concert – I’m not going to crave having fun in other parts of the house.

Ya gotta be open-minded

Yes, I want you to have your own opinions, but I also hope you are tolerant of those things you don’t believe in, don’t like, and of those who are different from you. Brownie points if you’re addicted to community service and volunteering as much as I am.

Ya gotta like NYC, the kiddies, and the puppies

Sure – I’m not at the point where I’m ready for children, but I can’t be with someone who doesn’t want them…ever. Also, I can’t rationalize picking a mate who hates the city I adore. As for the puppies – who doesn’t love them? I mean really?

Maybe I’m being too stubborn and overly ruthless – though those qualities have served me well in my career – but when it comes to finding love, I choose to believe that I’m worthy of the best. And when or if I meet Mr. Right, he’ll know that he has someone who is more than precious – but irreplaceable, because I hold myself, him, and our love to great expectations.

And that will never be open to negotiation.

PS: I’m curious to what your non-negotiable list. Comment below or email me and I’ll tweet them!

Beauty, Blessings & Bird Poop

This weekend, I was in a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood.

When I left the office on Friday, I went out for a drink with a man, who was so incredibly boring he doesn’t even deserve a Mr. title on this blog. As he selfishly discussed himself and his only question to anything I told him was “Oh, well, will I be on the blog? I could be Mr. Dreamy,” -I thought of the many ways I could have a dramatic exit, shouting out words that for the time being, I’m censoring.

After letting him know I was busy, for, oh I don’t know, forever – I caught the train uptown, listened to angry-rock band music, and avoided eye contact with any other straphangers. By the time I made it to the grocery store, picked up a miniature pint of ice cream and two rom coms, I was beyond frustrated and annoyed – I was flat out sad.

Cuddled up in my bed, watching a flick I already know the plot and ending to, I wondered what was wrong with me. Here I was, on a Friday night after a so-called “date” – protecting myself from the cold and perhaps, from the stress that can sometimes come with going out for the night. I looked outside, across the way into the windows of buildings beside me, and decided I needed to make a genuine effort to be hopeful and put-together the next day, as spending one night of the weekend in bed was acceptable, but not two.

Needless to say, I didn’t put forth too much of a fight and even cancelled plans on my friend J – further making me feel miserable for being unreliable. But for whatever reason, the only thing in the entire world, in this big beautiful city, I had a desire to do was to curl myself up in bed again, far away from anyone and anything.

Realizing I was home and alone on a night I should be mingling, flirting, or at least giggling with my friends – I took out a fancy bottle of wine I received as a gift from my publisher’s wife, and decided to uncork it. I had intended on saving it for a celebration when the next monumental change happened in my life, but where there’s a thirst for Merlot, the only medicine to hit the spot is Merlot.

By glass number three, I had almost forgotten I was doing a 12-step program. I started examining myself in the mirror, pulling and tugging on what I thought was ugly, sucking it in, trying on jeans I already knew didn’t fit, and sighing, when low-and-behold, they didn’t zip up. I attempted to clean my apartment, while condemning myself for only doing laundry once a month and barely cleaning my dishes more than once a week. I then decided to get ahead on my freelancing and blog posts, but ended up lingering and nit-picking at my sentences, before concluding I just wasn’t as good of a writer as the day before. And then, the temptation of Facebook became too much to resist, along with that fourth glass of wine, and against my better judgment and lessons I’ve learned over the last five months – I stalked every ex-boyfriend I’m still linked to. After seeing one-kissy face too many, I started dreaming of all the things I’ve ever wanted and then worrying that I’ll never have them. That I’ll never reach my goals, that I’ll never work for the magazine I want to work for, that I’ll never have a nice apartment, that I’ll never own $700 shoes, that I’ll never (yep, here it is) fall in love again. As I thought of everything I desired, I settled on the fact that what I really needed right then and there was….a man.

A tall, muscular, loving and funny guy. One with a great story. One who amidst every other woman who walked the world, he wanted to stand side-by-side with me. And as I hid under the covers, pedicure socks on and all, I closed my eyes and imagined what it would feel like for him to wrap his arms around me, whisper “Baby, I’ll keep you warm,” and fall asleep with the stubble on his chin and the stickiness of his breath tickling the back of my neck.

This of course, got me to thinking of the last man who slept in my bed and I started wondering what was wrong with me that I didn’t accept Mr. Possibility’s offer for an all-expenses paid, week-long trip to stay with him while he’s overseas. I mean, the weather there is 70 and above, the beaches are warm, he’s staying in a multi-million dollar hotel that’s fancier than anything I could afford. Plus, I’d get to see him every single night, eat more shrimp than I can fathom, and did I mention the suite had one of those Jacuzzi tubs? Before drifting to sleep, I slightly came out of my negative Nancy mentality and remembered another gal’s possibilities had been on those sheets, and though it would have been wonderful – I’d rather have my dignity.

By the time Monday rolled around and I was stuck in the office, unlike most of Manhattan, I still couldn’t shake my unhappiness. With our next issue going to press on Friday and interviews, and deadlines between now and then, I had more than enough to focus on – but yet, my mind was scattered. I kept concentrating on all of my shortcomings and wondered if I was doing enough. Are there more ways I can promote the blog? Can I help people in areas I’m not touching on? Are my blogs getting worse? Is this where I should be in my career right now? Am I saving enough money? Should my run time be better? Is that a new zit on the side of my cheek, I mean, really?

When the clock struck one and I needed to hop the train to meet a mentor for lunch, I walked slow (which is unlike me) and everyone who crossed my path was victim to my notorious death stare that I can never seem to hide, even when I try (not that I was, though). As I listened to her give me advice, support, and praises, I kept telling her how nervous I was and how I didn’t know what to do. After nodding her head along, watching my glass (and attitude) continue to turn half-empty, she simply said: “You know, you’re on this journey to self-love and you believe in it – so why don’t you believe in yourself, as much as you believe in the process?” She had a point, but I still couldn’t shake my mood.

And then, as we were saying our goodbyes outside, I felt something fall from above and hit my pink peacoat, the side of my head, and my ear muffs. I look to figure out what it is and stick my leather gloves right into a nice, warm, splatter of bird poop. When she reassures me it isn’t that bad, I defiantly cut my eyes at the bird, who looks down, with his little happy bird face and twerps. Before I can figure out how to reach him and ring his neck, I hurry back into the café to clean myself off, in a huff.

As I’m wiping my hair, rinsing my gloves, thinking of dry cleaners in my neighborhood, and watching my eyes well up with tears I think, “Well, it’s appropriate isn’t it, Linds? You’ve been shitting on yourself all weekend, so of course, a bird is going to follow in your footsteps.”

And with that, I smile, shake my head, gather myself together, put on my current musical obsession, and head back to the train. Because sometimes, you just have to laugh at your ridiculousness, forgive yourself for having an off couple-of-days, and keep in mind that the point of a journey isn’t the destination, but the steps along the way. That even when you don’t feel lovely or like things are going in the right direction, there is always beauty and blessings to be found around each corner, if we remember to look for them.

There also happens to be bird poop, as well. But from what I hear, it’s a sign of good luck. Right?

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Flirting With Fire

Growing up as a fireman’s daughter, I was taught to steer clear of many things. Open flames, matches, fireplaces, ovens, and campfires, along with anything flammable. My father warned that fire, when it runs wild and uncontrollably, can destroy all in its tailwind.

And in those worse case scenarios, where flames engulf people – it could leave their skin, their touch, their feelings…numb.

As a child, the reality that if I played with fire and couldn’t stop it from growing, then I’d run the risk of not being able to feel my fingers was terrifying. Or maybe my toes, if they got too close to our woodstove. Or my elbow, if I accidentally dipped it in boiling water. Though I was (and still am, really) fascinated with the beauty of orange embers circling the air, I was very cautious and careful with how closely I teased their enticing flames.

But then, as all children do, I grew up.

And instead of literal blazes, the fire that I not only flirted with, but ignited and kept alive, was more in the form of men. These men, who at times lit up my life, and then also extinguished my hopes – were a lot more difficult to resist than the fires I was attracted to a decade before.

Maybe I should have known better and listened to my father, but I ended up proving him right. Sometimes, when you get too close to dangerous warmth and it burns you, a part of your heart and a fragment of your soul, feels like it dies. There have been moments, weeks, months, and even years, if I’m honest – where I was convinced the connection I had with one man, would never be sparked again in another. That because I was burned, I had these scars, these wounds I was still licking – and my heart wasn’t capable of allowing someone else in. Or my body wasn’t ready to make magic with another guy, until the ashes from the previous one were lost in the breeze.

But to have that passion and the velocity that can only come from intensity, is it worth flirting with fire? Is it worth risking the numbness we have all felt and we all fear? Is there a reason they don’t offer “grown-up” fire safety classes?

My newest co-worker, H, is what most people would identify as firery. She is brazen, bold, and when she walks into the office, she makes it known. She sits behind me and throughout the day, I hear her sales calls where she makes jokes with clients, and I’m constantly giggling at her energy. She has a way of lighting up the room – even on a Monday, and that’s saying a lot.

Last week, this firecracker pranced in and declared that she was jealous. One of her male friends had introduced her to his new girlfriend at a benefit they were attending, and at the point where she was to reach for his gal’s hand, she found herself dumbstruck and for a reason she’s yet to determine, she felt the green envy monster creeping its way out. Now, maybe this means she has feelings for her friend that she didn’t notice previously or she wasn’t prepared to know he was taken, regardless; experiencing jealousy wasn’t a bad thing for her – but a good thing.

With excited expressions and gestures, she said “I haven’t felt jealous in such a long time! I had forgotten what it felt like to feel like this…and it feels so good to feel something.”

At first, I was a little confused by the statement – as every dating book and article in any magazine I’ve read advises us to steer clear from envy, but then I thought about it. And I realized that after being numb or closed off from relationships or hiding from the opportunity for something more, there comes a point where we realize, we can feel again. Often times, when we’re not even trying or looking for it.

While physical flames that run rampant and uncontainable through forests and tend to piss Smoky the Bear off are irreversible, the fires we build with men we love can be destructive, but not permanent.

Sometimes, all it takes is a second, a glance, an encounter, or a simple brush against your hand – for you to recognize those third-degree burns, maybe weren’t so third-degree after all. That maybe, the band-aid can be taken off and you don’t need to run yourself under cold water, trying to put out the burning around your heart. Because perhaps, without realizing, you’ve healed yourself.

A large part of this journey and why I decided to embark on it in the first place was that I knew I needed to let go. Since I started dating at 15, there were (and admittedly still are), lesions from lost-love that I couldn’t let mend. Places in my heart and in my attitude that were scorched from the many men who I thought would love me endlessly, and merely turned out to be just another chapter in the book I don’t know the ending of.  And the saddest part about it was that I wasn’t even interested in repairing the burns. Somehow, my battle wounds gave me comfort as much as they gave me pain. In some respect, using the excuse that “I’m just numb” to any relationship, to any possible love, protected me from taking a chance. And if I did happen to go out on that limb and it broke, I could simply claim, “Well, this is just what happens to me. I find the fire, but it always gets put out.

Well – not anymore.

Because now, I know I can feel. And I know I can be burned. But more importantly – I know I can survive. Just because passion can grow and then wither away in an instant, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth feeling it in the first place. Nor, can anyone, regardless of the burn degree or how widely the fire spreads – be forever numb from the flames.

No matter how hard we try or fast we run or how careful we are above our stoves or while making s’mores – the fire will always catch up to us. And if we’re lucky, we know that maybe fire isn’t such a bad thing but more so, a friend. Perhaps if we allow it to glow, first inside of us, giving us the courage to blaze new trails alone – one day, the love we’ll find – in ourselves or with a man, could be powerful enough that we stop being afraid of the flames. And maybe flirt with them, just one more time.

P.S. If you’ve linked to Confessions of a Love Addict, let Lindsay know for the “Support” page. Email her.

I Am Ms. Right

Somewhere in this world, and perhaps in this city, lives a man.

He is a living, breathing, actual person with a history that I don’t know. He was born somewhere and he may or may not have moved away from his hometown. He has a freckle in an odd place that’s hidden away under his clothes. He has an ex-girlfriend who broke his heart, a certain way he loves to be kissed, and he may care less if the Jets won or loss. He has a food that he can’t get enough of, a vegetable he isn’t the biggest fan of, and a scar that has a story. He has buddies he’s known since elementary school and a teacher who made an impact that lasted past the classroom. He knows every single word to a few songs, has read a book or two that he couldn’t put down, and he has a place he dreams of going, but never has. He may have an affinity for Southern-raised women who are writers with blue eyes and big city dreams, who also have the independence and ambition to make them a reality.

I haven’t met this man. Or if I have, I don’t know it yet. But this person, with all of his incredible and messy qualities, is the man I have faith I will meet, and possibly marry one day. I don’t believe in the idea of a soulmate who makes your “half” a whole, but I do trust there is a single person for everyone, who is suitable (and preferable) for life-long commitment.

Before this journey, the fact that my person, my hubby-to-be, existed, and I had no control over when I’d meet him – really bothered me. I would watch all of my friends, either on Facebook or in real life – getting engaged, talking about how they met their match, and waltzing down the aisle, and all I could think was: “Why not me?! Why don’t I deserve to meet my guy? Where the hell is he?

And so, to combat these desperate thoughts that made me feel unworthy and unattractive, I immersed myself in romantic illusions about him – and at any given moment, I prepared for our paths to cross.

Somehow, fantasies of an elusive Mr. Right: what he’ll look like, how he’ll kiss me, how we’ll meet, how we’ll both ‘just know’, and how it will all play into a divinity I’ve yet to experience – are easier to dream about then to focus on what really deserves attention: myself.

And that’s a self-defeating approach I’ve seemed to master. I’ve had a reoccurring dream about being married to someone named Brian Ward, who I’ve yet to meet – but if you’re out with me, and a dude says his name is Brian, my head whips around quicker than it does when I see a sample sale near my office. I’ve filled nearly two notebooks full of “Letters to My Husband” that have chronicled my life since junior year in college, and I only stopped writing in it when I started this blog. As ridiculous as it may sound, I went to a psychic (who has been scarily accurate thus far) and she told me to put a rose quartz in the most right-hand corner of my room along with a list of all the qualities I looked for in my future husband, to bring him near me, faster.

Yeah, you guessed it, I followed instructions. The little package even made the move to New York, only to be packed away when I decided I had enough of this love-addiction mess. Until I realized that my expectations of this man, who while I’m sure will be charming, will most likely not be a prince, and will really have no need to rescue me from anything. So what was I doing putting all of this energy into him? Especially when I haven’t even, technically, met him?

While I was picturing him, getting lost in the endless wondering of when (or if) I would meet him or pondering if I could catch a glimpse of him on the next train or bump into him at the next cocktail hour – I had forgotten that a relationship with myself is really the one I needed to be working on.

Really, I knew had a choice: I could get lost in this fantasy character I’ve established in my mind, with dark wavy hair, blue eyes, and perfect, succulent lips who makes more money than I can dream of (but is insanely humble and talented) – or I could first accept myself, and then accept him, for whoever he is. This doesn’t mean I settled for less than I deserved or lowered my standards, but I realized that instead of writing him letters and wishing on a “magical” pink-colored stone, I could just go about my life and let whatever is meant to happen, happen.

I still have a ways to go on this journey, but I hadn’t realized how much progress I made until a handsome stranger locked eyes with me on the subway yesterday and I smiled back, before getting off at my stop – and it occured to me: I haven’t thought about running into Mr. Right in such a long time.

And that was it. I did it. I finally let go of anticipating our encounter or wishing on stars to meet him.

And today, I’m a living, breathing person. I have dozens of stories that he doesn’t know. I’ve been lucky to love some wonderful men, and I’ve learned from the ones who have done me wrong. There are foods that I would never give up, for any diet, and I admittedly have memorized most Backstreet Boy songs. I have a scar on my left wrist that’ll forever remind me of the car accident that changed my view on charity. I’m full of endless hope and can be inspired by even the slightest of sightings, conversations, or words. I’m short, but my personality isn’t.

Regardless of when he stumbles into my life or what he is really like or what color his eyes are, I am just as important of a character, of a person, as he is. And finally, he isn’t my top concern, my highest priority, or the thing I worry the most about. I don’t dress to impress him, imagine all of the ways I could meet him during the activities before me each morning, or curse the universe for delaying our impending marriage.

Instead, my look, my style, is my own. I look forward to the moments of my day where I’ll do something that’s fulfilling and helps others. And I thank the heavens above for giving me the chance and the drive to devote my passion, my enthusiasm to the most important, most beautiful, and most life-altering relationship I’ll ever experience: the love I have for me, or what I’d like to call myself…Ms. Right.

The Guy We Pity: Mr. Temporary

Upon returning from my summer internship in New York after my sophomore year in college, I found myself incredibly bored.

Though I had a fantastic group of friends, a demanding associate editor position at the school newspaper, and a college town that welcomed me back with gold-and-black open arms – I  missed my city, and nothing seemed to measure up to it. It took me a while to adjust and return back to a comfortable state so I could settle in for another one-and-a-half years of college. And to help me pass the time was Mr. Temporary.

That year for my sorority’s (yes, I’m Greek, no judging) semi-formal not only was I dress-less, but also date-less. Though I tried to project the impression that it didn’t bother me, I did hope that suddenly, out of the framework, someone would appear for me to dance the night away with. To my surprise, my sister, B, hooked me up with a friend of a friend whom she thought I would at least enjoy the company of for an evening.

She was right.

At first glance, Mr. Temporary had the stats of a promising boyfriend: tall, olive skin, green eyes, killer smile, and well-dressed. If you like the cowboy-type-of-thing (I’m not a huge fan), he had that special little twang that’s only derived South of the Mason-Dixon. He was also talented, had goals for himself, and he told me I looked beautiful when he first laid eyes on me. That’s a brownie point in my book.

However, as we continued to see each other after the semi-formal and I learned more about him – I realized how far from my type he actually was. Though he was very intelligent, he was closed-minded about the issues that mattered the most to me. He did want a career with children, which is admirable, but just the thought of New York made him want to gag. He had a very attractive physique, but his kissing skills were way below par for his age. Or really, for any age.

So why, sitting across him over Spicy Tuna and Shrimp Tempura rolls, I agreed to turn my Claddagh ring around, is beyond me.

Maybe it was being lonely and enjoying just having the company of someone, or the way he seemed to be smitten with me, or the safety net of not having to be labeled as single – but something, against my better judgement decided to be an item with a man who I knew would never be the one for the long run. While I really don’t feel like I have any regrets thus far in my life, I will say I made a very poor decision by being “exclusive” with Mr. Temporary.

In the two or three months we dated -I lost interest day-by-day. When we introduced sex into the relationship, I was horrified at how awful it was and how much it lacked passion. When I met his mother, who didn’t know how to stop talking for the entire time we were at dinner, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could stand to be her daughter-in-law. When I met his roommate for the first time, it took every ounce of restraint in me to not flirt with him – for he was miles more attractive than Mr. Temporary. And when it was time to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I knew the girlfriend-thing to do was to buy him something, I couldn’t find any card (even in the “I like you” section) that was appropriate for what I felt.

Mainly because I didn’t really feel anything. That is, anything but fear of being alone.

Sadly, the thing to release me from clinging onto something because I was so terrified of having seemingly-nothing, was the death of my best friend L’s mother. On Friday the 13th, the day before St. Valentine’s infamous day, she lost her 10-year battle with breast cancer, and after I received the bad-news phone call, I rushed out of class and back to embrace L. I sent a quick text message to Mr. Temporary letting him know I would be missing Valentine’s Day and the entire weekend – and then ceased talking to him for four days.

I didn’t even respond to worried texts or calls or Facebook posts because not only was I mourning the loss of a beautiful, wise, and strong woman, consoling L to the best of my ability (there really aren’t words you can say, even as a writer) – I was also using this time to liberate myself from Mr. Temporary. And perhaps, I took that liberation a tad bit far.

I happened to run into Mr. Fling right after the funeral, tears still slightly plummenting down my cheeks, and needing to get back to school for a newspaper meeting that I sincerely didn’t want to attend. He comforted me, held me close, and kissed my eyelids so very tenderly. And in that moment of weakness, in that second of sincerity and care that he offered me, I allowed myself to fall into him. A kiss led to snuggling, which led to a black dress on the floor, which brought us to…

Needless to say, with a million different feelings running haywire in my heart and soul, I knew when I returned back to school – the very last thing I needed was one more headache, especially when I knew I would be causing a heartache. And so, with integrity and honesty, I confessed what I had done and things ended with Mr. Temporary as easily as they began. I made no excuses for cheating and don’t accept them if it’s the other way around, but I was truthful by telling him the reason I strayed wasn’t due to him, but was completely me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t get upset, and I didn’t really mind him being gone. Because that weekend, I learned a very important lesson about life and about love.

It is true that life is short and if you ever enter a relationship with the mindset that it will only be an in-between type of love or someone to fill the cold spot in your bed – you are wasting your time (and their time). Even if you are not seeking a forever partner, marriage, or happily ever after – if you’re allowing the romantic part of your soul to be captivated by someone who doesn’t satisfy, excite, or really match you, the ending will only be hurtful the longer it continues. While some relationships are not meant to last, our hearts are built to endure pain, and the intensity felt at midnight isn’t always as strong when the sun peeks above the skyline – in terms of love, if you know before you even get started that it is fleeting feeling, save yourself the trouble.

Break free of the bounds of fear, of those nagging voices in our heads that tell us that Mr. Right Now is acceptable if we aren’t having any luck meeting Mr. Right, and of our bodies who lust for attention and petting, even if it isn’t the most enjoyable of experiences.  Allow the love you have for yourself to gain momentum, take pride in the ability you have to depend on your own person, and for his sake, don’t lead Mr. Temporary on. Especially if there is a Mr. Fling readily available.