Patience is a Virgin

I really feel sorry for my Facebook friends. Truly. I spam the hell out of my page – with posts from WordPress, Tumblr, and my own random thoughts/updates of the day. I disconnected Twitter because I didn’t want the people I actually know and I’m actually friends with to get completely irritated with me. Now, when I add a new friend that I actually talk to, I warn them of my overly active spewing.

Though it may be a little spam-rific at times, there are posts I have that cultivate conversation. When this happens, I find myself engaged in cyber conversations with people I normally don’t talk to often, but maybe I should. Such a thing happened today when I posted a status that read, “If patience is a virtue, then I’m not very virtuous.” Obviously, I was illustrating my frustration with finding peace in today and in tomorrow. Mr. Possibility and I are leaving for vacation on Monday morning for a week, and though I’m swamped at work, the hours between 9 and 6 can’t pass any slower.

In response to my update, a friend from NC said, ” My friend’s daughter, 8 years old, recently reminded us: ‘Patience is a virgin.’ Upon further reflection, and after several minutes of laughing, we realized that she had, in fact, made a good point, albeit unintentional.” After reading his message, I giggled and instantly liked, thinking about the meaning behind the words, the cryptic message an innocent kid sent without knowing.

A lack of patience only comes after you’ve experienced the many games of waiting. Like waiting to hear back about a job or waiting for a guy to text back after an incredible first date. Or waiting for a promotion or waiting to be approved for a loan, a house, an adoption. Or waiting to meet the man you’ll marry, the baby you’ll have, and the apartment you dream of owning, but don’t. Waiting for the perfect title or for the time when you can pack your bags up and head North.

Once we get to the age where waiting becomes commonplace and ordinary, we stop focusing on patience and instead, try to distract ourselves into some meaningless task until the waiting period is over. But we don’t really grow good at it, we don’t really learn to be peaceful and patient, we just find something to get us through.

Was the little gal right? Is patience only for the virgins? For those of us who have never wanted, never yearned, never hoped for something or someone so deeply that it hurt to wait? And what about when we are broken in, when patience is popped the first time we are put to the test? The first experience where we hold out for something, we cross our fingers, our toes, our legs and even our eyes wishing for something and then at the end, it’s one of those wishes that wasn’t meant to come true? Or a love we tell ourselves wasn’t meant to be?

Once we’ve lost our patience virginity, once we’ve become adults who want and need, instead of having everything provided, how do we learn to practice peace? Master the art of doing without but cherishing what we do have? Instead of being ancy and dissatisfied, twiddling our thumbs in anticipation, forgetting about giving people a break and giving life a chance to take over without controlling every aspect of our existence?

Can we re-virginize ourselves? I mean, I hear it’s a happenin’ trend now.

I don’t think so – but I do think we learn ways to cope. We learn to practice self-help, self-motivation, self-soothing methods that bring us some sort of calm in the in-between times of uncertainty. Because we’ve been there before, because we’ve felt these same things in these same way, we know how to handle it. We become better equipped to balance ourselves and we learn tactics for dealing with our fears and our frustrations. We survive and if we’re among the ones who strive, we eventually thrive. But we’ll never get back to that virgin-like state, that purity, that honestly, that only comes from being blissfully naïve, young and unaffected by the perils of patience.

That’s the thing about any type of virginity you lose, regardless if it’s having sex, living away from home, having a big girl job, having real world bills and rent, being someone’s wife, being accountable for your own actions, and being responsible for someone’s broken heart – once you let go and burst the bubble of oblivion…there’s nowhere to return to. No outlet to restore.

Instead, you just pack up what you have, who you are, what you’ve learned and you go out to face another day, another opportunity to lose another virginity, getting yourself one step closer to being one of those cool, independent, sophisticated adults we always wanted to be.

You know, before we lost our adult virginity and found ourselves laying in bed, feeling like a stranger naked in the company of ourselves, wondering: “Really, this is it? This is what everyone talked about? It’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.”

The Peril of Public

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Man of His Word

As a journalist, it’s my responsibility to get under people’s skin. This doesn’t always mean in a negative way, but to get a story or to get the best angle – sometimes you have to ask a lot of questions. Even more so, you are drawn by this idea that there is something more than what people initially reveal and it is your job to evoke those concealed emotions out of them.

And usually, I do a pretty good job at interviewing  by fiercely, yet kindly, easing out information that’s below the surface. Because of this so-called “talent” – I’ve been pretty successful in my career, but I’ve allowed this skill to throw me off course in relationships.

Why? I don’t really take a man at his word.

He may say something, but as far as I’m concerned – it goes in one ear and right out the other. Maybe even more destructive, I tend to hear what I want to hear and heed red flags until I have to pull out my white one and surrender. Somehow, even if a guy has laid it all out there for me – the good or the bad or the very ugly – I’ve questioned it. I’ve debated it. I’ve wrapped it around my head three or four times and drawn my own conclusions instead of taking what he’s promised or said at face value.

As I’ve described, I’ve met Mr. Faithful, Mr. Fling, Mr. Fire, Mr. Idea, and Mr. Unavailable over the course of my dating history. Now, I’ll admit that men (and women, too) sometimes promise things or relationships or feelings or promises they can’t fully deliver. I think at our core, we all want to do right by those who make an impression on us, romantically or not, and I highly doubt anyone goes into a committment thinking “I’ll break this one day, even though I said I wouldn’t!” If you do, I suggest you stop reading my words and seek serious help, alrighty?

Nevertheless, if I go back to these dudes, all of which have left and continue to leave distinctive impressions on my soul, and think about the words they’ve used to describe themselves or their intentions – I may have saved myself a little heartbreak if I would have listened. If a guy tells you right at the start that he isn’t over his ex-girlfriend and isn’t ready for a relationship: that’s what he means. This isn’t a line he uses to pick up the ladies or a vulnerable side he pulls out to distract you from seeing that he truly, honestly, just wants to meet a woman who will lick and heal his wounds. He doesn’t want this woman and this woman isn’t you, so why put yourself in a situation where you seek a man who is unattainable?

Or if a guy tells you he wants to have sex – or rather doesn’t say it, but only calls you at midnight when he’s had a few too many – that doesn’t mean he magically falls in love with you after an orgasm. It means he came (pun intended) to see you for a specific reason and goal. And sadly, if a guy says he worries about breaking your heart or hurting you, he does actually have a soul, but it’d be in your best interest to walk away before his premonition comes true.

I won’t say there are not exceptions to these ideas, but I’ve learned, often the hard way, that sometimes you can learn so much more about the person you’re falling for if you catch yourself and start really listening, instead of projecting. Because anyone can put on Mr. Right’s cape and ride in on a horse with a bouquet full of tulips,  if we rent the stallion from a stable, hand the dude $30, and give him a sword and a script. If you project an idea on a man, instead of seeing him for his true-blue colors, all you will see is your reflection.

Now, as I’ve said trust is one of the most important building bricks in the foundation of a great relationship, especially the one you have with yourself but also with a partner. And as far as love is concerned, if you don’t truly listen to what someone is telling you, you never can develop that security or promise that’s required for an everlasting union.

And step one to gaining trust both in myself and in the men that I date is opening my ears and closing my mouth and imagination.

It also means that when a great man with a kind heart comes along, I must be able to turn the same token around and realize that if a man says he’ll be there – I have to have enough courage to take him at that word, too. If I forever let the bruises of the yesterday cause harm to the love I’ll grow today, then there is no opportunity for prosperity tomorrow. Just because one man lied, or I decided to construe my own meaning out of his words, doesn’t mean they are all one-in-the-same.

Possibly though, even more strenuous than accepting a man who will never love you in the way imagined or learning to gradually open up your heart that’s been shattered more times than you’d like to count – is also learning to listen to yourself. To the words you put out into the world and into the ears of men whom you’d like to accept as your boyfriend on Facebook (even with the new annoying interface). Because if you accept a man at his word, in return he will accept you at yours – thus making each and every single thing you say, so vital. If something isn’t okay or isn’t fine or doesn’t feel good or makes you uneasy or feels like settling, you have to stand up and say: why, yes, I frankly do give a damn about that.

If I want to meet a man who I can trust to say what he means when he says it and be a man of good word and honesty – I have to be a woman of the same principle. Because what is the use of language if it isn’t dependable? If we couldn’t trust in what we read and  in exchanged sentiments from page-to-page in the magazines or pillow-to-pillow with our lover, would we ever get anywhere?

That is, anywhere other than subjected to below-the-fold and in the corner, or crying in the shower (where we need not worry about mascara), wondering: “why didn’t I just listen to him from the get-go?

The Obsession Network

Let’s be honest: Facebook is not good for ex-boyfriends.

In fact, it is probably the worse idea ever created for us love addicts. It has every tool necessary to figure out whatever it is you want to know about someone –regardless if they want you to or not.

Think about how many times in a day you check FB or update your status or go through someone’s pictures or read conversations that have nothing to do with you. Or what about just taking a look at what your ex is up to, because you’re finally at the point where you can? And if you’re not at that point, you “test” yourself by looking at his profile and seeing how it makes you feel to see another gal writing on his wall? Better yet, have you heard of Facebook-drunk-stalking? I’m sure you have. Instead of just avoiding drunk-texting, we now have to avoid drunk-Facebooking. I mean, Facebooking is even a verb now?

I’m as guilty as the next person of having all of these ridiculous habits, and if you are my ex-boyfriend (or someone I remotely was interested in), I admit to knowing or doing the following:

  • What you’re currently doing career or school wise
  • Who you’re dating and who you have dated in the past
  • Any picture you’ve been tagged in or made your profile picture since we broke up
  • Current trends concerning your statuses
  • If I’ve had access with privacy settings, I’ve read wall-to-wall conversations
  • If you’ve invited me to an event, I’ve seriously considered going
  • If you’ve been on Facebook chat while I was on Facebook chat, I’ve wanted to (and maybe have) IMed you
  • If you wrote on my wall (even if it’s just for my birthday), I’ve thought long and hard about what to write back
  • Anything you have posted on your profile as information, including websites, quotes, etc, I’ve stalked
  • I’ve glared at the screen when your current girlfriend wrote something sweet on your wall
  • I’ve felt very angry, nauseous, annoyed, jealous, and just flat-out bitchy when I’ve seen cute pictures of your girlfriend and you
  • I’ve tracked things you’ve done and tried to make conclusions based on pure assumptions (like you became friends with her five minutes ago and then she wrote on your wall about last night…so you met her last night? Or what?)
  • If you’ve become engaged, I’ve been highly, highly angry for a full day. Sometimes more than one
  • If you’re not engaged, but I think you will be, I’ve cringed when looking at your wall
  • I’ve probably deleted you from my feed, but I still go stalk on my own
  • I’ve blocked you and unblocked you (did you guys know about the 48-hour rule?), removed you from friends, and re-added you (thank you ex-boyfriends for playing along)

Yeah, maybe this doesn’t paint me in the brightest light, but if someone is going to give me access to your profile, as a journalist, and as a love addict, it is my duty to completely dissect your profile. While Facebook is coined as The Social Network, is does not create a network of love but rather, an “obsessive network.”

And in an effort to un-obsess my life, my thoughts, and my relationships – I’m attempting to get a little less crazy with Facebook. At least in terms of my former flames. I hate when my confidence or my mood goes from super-high to an all-time low when I see one update or one picture or one wall post that makes me sad.  And I hate it even more that I have to physically and emotionally remind myself to not look at someone’s profile because of the damage it could do. Seriously, Facebook is having all these troubles with privacy issues and I think it is rubbing off on its users.

Yes, I’m “friends” with my ex-boyfriends, but only by Facebook’s definition. And I wouldn’t want someone who I really am not that close to digging around into every corner of my profile (but if they do, they’re probably reading this, go figure) – so maybe I should give my former loves the same respect.

So, with the start of step 4, as I dig back into my obsessive habits and try to correct them, the first task…is taking a big ‘ol step back. No more obsessing over what someone writes on someone’s wall who I kissed three times sophomore year of college. No more analyzing the facial expressions of a couple that came to be right after he broke up with me. No more blocking and re-blocking an ex just to see if anything changes.

This journey is not about what my ex-boyfriends are doing on Facebook. It is not about who they are sleeping with instead of being in love with me. It is not about our past, what we’re doing in our presents, or what will happen in our futures. Because any part of “we” or “our” or “us” doesn’t exist.

What does exist is everything I’ve learned from those relationships, the internal battles I’ve had to fight (and will continue to fight) to let go of love and to finally, with the start of this blog, take a stand for myself. And to know that if I wanted to, I could be Facebook official, in love with, in a relationship with… myself (although I won’t do that because that’s just takin’ it a little too far).

So sorry, Facebook, but I’m only going to give you 75 hits a day, instead of the 150 I’ve been giving you the last five years.

But if so-and-so does get engaged, whoever he may be, no one tell me until like step 11, okay?