Oh Hello!

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Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? I hope so because I’ve been gone for quite a long time. Last time I was on here I was just as socially awkward but younger, single, and much more unsure of myself. I was trying to find out who I was amidst the twenties New York dating scene, which pretty much dwindled down to: lonely, frustrated, confused, and mildly depressed. Well…A LOT has changed. I’m no longer lonely or confused and I’m only slightly frustrated and depressed. Oh and I’m gay and married. So… how did I get here from swiping hard lefts on weird men? Let me share.

Well before there was the “spectrum of sexuality” we feel so comfortable in now, I had definitely been attracted to women but it wasn’t as accepted as it is today. I had just pushed those feelings aside because I was afraid of being gay because it meant you were different and I desperately tried to fit in even though I just never really did. I didn’t need something additional to put me on the outside looking in. So the closet became my safe space. I was afraid I would have no friends in high school, I was afraid the friends in college that I did have would stop being friends with me, and then by the time I was in my twenties I felt I missed my “college experience” to mess around with girls and now had to find myself a serious boyfriend who was husband material. I had to stay on track so to speak.

This isn’t to say the relationships I had were fake. I had genuine feelings for the men I have dated. The hardest part about meeting a woman I truly loved and coming out was wrapping my head around the fact that I could love a woman and could have loved a man too. I had a hard time validating that my feelings in the past were real. But they were. My first boyfriend was amazing. Was he kind of like a woman? Yes. He had long hair, he gardened, he was sensitive, he played folk guitar, and was a soft passionate lover. But he also had a penis. He looked like a more feminine version of Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. I learned a lot from that relationship and I can’t just disregard it because I married a woman. He helped me understand that I am lovable and deserve to be treated with respect. Before him I was just hooking up with guys who would use me and he showed me that I didn’t need to just give people my body in order for them to pay attention to me and that attention didn’t mean love. But the best thing he did for me was let me go. When I graduated college he was still attending. I wanted to stay in the relationship because…naive me…I thought I was going to marry him (he was my first boyfriend!). I remember him telling me that I couldn’t stay in Delaware especially for him. I had to move to New York and meet other people and live my life. I am so thankful to this day that he did that…even if he was just trying to get rid of me. Love can be so blinding and I couldn’t see that I would have been miserable in Delaware and we probably wouldn’t have ended up together because we didn’t know each other that well and he doesn’t have a vagina.

So I serial dated my twenties away. Babbling with Bev was a testimony to my experiences. They were pretty much horrific. You can go back and read but overall it was not pleasant. The people I met were not quality people but I did come out with some pretty good stories. I also had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. I was following a path someone else laid out for me and that’s why I was constantly disappointed and so angry and frustrated. I was dating guys in search of finding a husband because that’s just what you did. I was working at a 9 to 5 job in an office because that’s what you did. I was so unhappy with these choices and never thought to think for myself. Eventually I got so depressed I just stopped doing everything…except visiting Burger King. In my late twenties I went into a deep depression, smoked a lot of pot, and ate a lot of fast food, which makes for a very lonely and sad life. I could barely work let alone meet anyone and as my brother would say, “I looked dead in the eyes”. I was on antidepressants, which weren’t helping, and felt so stuck. I needed change, a kick in the ass, I didn’t know what but something! I’m not sure what it was but celebrating 30 was a turning point and something clicked and my perception shifted. I decided to try a new integrative doctor who combines holistic and western medicine which changed my life. I got diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome (sounds just as awesome as it is), IBS, PCOS, an inability to absorb nutrients from food (super), multiple food allergies/sensitivities including gluten and dairy, all which exacerbate depression and anxiety. So I guess you could say I had a lot going on. Working with the doctor to figure out a nutrition plan, supplements, and exercise plan helped me to feel better and be able to function but I still felt like something was missing.

I started to get back out there and get my life back. Figuring out what I wanted to do for work was priority number one. I tried comedy, writing, working at a temple, a whole bunch of random things but everything led me back to social work. I felt more myself than I had in a while when I got into private practice. This was a great step but I wanted to share my life with someone. So the swiping commenced…again. This time was different though. When I was setting up my profile and preferences I wasn’t on autopilot. For some reason I paused when it came to, “Looking for”. You had three choices: men, women, or men and women (which now I know would not be PC). So I chose both. Why not widen the pool and see what’s out there. What happened next was a huge regression. I began to treat myself as I had before my first boyfriend. I thought all people wanted from me was sex. I was so new in the gay world. I had no idea how to approach women besides in a sexual way. I went on a date with one girl and we hooked up even though we had nothing in common and I swore off women forever. I remember being at my friend’s birthday party and telling my friends the news. I was proud of my experience and excited to tell them which was progress for me. But I was also still uncomfortable with it and spoke about it in a bragging way almost like it was a conquest… like talking about it the way an ahole guy would. Like, “Yo I hooked up with a hot girl last night”. Not cool. I remember complaining though that it wasn’t good and I felt uncomfortable and that it wasn’t for me. One of my friends, the genius that she is, said, “Well why don’t you give someone else a try? Maybe she wasn’t for you?”. The thought hadn’t occurred to me. I thought I had given it a shot so now I could go back to being straight and just file it as one of my crazy sex stories. It took me a month, but after a few more awful dates with guys and feeling like I was just not connecting I started searching again for women.

It was a Sunday morning when I mustered up the courage to contact a cute girl I had matched with on Tinder. It took all my brain power but I managed to come up with the witty message of, “Hey Lauren!” Worked like a charm. Within minutes she asked if I wanted to switch from the app to texting on our phones. From that day on we have texted every single day and four years later we are married. Definitely not without our ups ands downs but for better or worse I found my person. We aren’t perfect. We fight, we are moody, we annoy each other, we see each other at our worst, but we still want to be around and there for each other and love each other more every day. Everything I wanted in a partner was always in front of me but I wasn’t looking for it. I’m so happy I got out of my own way and stopped caring more about what other people thought and cared more about what makes me happy. Even though going through depression and dark times suck, it showed me how resilient I am and led me to the place I am now. It’s not perfect but it’s good and has room to get even better. I’m excited to see where life takes me and excited to be on this journey with my partner in crime.

I guess what I got out of all those bad dates and awkward moments is that it can all lead to a good place. Don’t give up and when you feel stuck then try something new. Until the next babble.

Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover…Unless It’s “Mein Kampf”

Mein Kampf

We’re always told, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and I’m here to tell you to judge it.  Yes, when you are literally talking about a book maybe that advice applies but when referring to people the proverb doesn’t quite hold water.  The famous phrase isn’t “Love at first good conversation” for a reason.  As shallow as it sounds, attraction is the initial driving force in a relationship.  I’m not saying someone’s personality can’t help or be a deal breaker, but looks are definitely important, especially in the beginning.

A picture says a thousand words and they’re not all necessarily benevolent.  There is a creep factor that seems to seep through pictures if you are in fact a creep.  It’s this little thing we like to call intuition.  If someone looks off, they most likely are off.  However, I grew up being told to give people chances regardless of looks because attraction is something that can develop.  Yes, maybe if you were friends first or met in person, but online it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I have already given a few examples of my tumultuous relationship with dating, but here’s another one that supports my argument:

For this round of online dating I have really been trying to find someone with similar interests and what can be perceived as a good personality (from the little information you have on a website) and a good match for me.  This guy contacted me and my first reaction to his pictures was a weird feeling in my gut.  I decided that I needed to be open minded and look at the whole profile and to my surprise I was actually laughing out loud.  *Side note: If you can make me laugh, it’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll give you a shot.*  I replied and we had some good banter back and forth.  Some questionable areas of conversation arose about family and upbringing.  The only person he has a relationship with is his Dad and he moved around his whole life (a ton in recent years) so he did not have a huge family or social circle.  That should have been my second red flag after my gut reaction.

Despite the fact that my creep alarm was on high alert, I agreed to meet him.  My rationalization was that I am looking for a relationship so being open to different people and situations is part of the deal.  Much to my dismay, the date didn’t go well from the very beginning.

I was pulling up to the restaurant in my car trying to find parking when I saw this really short guy flipping his hair, like Justin Beiber, in a full Adidas sweatsuit and what looked like K Swiss sneakers.  I, of course, knew this was my date and again my stomach sank a little.  I found parking and walked up to him as he kept doing the hair flip.  As he turned toward me, it was like I was staring at the poster child for the Aryan race with what appeared to be a boil on his face the size of a walnut.  Awesome.  Off to another great start!

So we sit down to dinner in an overly crowded but, thankfully, dimly lit area of the restaurant.  For a few minutes we did have a good conversation and some laughs (if a third party came along they would think we were having a great date).  We started talking about holidays with the family and how he had missed that growing up.  I actually felt bad and thought maybe he was a good person with a bad sense of style and skin problems.  Wrong, I began to talk about one of my family’s Passover seders when he asked what a seder was.  I explained that I’m Jewish and on Passover we have a seder and gave him a quick history behind it.  He then replied, “Oh you’re Jewish?”.  After that things went downhill.  I kept staring at the boil as he spoke of his family roots.  Immediately after I declared my Jew status, he informed me that his grandparents were most likely Nazis in Germany, and said this while smiling.  The creep vibe started to spread through out my body as the conversation spiraled to a crashing stop.  I thought, am I really desperate enough to be taking dates with Hitler Youth?

Love may be blind but unfortunately so is desperation. All the signs were there to begin with.  Had I just trusted my intuition, I could have avoided this confusing/alarming date with the boiled faced anti-semite.  He had the appearance of a German Men’s Junior soccer player and the essence of a rapist.  Combine that with the Nazi ancestry and I was pretty much in hell.  I now have a rule that if I have a gag reflex to your picture, for any reason, I’m moving onto the next contestant.

Dating should be mostly fun and giving everyone under the sun a chance does not do you any good.  It’s admirable to not be shallow or materialistic but I rather not have to deal with a neo Nazi with a penchant for nomadic living.  I’m starting to theorize that his moving around was not a coincidence!  Let’s just say the FBI’s most wanted list now has more meaning in my life.

Basically, if the picture is not up to par then the person probably isn’t either.  It’s good to take pride in how you look and present yourself, even in a profile.  It says a lot about you and is a good way to separate the possible mates from the improbable.  Plus if you’re attracted from just a picture and profile…that’s not a bad sign.  Use caution when: A person has only one picture that is a self pic, far away shots, mug shots (or anything resembling), or has a picture that causes a physical reaction.  Those are warning signs to stay away.  Ignoring them does not make you a better person and will most likely involve an awkward or uncomfortable situation that leaves you right where you started.  Maybe a little bit more disturbed but still single and looking.

So the decision is up to you.  Judge a book by it’s cover or don’t.  But ask yourself this, do you really want to be the face on the milk carton?

Until the next charmer,

Bev

He’s Just Not That Into Himself…A Guide to Men’s Overcompensation

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There is a misconception that women are the insecure gender. Yes, girls criticize themselves and are socialized to believe if we’re not supermodels then we’re not attractive or perfect just the way we are. But what about men? No one ever discusses the insecurities that plague men because if a guy shows weakness he’s looked down upon or called a pussy. By no means do I want a guy who is crying all the time but being in touch with your feelings is not a bad thing! How can you be secure if you are not honest with how you feel about yourself?  The answer is NOT all men are secure.

I didn’t conduct an experiment with a control group but my exposure to men has lead me to this conclusion.  Since I began online dating again, I’ve noticed that most of the guys I am talking to have something in common, low self esteem.  However, it would not appear that way to the naked eye.  Many come off as cocky and overcompensate whether it’s how much money they have or how far along in their career they believe they are.  But it’s those little comments and gestures that blow their poker face.

Let me give you a clear example:

I was talking to this guy, we’ll call him Peter Griffin (explanation to follow), and he immediately asked me if I liked his pictures.  Peter had actually contacted me on another site a few years back and used the same pictures so I knew these were not recent.  There was the first hint of deception.  The old picture.  This will probably come up in every post but, come on, if you don’t look like your picture then don’t post it!  Then he asked me if I look like my pictures.  He pressed this topic for a while as I reassured him I wasn’t a 56 year old man pleasuring himself at the public library computer.  He kept talking about how we were both really good looking people (and pointed out how people tell him he’s handsome all the time).  He then pat himself on the back for his sexual prowess.  Peter noted quite a few times how long he could go for yet he hadn’t asked for my name yet.  I agreed to go out with him because he lives close and has a Labradoodle (as do I).  I thought, if nothing else, I would have another friend at the dog park.

The date.  Peter Griffin took me to a cafe that was cute but more so for meeting an old friend for coffee.  This was Saturday night and the nicest meal they had on the menu was a burger and fries.  But he was classy, he brought champagne, Korbel, and had it chilling for my arrival.  As I expected, he did not look like his pictures.  Coincidently his first question was, “So, do I look like my pics?”.  What am I supposed to say?  No, you have less hair, are 50 pounds heavier, and might be batting for the other team.  Then he went on to tell me about his new exercise regimen and low carb diet (he offered me some dieting tips…yup), what he had for lunch, what he has for lunch on a regular work day, and how he already feels lighter and more energetic.  Peter didn’t forget to mention the amazing apartment he has and how much money it costs, the new cars he gets every year (from a Hassidic family in Brooklyn?), and how he’s a “musician”.  FYI, owning a guitar and singing along with the radio does not make you a musician.

I hate goodbyes but this one I was looking forward to.  As we’re walking out he offers to drive me to my apartment since he thoughtfully picked a place that was closer to his apartment.  Unfortunately I don’t live in a city that you can just hail a cab so I decided to take him up on his offer…among other things.  He said he had to go into his apartment to get his keys.  He showed off his mediocre apartment, okay the view was amazing but this was nothing compared to what he made it seem.  He kept trying to show me his room and his king sized bed.  As deeply impressed as I was by his ability to furnish an apartment, I wasn’t that interested and wanted to get home.  I asked to use the bathroom and when I came out he called to me from his bedroom.  I walked in to find him laying on his bed naked (Castanza portrait-esq).  I was speechless, not because of his ballsy assumption that I’d want to have sex with him but that he looked so much like Peter Griffin from that episode of Family Guy where Peter’s bones disintegrate and he’s just a huge blob of fat.  I swear, the resemblance was uncanny!  He started to stretch and flex his leg to show off his assets.  He actually said, “Come feel.  I’m all muscle” and I couldn’t help but think “Under which layer of skin and fat?”.  I have nothing against overweight people but the way this guy spoke of himself you would think you were on a date with David Beckham, not the complete opposite.  As much as I enjoy awkward moments, this one needed to end.

But the journey continued.  I asked if he minded taking me home because I wasn’t feeling well, AKA was nauseous from the mental image of his naked body ingrained in my memory.  So he gets his clothes and brings them to the bathroom to dress (because being naked was ok but seeing him dress was off limits).  Then he was telling me how handy he is around the apartment and how he installed everything himself.  I inquired about the ceiling fan that was hanging from a wire and was one door slam away from crashing to the ground.  He conveniently didn’t work on that one. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, we get to the car and he puts on Nickelback and starts belting out “Never made it as a wise man, couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing”.  I was embarrassed for him.  It was mostly his pride in liking bands like Nickelback and knowing every lyric to the songs as well as the key changes.  It didn’t stop there- he informed me that he just learned how to play this gem on the guitar!  Because hearing you play it will make it sound better, right?

Peter Griffin was just a walking contradiction. This guy had cajones!  Not only did he strip naked and try to seduce me but I was able to call him out on every lie and exaggeration that came out of his mouth.  To me he screamed insecure!  In an attempt to overcompensate for his shortcomings he came off as self conscious of his appearance, his finances, his masculinity, sexual capacity, and his musical ability (or lack there of).  Note that this behavior is typical for people with low self esteem.  Masking it with a facade only goes so far.  Your true nature will always show as it did in the Family Guy episode with the real Peter Griffin and now with the fake Peter Griffin, case in point.

To the nervous daters out there, you are not alone.  No one is completely secure but the more you confront these insecurities the better chance you have of overcoming them.  Don’t let these over confident personalities fool you.  Just because issues may not be visible right away doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Like a braless girl in a see through shirt, you might be covered in fabric but we can still see your nipples.

Do: Live a naked life.  Be honest with yourself and your feelings.

Don’t: Actually get naked…especially as a surprise after the first date.  That’s one jack we don’t need popping out of the box.

A toast to living naked because eventually you will have to strip and bare all.

Stay Tuned!

-Bev