Had I played my cards differently…

So, my date seemed to go really well last week.  I really really like her- she’s smart, interesting, driven, and seems really nice.  At the end of the date, she asked me for a second one, and we kissed goodnight!  It was amazing.  The whole next day at work, I was all smiles and school-girly, annoying excitement.  But it’s been a week since the date, and though we’ve been texting a bunch, we haven’t been able to make our schedules sync up.  We’re planning to go to dinner later this week, so I’m optimistic.

Here’s the thing though- I know it’s dumb, but as time passes, I get more and more unsure of what I thought I felt on the date.  Does she really like me, or was I misreading the signs?  I’ve been obsessing over stupid little things, which I know most people do when they like someone. Should I wait another hour to text?  Why didn’t she respond with a question? It seemed like she was into the kiss, but was she really? I’ve gone over the details over and over again, but no matter how I play it, I realize I don’t have many of the facts. No amount of literary analysis of the word choice in her texts will tell me exactly what’s going on in her head. I guess I’ve been out of the game for a while, and this whole meeting someone new and being totally unsure of how they feel about you is making me more anxious than it used to.  I just wish this could be a little easier.

I keep wondering, looking at my recent dates – both successful or not, if the end result would have changed if I’d “played my cards differently.”  Through some much regretted FB stalking, I found out that F (my recent 1 date to one night stand) now has a gf.  She’s obviously not right for me for a multitude of reasons, but until I found that out, I assumed that she hadn’t texted me back after our one night stand because she was rebounding, not because she didn’t like me.  And again, I know that she’s not someone I really want to see/sleep with/go on a date with again, but I can’t help wondering why she didn’t like me. I mean, I thought our date went well, and I’m a pretty cool person and all… If I’d have been more direct or less direct or if I hadn’t slept with her on the  first date or if I’d looked prettier or if I presented myself differently, would things have been different?  Was there a magical text I could have sent that would have made her like me, and did I send the wrong one instead?  While the stakes were low with me and F, (it’s still nice if someone likes you, but clearly we were wrong for each other), the stakes feel much higher with M.  I really like M in a way I haven’t liked someone in a while.  I know that if she doesn’t like me, it will be no big deal and I’ll get over it and move on, but I feel like there’s a potential for something and I don’t want to screw it up.

Years ago, I first met my (now) good friend E. at a halloween party, and I tried to flirt with her. Things seemed to be going well, but then this other girl came along.  The other girl was way more aggressive than I was, and though I’d thought E was into me originally, I wasn’t sure.  So I backed off and let the girl cut in and land E.  I’d always assumed that E had been way more into the other girl than me, that we were just better as friends, that I wasn’t her type and blah blah blah.  E and that girl dated for 5 months.  A few weeks ago, E and I had a night out and had a few drinks.  For the first time in the 2 years we’ve known each other, the night of our first meeting came up and I learned E’s true perspective on the situation.  Turns out, she had been interested in me.  More interested in me, in fact, than in that other girl that she’d ended up dating.  She’d tried to signal to me to cut in, but I’d totally missed it.  Had I been willing to fight for her and compete with the other girl, maybe E and I would have dated instead.  That isn’t my style, and I know now that we’re better as friends, but I wonder how my life would have been different had I dated E.  Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten back together with my ex- a decision I came to regret.  Or maybe E and I wouldn’t be friends now.  I’ll never know because that’s how life works- you can’t go back and change things.  Sometimes you only have one chance.

You can (and will) go crazy in an instant if you try to second guess every small decision you made or every opportunity you may have missed.  I don’t know if I believe in fate, and I’ve been having trouble trusting that everything will work out like it should. Even though I’m only 26, I sometimes feel like one day I’ll have missed my opportunities and be single forever.  I know that’s stupid and if a friend told me that I would look at her incredulously and shake my head at her ridiculousness. I’ve only been single again for a few months, and I don’t really think I’m ready for a relationship, but there’s something about the uncertainty of my life right now that is making me anxious.  I like to know where I’ll be or at least know I’ll end up happy someday.  I feel like there should be something I can do to work toward the romantic future I want, but I know there isn’t.  Sometimes, you just have to leave it up to the universe and have some faith that you’ll figure life out when you get there or when you’re ready to approach it.

At the end of the day, there are a million ways we can pursue romantic interests and a million choices we could have made differently.  Maybe they would lead to different results, but for the sake of sanity, sometimes you just have to accept the path your own.  I would hope that no matter how I do the little things at the start of a relationship- what I wear, how we meet, who asks whom on the first date, how long I wait to send a response text, etc, that if we’re really right for each other, it shouldn’t matter.  If two people are truly compatible and are both honest and true to themselves, the little choices you make won’t matter.  M seems to like me and I hope she does, but at the end of the day, I don’t know her that well and I have no idea what she’s thinking.  That’s what’s so hard about starting relationships- it’s scary to put yourself out there when you have no idea what is going on in the other person’s head.  I just have to accept that there could be a million things going on in M’s life right now and that how she’s feeling about me is completely outside of my control.  I guess I just have to be myself and hope she see’s me for the awesome, strong, intelligent, funny person I know I am.  If she doesn’t like me, I have to try not to take it personally, too.  Most of the time when someone’s been into me and I’ve not reciprocated, it’s at least partially because of where I am in my life.  Maybe she reminds me of something I hated about a recent ex, maybe I’m still in love with my ex, maybe I’m distracted by the stress of work, maybe I’m feeling insecure about myself and decide to push her away instead of risking rejection. Relationships that might have been don’t happen for a million different reasons and it’s important not to over-think them, no matter how bad the urge.  If two people are really right for each other, the other bullshit really shouldn’t matter.

So I guess what I need to do now is take my own advice – find inner confidence, be honest to who I am, chill out with the anxiety, and let the universe do it’s thing.  Blindly trusting that things beyond your control will end up ok can be one of the hardest things to do, but it is absolutely essential.  At this point in my life, I need to trust that things will work out, because worrying about it isn’t helping me or anyone else. Every day, I look at my reflection in the mirror and say “I am beautiful.  I deserve love.  I am capable of a healthy relationship.”  And a little more, every day, I begin to own, embrace, and believe in those words more and more.

Let’s Cut to the Chase Here, OK?

So I have many many updates about my night out on Saturday.  But first, I have this new mantra type thing.  It’s inspired by a post on the amazing blog Queer Fat Femme by one of my personal icons and full-sized femme goddess Bevin Branlandingham.  It is a follows “Nobody ever died of awkward.”  (Written and explained by Bevin here).  To summarize, Bevin recommends a forward, bold approach, because the worst that can happen is usually just an awkward moment, and you’ll be glad you took a chance after it’s over.  This is an idea it was easy for me to adopt as I’m a big fan of being direct, and I am quickly frustrated by bullshit.  I’d rather have someone tell me flat out that they’re not interested than invest time and energy in a pointless, endless text game.  Apparently, according to lestrology.com, this a characteristic of my zodiac sign.  While I don’t place much weight on horoscopes, in this particular aspect, it’s dead on.  I lose patience quickly when it comes to indecisiveness and uncertainty, and hate game playing with a passion.

All of which brings me to my Saturday night, during which I unintentionally explored oh so many applications of the new mantra.  It all started with my metro ride.  I was alone (since my wing-people were all busy/sick/working early on Sunday; see previous post), and I happened to notice another girl, about my age, also alone.  My gay-dar went off almost immediately.  She had longish hair and wasn’t obviously or stereotypically gay-looking, but something about her posture, her style, her attitude…. I wondered.  There were 20 minutes before the train was set to come, and we awkwardly tried to eye each other without being obvious. I tried to muster up the courage to initiate conversation, but totally failed. When the train came, we got onto the same car and she sat down in a row by herself.  I hesitated, then repeated “nobody ever died of awkward” to myself a few times and took a deep breath.  I walked over to her and asked if the seat next to her was taken.  I don’t remember what I said to being the conversation, but within a few minutes the awkwardness had faded and she seemed as eager to talk to me as I was her.  She was studying abroad in DC from Germany, it turned out, and had yet to meet an American friend (or, as I later found out, another gay-lady friend).  It came out that we were both going to the same bar, one of the few lesbian hangouts in the city, and I applauded myself for being able to spot a fellow femme. (We can tend to be invisible to the rest of the queer community, and I sometimes feel frustrated I go so unnoticed.  But I dress and act in the way that makes me feel most comfortable and most beautiful, because otherwise I feel like I’m not being true to myself.  I could write an entire post about this, but I’ll save it for another time).  Anyway, I ended up making a new friend, Sally.  Sally and I spent the whole night together, as each other’s wing-women, and had an absolute blast.  We plan to hangout again soon.

She and I went to the bar where I was supposed to meet N, and got some drinks.  A few minutes after we showed up, I spotted N sitting at the bar with a friend and went over to say hi.  The conversation was so awkward.  I didn’t know what to say, and she wasn’t really asking questions or making much of an effort.  Just a week ago, it had seemed so effortless and I remember her leaning into me, touching my arm and the small of my back and acting super into me.  This time, she didn’t seem into me at all.  The bar was still quiet, so S and I decided to head to sing some karaoke for a bit until things got going. I invited N and her friend to come, but she declined.

Had I not met the most perfect wing-woman on the metro, I’m sure I would have had no problem meeting a gay man at the karaoke bar and convincing him to help me.  I had not been there more than 5 minutes when this drunk and really jovial flamboyant guy came up to me and said “Holy titties!  You look amazing!  I just want to motorboat you!”and then turned to Sally and  asked “is this your girlfriend?”  I laughed and informed him that we were just friends, and that I was flattered that he liked my boobs so much, but that motor boating was off the table.  He walked away and his friend turned to me and said, clearly a little embarrassed by his association to the jovial drunk, “So…. THAT just happened.”  We both laughed.  Sally and I quickly made friends with the whole group, and then we all sang the Spice Girls together.  Had I been alone still, I’m sure they would have agreed to be my wing-men for a bit, so at least I know that’s still a plausible plan for some night.

Sally and I wondered back to the first bar, and as we walked in, I noticed that BOTH of the women I’ve ever slept with in DC (as I only moved here about 2 months ago) decided to show up at this particular bar.  One was my ex-gf who had dated me for 2 years while I lived in Philly (we were long distance-ish), before I ended it last April.  The other was this girl who I met online, went on one date with, and then slept with (regrettably).  She ended up being kind of a jerk, and treated me like complete crap the morning after, despite the fact that she had invited me back to her place and then insisted when I at first turned her down.  I wouldn’t have regretted sleeping with her if she hadn’t tossed me away so callously the next day.  I wasn’t necessarily interested in a relationship, but it feels super crappy to be treated with so little respect the day after.  She showed her true colors once again on Saturday since as soon as she saw me she grabbed the girl she was with and started grinding on her, glancing over furtively to see if I had noticed her.  Ugh, come on.  The world does not revolve around you, and if you can’t even manage a polite hello to a girl whose fingers have been inside your vagina, you’re clearly not worth my time.  Knowing that I deserve better doesn’t stop the sting of rejection and poor treatment, however.

Things with my ex, who despite not being right for me, is actually a really wonderful person, were not so awkward.  They were, in fact, almost pleasant.  I said hello, she said hello, we chatted for a moment and then each did our own thing.  She looked good, and I was feeling pretty horny, so I had to fight back the desire to flirt, at which I totally succeeded.  I broke up with her (not the other way around), and I know that she still has feelings there, so I knew it would be cruel and unfair to flirt with her, despite the urge.  I’m proud of myself for my good judgement and self-restraint.  I’m also really glad that we can manage to be at the same bar, each talking to other girls, and not be playing stupid jealousy games, being mean, or making things awkward.  I was worried that she’d go for some low blows (as I said in the previous post), so I’m happy to see she seems to be doing better with the breakup.  Like I said, she’s a good person, at her core, but people do stupid things sometimes when they are hurt.

But back to N.  I chatted with N on and off during the night, and tried to get her to come dance more than once.  Each time, she said she would dance later, but the current song wasn’t her jam.  After a few drinks and a few more invitations, I lost patience with the cat and mouse game we seemed to be playing and decided to cut to the chase.

“Hey, listen,” I said, leaning over to her by the bar.  “Are you into me?  Cause I’m getting mixed signals, and you can just tell me if you’re not interested.”
“I don’t know,” she responded.
“Um ok.  What does that mean exactly?  Am I not your type?”
“I don’t usually know if I’m attracted to someone unless I know them really well.”
This was bewildering to me.  Sure, sometimes an initial attraction fizzles after a lame first date, or an attraction for a long-term friend suddenly grows, but I always at least have some idea of whether I’m into a girl or not. I decided to push it one more time:
“Well, do you want to go on a date sometime and get to know each other better?” I smiled as seductively as I could and tried to look collected.
“I don’t know” she said again. “I don’t really know you well enough to know if I want to go on a date with you.”
I’m over this game, I thought.  “Text me when you decide,” I said, “I’m going back to dance.  Feel free to join!”

Maybe it’s just because I’m so straightforward myself, but I just can’t seem to understand how one could have no idea if they were attracted to someone or not. Regardless of N’s excuses, I took it to mean that she wasn’t really attracted to me (or at least not attracted enough), and that she was too afraid to tell me.  I mean, for me, understanding attraction never been completely simple, but I usually had enough of an idea to decide on a first date prospect. I love first dates; they always turn out to either be a great time or a great story.  The story may take time before it’s funny, but even the worst first dates (and sometimes especially the worst ones) can lead to hysterical laughter between friends over brunch.  I guess I’m pretty quick to give someone enough of the benefit of the doubt to go on a first date, unless, of course, there’s no attraction and I would never in a million years want to have sex with the person.  Not to be crude, but isn’t the decision dates tend to lean toward?  For me anyway, if I go on a date with you, I will spend thoe majority of it contemplating sleeping with you.  But then, I really really really really like sex and think about it almost all the time.

After that, I decided not to waste my time trying to woo N.  If she likes me, she has my number.  A coworker of mine, Coworker R, recently told me about a study that showed that people are more attracted to people who show an interest in them.  The study was far from scientific- it had women rate men based on attractiveness.  Then they told the women certain men had rated them as highly attractive, and the women rated those men higher the second time around.  But despite the shaky pseudo-science behind it, the more I think about it, the more valid it seems to be.  After N’s ambivalence, my girl boner for her totally went away.  I want to be with someone who thinks I’m sexy and who’s turned on by me.  Isn’t that part of the point? If you’re not into me in that way, let’s just be friends.  And likewise, I realized that if I feel flattered and extra willing to go on dates with people who show clear interest in me (which I do), then I should be willing to make my attractions known.  Obviously, one should not go overboard with the interest- don’t get stalkery or drop the L word too soon (nothing is a bigger turn off to me than a super early confession of love), but indicating attraction clearly and directly is generally a solid plan.

So I decided to be bold and flirt with this other girl I’d noticed earlier.  This time, being direct worked. Emboldened by some liquid courage and my own, ever present self-love, I walked right up to her.

“Hey,” I said.  “I just wanted to tell you that you’re really cute.”
“Thanks,” she said.  She smiled and told me I was pretty cute too. (We’ll refer to her as M).
We chatted for a few minutes about work and other similar get-to-know-you type small talk.
“Would you like to go on a date with me sometime?”  I felt a rush of adrenaline and surprise at my own boldness.  This whole new being upfront and direct thing seemed to be getting me answers much more quickly and less painfully than all those years of coy texting had done.  Sure, in that moment before she responded I was all full of nerves and apprehension (what if she said no?), but ripping the band-aid off now when so little was at stake would be much easier than after weeks of texting and hoping and building up an imaginary relationship in my mind. As Bevin says in the early linked to/mentioned blog post, ” the fastest way for me to get over a crush is to be rejected by them. And, really, how can you be into someone who doesn’t think you’re fabulous enough to date?”

“Yeah, I might be interested in that,” M said, smiling, and her body language seemed to indicate she was more than “maybe” interested.  She handed me her phone to put in my number, and brave, new, (drunk), confident me wrote my name as _____, the super hot girl you met at ____ bar.  While I regretted it the next morning, hoping she found it cute or humorous or anything but cocky, she didn’t seem to mind because she texted me yesterday afternoon.  We’ve been texting a bunch and are going on a dinner date tomorrow night.  I’m really excited, because she seems awesome, she’s really cute, and if the exclamation points in her texts are any indication, she’s excited about our date too.  Until next time, readers, happy/lucky flirting!

-TFF