Tag Archives: relationships

Friendship Rabbit Holes

5 Jan

When I was in 8th grade, I was called into my homeroom teacher’s classroom along with my four best friends. We strutted in, knowing we were oh-so-cool, and got a lecture I’ve never forgotten.

“You girls are being mean,” Mrs. D told us. “You’re being exclusive and clicque-y and it needs to stop. You need to be nicer.”

See, my little group was that “popular” crowd of pre-teens that hung around with some high school boys (read: older siblings) and snuck out during lunch period to smoke cigarettes (newsflash: smoking’s not cool). I didn’t have any older siblings and I didn’t try a cigarette till most of the way through college, but I’d been friends with these girls for years. So I was part of them. So while my naive little self honestly thought I could be – and was – friends with everyone, that lecture during recess illustrated just how wrong I was.

Don’t get me wrong here – I wasn’t wrong about the “popular” kids being able to be friends with “everyone else”. That’s totally possible and after our budding egos were appropriately cut down, the dynamic changed noticeably.

Where I was wrong – and where I continue to stumble to this day – is the notion that I can be friends with everyone.

When I meet someone new – and we’re gonna stick to girlfriends here, since it’s most relevant to me currently – it’s pretty easy for me to jump down the Friendship Rabbit Hole.

I mean, it’s usually a lot of fun! New Friend gets to be introduced to all your other Rabbit Hole Friends. New Friend comes to girls’ nights and brunches and gym classes and sometimes even vacations.

You know what I’m talking about, right? I mean, the same thing happens when you get a new boyfriend, only then it’s called the Honeymoon Phase.

And what happens after the Honeymoon Phase? The same thing that happens once you hit the bottom of the Rabbit Hole: you’re granted a clear look at the type of person you’ve invited down there with you.

Overall, I’ve been lucky with my Friendship Rabbit Hole. Or maybe I’ve been foolish. Once I bring you down there, it’s hard for me to accept that you might not belong there after all. Hopefully you’re just as great as I initially thought and I’m thrilled to keep you! Sometimes, though, your true colors are revealed and instead of Friendship Rainbows all you have are Friendship Graveyards.

So then I have a choice. I can allow to you dwell down there with me and disappoint me over and over again. I can allow you to disrespect me and to break my trust. I can choose to make excuses for you.

Or I can kick you the fuck out of my Rabbit Hole.

It’s really disappointing when someone doesn’t meet my Rabbit Hole Standards. That’s never the desired outcome and when it happens with more frequency (as it has recently), it makes me doubt my own judgment.

So here it is, one of my 2012 Life Goals: Upholding the Standards of My Friendship Rabbit Hole. No more excusing the girl who forgets to offer support because she’s “spacey.” No more overlooking the discomfort that comes with the girl who makes every guy into a competition. No more accepting the fair-weather friends who suddenly become too busy to be there when it’s most needed. No more 5th, 6th, 7th chances to “make it up to me.”

Be a good friend, or get the hell out of my Rabbit Hole.

Your Boyfriend’s Not Invited

17 Oct

Maybe it’s because it’s birthday season. Maybe I’ve been organizing more RSVP-needed events lately. Maybe I’ve just been attending more of them. Whatever it is, something weird has been happening…

It all started when I had my birthday party a few weeks ago. A close friend of mine sent in her affirmative RSVP … and included her boyfriend. I’d met this particular boyfriend just twice, though they’d recently moved in together. In what I think is an understandable reaction, I was pretty put off by this presumption. He hadn’t been invited, nor did he actually know any of the other guests attending – including me!

He ended up being out of town and, anyway, my birthday party was an absolute blast. I’m sure I’d have had just as much fun had he attended.

But then it happened again. And again. And lately, every organized event has culminated in some girlfriend being unable or unwilling to leave her boyfriend at home!

Here’s the thing – he wasn’t invited. Not only was he not invited, but he also doesn’t know any of the other people going. On top of those things, these are Reservation Required events – random people can’t just tag along, even if the random people are serious boyfriends.

But you know what the real problem here is? It’s not that these girls have become units with their boyfriends – something that inherently drives me nuts. It’s the presumptuousness of it all!

Living arrangements and relationship status makes no difference, really, though the pattern as of late has been the girl with the newly-moved-in-boyfriend.

If you lived with your parents and you were invited to a birthday party, would you bring them along without asking? Do you automatically invite your roommates everywhere you’re asked, even if they have never met the other parties?

Even when you have a friend new to town and you want to introduce her to all your amazing, wonderful, engaging friends – don’t you first ask if it’s ok that you bring her?

The thing that upsets me – no, it actually enrages me! – is the presumption attached to the “Oh, I’m bringing so-and-so.”

So, friends, please – when you get an invitation and it doesn’t have some version of “the more the merrier,” go ahead and ask whether it’s ok if you bring someone else.

The Never-Had-A-Boyfriend Red Flag

14 Jul

If you read this blog regularly (which I admit is difficult since I don’t update it regularly), you’ve probably figured out that I haven’t had a boyfriend since I started it. If you know me personally, you probably know that I’ve never actually had a boyfriend. At least, not a serious one. I’m certainly an expert at first and second dates and I’ve had a few guys for whom I’ve had feelings of a relatively serious nature and sometimes those feelings have even been mutual! But I’ve never referred to a guy as my boyfriend and while I refer to several people in my past as “guys I’ve dated,” I don’t have any exes.

For the most part, I’m ok with this. At 16, when I hadn’t so much as kissed a boy, I thought something was wrong with me. At 21, when I’d nearly completed college entirely single and had yet to have sex for the first time, I questioned myself. For the first few years after college, I wondered why no one wanted to date me. I wondered what was still wrong with me that I hadn’t had a boyfriend yet.

Now, at 26, I’m ready for a relationship and I’m having some issues finding one. But I’ve come a long way in the last 10 years and I’ve finally realized that not having had a serious relationship – yet – doesn’t mean anything. It’s been a while since I’ve had any pangs of that gut-wrenching insecurity that makes me question myself – that makes me wonder, What’s wrong with me?

Yesterday, I read this post about how only you can make yourself happy. How a relationship – romantic or any other – doesn’t have the power to give you the security and the happiness that you want and deserve. As I read it, I felt like I was reading my own thoughts on the same topic – minus the painful breakup. I considered myself lucky to have learned that lesson without having to go through heartache.

Then, after dinner with my mom last night, we were standing in Union Square, not yet done chatting for the night. My mom was telling me about her close friend, Patti, who’s “not in a good place.” At 45, Patti is a bit younger than my mom, divorced and single, and really frustrated with it. Patti has a lot of hangups and unreasonable standards; she also doesn’t want to date any widowers, though she’s ok with divorced men. I made a comment to my mom that it sounded like Patti would prefer the unrealistic ideal of, at 45, finding a man who had never been married, employed people to do things he could do himself, and didn’t own a pair of flip-flops. I laughed about it with my mom until she said:

“If I met a man who’d never been married by 45, that would be a huge red flag. Clearly something is wrong with him.”

Suddenly, the tone shifted. Why, I asked, was this a red flag? What exactly does it say about a man if he has not yet made a lifetime commitment to a woman? Wouldn’t it be worse if he’d taken the vows and then broken them?

“Well, ok,” my mom backtracked a bit. “As long as he’s had long-term, serious relationships, then that’s fine. I guess he wouldn’t have to have been married.”

But I pushed further.

“What if,” I asked, “the man in question kept meeting women with the intent of forming a serious relationship and, after several months, realized it was not going where he wanted? Should he stay in the relationship for a year and a half for the sake of being able to say he’s had a long-term, serious relationship?”

My mom looked taken aback. I’d brought up a point she’d clearly never considered; I even surprised myself as I continued:

“At what age does it become a red flag, anyway? By 30? 45? Does never having had a serious relationship make a man – or anyone – less worthy of having one at all?”

A look came over my mom’s face that appeared to be a mix of confusion and also sudden understanding. She’d walked into a minefield: Her 26-year-old daughter has never had a serious relationship and she’s just been declaring that a red flag for men (and people) over a certain age. Well, shit.

I was getting a little worked up and we were on the corner of 14th street, so it wasn’t the place to continue the discussion. But last night, for the first time in a very long time, I was riddled with insecurity and doubt. I found myself lying in bed questioning what could possibly be wrong with me that I am well on my way to embodying this Giant Red Flag called Never Been in a Serious Relationship. It occurred to me the way I figured out that I have to make myself happy before I can let someone else into my life – without actually letting someone into my life – was wrong.

The no-boyfriend-insecurity is something I’ve worked really hard on overcoming, but it’s a fragile triumph (clearly). I wonder –  if everyone has to start somewhere, at what point is it considered too late to start? And what then? I’ll be 27 in a little over two months and even if at that point I’ve met a great guy I really like, it won’t be serious at that point. Is my Red Flag growing bigger, then? Am I less worthy of a committed, serious relationship – something I very much want eventually – because I’ve never had one?

I guess my real question is: Since when did long-term relationships become pre-requisites for long-term relationships?

TTMO: Bruno Mars Needs to Move On and So Do You

3 Mar

Breakups are hard. They are really sad and heartbreaking. For girls and guys alike (well, “guys” being my brother), being dumped can and does bring waves of self-doubt, insecurity, hopelessness, and that dreaded, awful, unanswerable question of, “What’s wrong with me?”.

Inspired by endless friends’ breakups, several sites ostensibly for single (as in, not married) women, as well as every single radio station’s inclination to play Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” in such a repetitive manner that I’m actually starting to hate him as an artist, I bring you:

TTMO: TIME TO MOVE ON.

Knowing when it’s TTMO is sometimes a huge challenge, but lucky for anyone struggling with the concept, there are countless lists, suggestions, and articles to supposedly guide you through the process. Redacted Guy over at Lemondrop.com tells you how he’s done it a few times, but offers few platitudes. However, he does arrive at a “Halfsies Metric” which suggests you can be sad and “not over it” for half of the time the relationship lasted. He says,

“If you were just dating someone for a little bit, even if you really were crazy about him, and you broke up, you don’t get to whine about it for longer than the relationship actually lasted.

Perhaps there’s our metric. You dated for two months? You get like a month. Let’s go halfsies here. A year-long relationship gives you a six month Whine & Complain For Free card. If the relationship was less then [sic] a month, really, keep the moaning to yourself.”

That’s fair, I think. Other tips could include any of the following:

  • He has a new, serious, long-term girlfriend.
  • He is engaged/married.
  • You never actually went on a date.
  • He’s in love with your best friend.
  • He makes out with other girls. In front of you.

These are all crystal clear signs that he’s moved on and you should, too. At the risk of sounding insensitive, why do you even want to be with a guy who does all these things? Well, I’ll tell you. YOU DON’T! You (the “you” here being any girl or guy in the entire world) owe yourself some self-respect and you deserve someone who will treat you like the amazing person you are.

Actually, another idea is to listen to Bruno Mars’ “Grenade”, let it sink in how fucking pathetic he sounds, and do the exact opposite. Which would be: Stop whining and move on.

If you’re not familiar with the song, let me recap it for you. It goes like this:

Bruno Mars is in unrequitedly in love with a chick who takes him for granted. Actually, she just walks all over him. And he needs to sing about how sad he is about it and how she just throws everything he gives her in the trash. (My favorite line is when he belts out so emotionally, “Tossed it in the trash YES YOU DIIIIID!“). He’s talking about all his love. Clearly, she doesn’t love him back. Now, she may be a bitch for leading him on, but mother of god sweet baby jesus, Bruno Mars you need to move the fuck on. Your moping makes me sick. It’s not romantic to tell a girl you’d catch a grenade, throw your hand on a blade, jump in front of a train, go through all this pain, take a bullet to your brain, and DIE FOR HER when she could give two shits about you. No, that’s not romantic, it’s nauseating.

So, all you recent dumpees, broken-hearted souls, I implore you to focus on the future – mourn the loss of the relationship however you need to and then move on. Please don’t listen to Bruno Mars and continue on a self-pitying path to mopey-ville, because his crippling inability to move on is enough for us all.

Family Dynamics: Part Two of Definitely a Million

22 Apr

I had dinner with my mom and Alex on Tuesday night. (Unrelated: We went to a poetry reading with Meryl Streep, Matt Dillon, Gabriel Byrne, and Sting…to name a few. And we stood next to Alec Baldwin for a while. No big deal.) We went to the poetry thing first and then had dinner after and of course my mom used this time to inform us both that she and Bill will not be getting married in June. Now they’re thinking Columbus Day.

The wedding date – or lack thereof – is not the point, though. I’m stressed enough at work right now to deal with trying to figure out when to prepare myself for this new part of my family becoming legal. What really struck me was a few things Alex said and the way she said them.

I’ve said from the beginning that I felt she and I are eerily similar. Maybe it’s about being the oldest child, the oldest girl, and having a single parent. She mentioned that role automatically comes with feeling responsible for your younger siblings and maybe it does for everyone but for us it definitely goes deeper. There’s more of a need to walk the lines between child and parent and yourself and unfortunately but inevitably a lot of times the “yourself” part gets thrown to the side.

What I noticed the most, though, was the way she talked about her mom’s death and her dad. It reminded me of the way I often talk about my dad. It reminded me so much of this that I was actually wrenched into that world of hurt and had to chew on ice to avoid feeling totally uncomfortable and anxious.

Alex actually said, “I’ve spent so long hoping he’d become the parent I wanted him to be and I have to accept that it’s just never going to happen.”

First, it’s shocking and impressive and also sad to me that she’s able to say that at 20. Second, ditto.

Third, though, is that the tone in her voice when she uttered those words was all too familiar. It’s that steely, resilient, almost defiant tone that I think is very subtle except to those who know you well and to those who have the same tone. The tone has so much hurt in it, it becomes neutral. It’s years of practiced, matter-of-fact, level-headed, pragmatic manipulations of emotions that makes it easy to drop a casual reference to her mother’s death. Or to my dad’s rejection. Or to her dad’s emotional unavailability. Or to my dad’s emotional unavailability.

It struck me – it felt physical, you know? – when I realized she had the tone. I recognized and it was both comforting and scary at the same time. Comforting because clearly there is a point at which the pain we’ve both experienced converges.

Scary for the same reason. Even as I articulate this, I become more aware of how isolated I have been in my own hurt and somehow that isolation has become a comfort. If no one can relate, then it’s easier to ignore it. And not feel it.

Suddenly, someone in my life takes the same tone as I do when discussing parental relationships and experiences and the pain and hurt and anger and confusion that accompany them. I’m determined to make this into a distinctly positive aspect of my life, but I can’t help but think it’d be a hell of a lot easier if I didn’t recognize that tone.

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