Due to a cautious father, I was always taught the safety of having an exit plan. I learned quickly that when walking into any space, you should always be sure to mark the exit, as well as what people would be easiest to push out of your way if it becomes a survival of the fittest kind of thing. The more I would search for my impromptu exit plan the easier they were to find.
It eventually became a game. When we entered a room we would see who could come up with a plan first. I started creating one for every situation… friends, play dates, sleepovers. However, it was turning into a kill switch for relationships rather than keeping me safe.
I would start developing these “exit plans” on the first date. If this turned into a relationship, what was the best way to get out? How could I get up and leave this date without causing a scene? Was heading to the “bathroom of no return” (a move I unfortunately used a lot) the way to go tonight?
By creating these exit plans early on, I wasn’t letting myself try. I was running away before I could discover if the person I was with was someone I was willing to get hurt for. Although I was constantly dating people, I was always alone. And as silly as it may sound I didn’t understand why.
It took a persistent guy for me to realize what I was doing. I hadn’t been used to guys actually wanting to see me more than once or getting to know me for that matter. After years of hiding behind intense amounts of sarcasm, I got used to not being approached. Even if I was approached, the other party usually lost interest pretty quick. This guy, however, stopped me in my tracks by asking me what my problem was and if I wasn’t offended after that last text could I please call him so we could figure it out.
So I called him, and he listened…and I mean actually listened. He didn’t just add random “yes’s or uh-huh’s”… he heard what I was saying and responded back appropriately. The ending result was that I was afraid to let anyone get close, so I created the idea of a relationship kill switch to avoid the messy stuff (having actual feelings). I know, you’ve heard this before and I promise there is a point.
He was the first boy I gave a chance. And after taking that one step, I threw myself into that dark bleak pit that love sometimes is. I got hurt and it sucked…a lot. But you know what I learned from that messy situation? 1. You shouldn’t free fall into anything without testing the waters first and 2. I was okay. Even though it hurt and I cried a lot, I was okay.
Now you’re probably like, “Okay great Courtney, but you promised you were going to show me how to have an exit plan.” Well yeah, hold on, I’m getting there.
I don’t want you to be like me, too afraid to even try to like someone. But I do want you to be cautious, surprisingly there is quite a bit of grey area between being completely closed off and diving in with open arms. So let’s get down to it:
Step 1: Assess the situation. I’m not talking about making countless pro/con list, because although that helps sometimes i’ts best to not over think this type of thing. You need to go on a couple of dates, hang out, get to know this person. Figure out what they are about, and what you want. It’s important to know what they want, but right now we’re focusing on your needs. (I promise it’s okay to be selfish.)
Step 2: Figure out your options. Do you want to be with this person? I’m not asking if this is your forever, I’m asking if you want to be with this person right now. Do they make you happy? Or maybe you just like having fun with this person as a friend. So now is when you need to talk to the person, find out where you stand and where you can go. You can write it out if you need to but don’t go too crazy though. Just figure out the paths you can go with this person… and if you even want to go down any paths with them.
Step 3: Make a decision. The art to having a great exit plan is deciding on which way is the best fit at the time, not what could be an ideal plan in like say two months. So now you need to actually decide what you want to do: Do you want to be romantically with this person? Do you want to just be friends? Or, do you not want them in your life at all? Creating an exit plan isn’t all about leaving, it’s knowing the best route for you to start your journey on.
Photo found on http://www.clintcatalyst.com/blog/quick-pick-up-slow-head
I’ve been holding on to a lot of baggage this year. And not the pretty Louis Vuitton dufflebags, I’m talking ugly, old, ratty, bulging suitcases of the nut jobs I have dated. Apparently, I have this problem with letting go of my past? Not sure what that’s all about.
But like the start of fall, I just woke up one morning with nothing. It was like all of the guys I’ve dated (which is quite a lot for anyone keeping track) were gone and I could start anew. So that day, I cut my hair and dyed it red. A tradition that had followed me since I was 13 (although the colors and length have varied).
I’ve always been a big believer that when you’re ready to let go, you can and will. But until that moment, the moment when you are okay with actually being alone, it’s not going to happen. I had my first test a few weeks ago when an ex called for a late night booty call. Disregarding the fact that I was halfway through another pint of Cherry Garcia, on episode five of Desperate Housewives and already in my jammies (clearly not in shape for a booty call) I told him, without hesitating, that I was all set. And for the record, added that I would appreciate it if we were friends, but was not interested in rekindling anything between the sheets.
After a couple more nights with my two favorite boys, and plenty of fall premiers, I cleaned up my act. I made it clear that I was not interested in sexual relations with any past flings/boyfriends/FWB …anything. I’m moving onto bigger and better things..and also nicer guys.
Step 1: Accept that the past is the past. That you can’t change people’s feelings toward you or what happened. If you wronged someone, and feel the need to then certainly right the wrong but just remember you probably wronged them for a reason (i.e. you heart wasn’t in it). I know that there is always that safety you go back to, but you and I both know there is a reason things didn’t work out. So stop “grabbing coffee” with that person and start working on yourself.
Step 2: Do something new. Join a new group, add a new class, hang out with different people. The more change the better. It’s hard to get over someone when things are the same, so add something new to your daily/weekly/hourly routine.
Step 3: Tell yourself it is okay to be alone. I hate being alone, therefore, I surround myself with people through out the day to avoid it. But no matter how many people I would be with during the day time, I was always alone at night. And it sucks. Sometimes you just want a warm body next to you for comfort. But over the last month (since I’ve been on my own) I’ve become okay with being alone at night. That’s what body pillows and electric blankets are for. As nice as it would be to have someone near me, I’m fine with just having me. I can admit that even though it’s been a rough seven months, I know I’ll be okay and I know that I am loveable. I don’t need some scum bag who dumped me in my bed to remind me of that.
Photo found on http://thetruemeaningoflife.tumblr.com/page/35
I’m usually bad in dating/relationships scenarios because I tend to listen to everybody else’s comments or worry what they may be thinking, which is really dumb. So everyone should just not do that.
In reality, no one is going to care about what is happening in your relationship. If you are an overly PDA couple they may gawk or give you a disgusted face but that is about it (excluding abusive relationships…then I truly hope someone will step in).
But, like most people, I assumed everyone was following my life story (similar to Jen and Brad’s saga) and making their own little comments on everything that happened in my dating life. Yes, in my mind it came with a laugh track and it’s own narrated version.
Recently though, I’ve started ignoring it. I’ve realized it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks as long as you are happy. It’s not something that I have to think about when I am with the person I’m dating either because I usually forget there are other people around us (don’t worry I’m not overly PDA though).
Tuning out the white noise of what you think other people are saying isn’t easy but at the right moment with the right person, you’ll just forget it ever existed.
But, until that moment comes along, here are some steps you can work on to lower the volume down a bit.
Step 1: Focus on what is important- sometimes the white noise is trying to tell us something. If you are more concerned with others’ opinions than how you feel, it might be time to have a tiny talk with your honey.
Step 2: Talk it out- If something is really bugging you, turn to your friends and ask them if they think there is a hidden red flag or some reason for you to be concerned. Chances are it’s nothing but will at least help to calm your nerves.
Step 3: Have fun- Stressing out about what other people think is a losing game. The best way to forget about it is by having fun, focusing on an activity that you both love to take your mind off of it. Soon enough you’ll forget the white noise was ever there.
Photo found on http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=220582587957248&set=a.208822945799879.65279.100000165245220&type=1
A wise person once said that for every little knot you untie, a bigger one is formed.
Well, right now my life hit the mother of all knots. I thought I had everything under control and all my knotted messes were figured out. Apparently that isn’t the case.
We get to a place where everything seems to fit perfectly, but you only need one wrong-sized piece to send you crumbling. And that is just what happened.
Okay, so I’m bad at dealing with things – the absolute worst in fact, I tuck them away in a nice little box marked “Do Not Open or Death!” Without going into details, it was opened (on accident) and I freaked out and completely shut down. (For the record this is a metaphorical box.) I was on a date with a guy I have been seeing, and basically I was done after that. It wasn’t his fault – just bad timing.
Every event in our lives affects us, regardless of whether we want it to or not. If you think about a piece of string as your life, each time there is a horrible event a knot is formed. Now, sometimes you’re able to untie all the knots with no problem. But most of the time, you can only get to the surface knots, making everything else appear as if it’s fine. Well since I only worked on the surface knots, when the biggest snarly knot was being picked at, I fell apart.
And it’s okay to put a hold on untangling the bad stuff. But if you don’t deal with it then sooner or later it will rear it’s ugly little head. Please promise me crushes, you will start to work through your knots.
Step 1: Recognize it happened. When bad things happen, it’s easier to just pretend like they didn’t. “It was all in my imagination,” you say, “never happened.” Except it did happen, it’s real, and it will always be with you. You need to admit that or else no one will be able to help you.
Step 2: Get help. I, for one, am not a fan of professional help but you also have friends, significant others, parents and cousins. Ask for their help or maybe just their ears. Talking it out to someone you trust can be just as helpful as a stranger.
Step 3: Accept that it happened. You can’t change what happened, as much as you would like to…you just can’t. Until we figure out a way to time travel you are stuck with it. But you can make sure it doesn’t change you. Just because someone hurt you, or something tragic occurred, doesn’t mean you need to change your happy self. Don’t let anyone get the best of you! You need to show them that no matter what happens you are strong and they will never win.
Photo found on http://www.google.com/imgres?q=heart+shaped+knot&um=1&hl=en&biw=1366&bih=667&tbm=isch&tbnid=53qsj-9BbcTIcM:&imgrefurl=http://www.handmade-jewelry-club.com/2011/02/lets-knot-our-way-through.html&docid=axVqN7K1tqIENM&w=500&h=375&ei=O4ONTsudIdOitgecra2rDA&zo
When I was the only girl in my 7th grade home room that had yet to be asked to the semi-formal, my mom rubbed my head and comforted me by saying that the boys are just intimated by how smart and pretty you are -they don’t want to get rejected so they pick safe bets. Although it helped me feel better back then, I later realized there wasn’t any kind of intimidation factor, and the guys in my town were just clearly oblivious to my obvious charm.
Since my awkward early teen years, I have been asked out but I have also been the ask-er out-er (more often than not). It took me a few years to realize that if someone is interested in you then they will talk to you. Intimidation really isn’t going to play a factor in that.
So because the guys I wanted to ask me out weren’t doing it, I asked them out. It was nerve-wracking at first. In the beginning, I probably used texting/AIM more often than I should have. But I’d like to think I have it down to a science – well, an English kind of science because I was never that good in Biology.
Step 1: Find a guy you want to ask out. Start paying more attention to people in dining halls, classrooms and even those near you in the computer lab. Personally, I would suggest going for someone you don’t really know for the first few rounds. Granted, I doubt any great nice guy would turn down any of our fabulous readers.
Step 2: Work your confidence. As silly as it may sound, flirting gives you confidence. So while getting to know this new guy, flirt yourself up. Make a joke about how slow your commute is, touch his arm to help direct him to the new library. Use what your mama gave you. Not only will it make him more attracted to you, but you’ll be working up your own confidence in the process.
Step 3: Ask him (or her) out. I’ve done this one of two ways: 1. I waited until talking to him on at least three separate occasions. Then when I felt we had enough of a connection and would be able to carry on a conversation, I asked if he wanted to grab coffee or get a drink sometime. He would say yes. It was scary, but in the end I got what I wanted. 2. The second way was more impulsive. After flirting with this guy for an hour or so during one of those awkward between class periods, I casually asked if he wanted to grab lunch. He said he would love to.
Remember, asking someone out doesn’t have to mean a fancy dinner. Just some initial one-on-one hang out time is all you’re really after. Why not make it a casual setting for starters and then move from there.
No one ever got what they wanted by just wishing it to happen. So try and ask that cute, nice guy down the hall from you to be your dinner date. The worse that happens is he says no. I promise no rejection parade will walk down the hall and point at you. And if he says no, all you need to say is thanks anyway and walk away.
At least you put yourself out there. In the end that is all that matters.
During the late fall period all animals start to gather everything they need to hibernate for the winter. Scarves from charlotte russe, nuts from their favorite trees, honey (obviously without getting stung) and of course that cute boy from Shakespeare literature.
That’s right folks, we have now entered relationship season. Let the hand holding commence.
Relationship season is a beautiful thing when you have someone, it’s the perfect time to bubble yourself off and enjoy the beautiful falling snow. However, relationship season sucks when you are single.
Not only do you want to kick every high school student who thinks it’s adorable when her boyfriend pushes her in the snow right in front of you, you also wish to run through every couple holding hands. Similar to red rover, except you win ever time.
Don’t get me started on old couples, young couples, in love couples…basically any couple that isn’t fighting is on your radar. It turns you into the love Grinch, just probably less hairy.
And it’s okay, I promise, I’ve been there. That feeling of utter horrible-ness that you missed out on the big pair off of ’11, it’s not true. You didn’t miss out on anything, but here is how to deal with all of those mushy couples (and why it isn’t appropriate to shout boo when they kiss under the misletoe).
Step 1: Start hanging out with your single friends. I love all my friends equally, but sometimes hanging out with a couple just makes you feel worse. So get a bunch of your favorite ladies and head out to dinner/dancing/a movie (really anything). I pinky promise you will feel better.
Step 2: Ignore the obvious. I know it is hard to not focus on something that is everywhere. So why not point your focus elsewhere, say finals? Family? maybe your own christmas list? Don’t let thinking about what you don’t have get you down, because let’s be real you have plenty of amazing things in your life that others don’t.
Step 3: Stop worrying. You will meet someone as fabulous as you, it just might not be this matching up season.
Photo found on http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=246109795451507&set=a.187261381336349.48526.186632838065870&type=1&theater
I’ve noticed about 95% of my friends recently announced a new relationship on Facebook. Normally something I wouldn’t notice because people always pair off around this time of the year. But just so happens I’ve been keeping track, and it seems like a week of successful dates now constitutes a relationship in my little network of Facebook friends.
What happened to taking time to date? Am I the only girl who still needs to be wooed? Yes I really did just say wooed.
I know we’ve touched upon dating a lot, and how it seems to be going out of style (the way I wish rompers would..). But I think it’s an important part to remember in the grand scheme of things. The whole point of dating is getting to know the other person, finding out if their needs match yours…if you are even compatible. It important to establish some kind of base line with the other person, if you are just after a label chances are you should not be jumping into anything.
I know plenty of people who rush into relationship after relationship, and yes sometimes it does work out and yes you will get to know the person. But why not take some time, put down your phone/iPad/laptop, and get to know the person over dinner.
The build up is what makes it special. When you finally agree to take that next step into relationshiphood, remember the wait makes it better, that way you know how significant that person is in your life.
Step 1: Talk about it- if you are ready and want to be in a relationship then put it out there. There is no sense in dating someone who is not looking for the same thing you are. As a serial dater I know this, you don’t want to waste someone’s time or have your time wasted. So let your thoughts be known!
Step 2: Get to know them- how would you expect to be in a relationship with someone you don’t know? And before you can even throw it at me, I realize being in a relationship you can still get to know the person…but shouldn’t there be a time period when you get to know the basics. Hmmmm, maybe they could call it dating?
Step 3: Don’t compare- If you compare your dating life to anyone elses I can guarantee you will only find disappointment. Every situation is different, every person is different…go at your own speed and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
Last night – well technically this morning after getting back to my apartment – I laid out on the floor, put on Adele and cried. Why you ask? I’m not sure, just felt the need to have a minor pity party. Normally something I wouldn’t be too concerned with, except I have been crying myself into oblivion for the past week, watching really bad romantic comedies – the kind that make you hate your life and attempt self sabotage (not suicide just late night booty calls with people you should not have in your phone).
I’m setting up the pity, so I can party. The party has a short guess list – just me, limited food and beverage options (white wine and chocolate frosting) and the entertainment is pretty narrow consisting of songs that make you cry and movies that make you doubt your existence as a single person.
I know I’m not alone, we all go through those dark times where getting out of your bed is the hardest task you will ever be faced with. And seeing people on a day-to-day basis is starting to make you run for cover. It happens and once you have one little pity party, it just balloons out from there.
But, like coach says in New Girl, “Stop it! Stop it!!!” Snap out of your funk, no one likes a Debbie downer and the longer you give in to your doubting ways the longer you will just assume it’s okay to act like a sad hermit crab…and it really isn’t. It’s just not healthy. So starting today, you, me and anyone else out there who is throwing themselves a sad flag party is going to quit it. We’re going to – deep breath – go out there and meet people. Talk to people instead of hiding away and talking to our friends in romantic comedies (well more like throwing things at their face and screaming, “WHY?!” ….same thing). No more feeling sorry for yourself – it’s fall..and we need to start getting a little bit happier. Got it?
Step 1: Throw away all left over food and beverage from pity party. Well maybe finish the wine if there is some left because that really shouldn’t go to waste.
Step 2: Remove all romantic comedy paraphernalia or anything that could snap you back in to your funk. This may include, but is not limited to: pictures of Ex’s, Ex’s Facebook profiles (hide them now before you finish this article and then come back and finish reading), the cat sweatshirt your grandma sent you last Christmas and really anything that could make you a tad bit sad needs to be hidden under your bed (or in your closet..anywhere out of sight will do).
Step 3: Go to your local book store and buy Bossy Pants. It’s funny and will make you laugh so hard you may pee. It will also give you some inspiration to stop laying in bed all day. (Bossy Pants may be substituted with any funny book you can think of/enjoy -it’s just my favorite get me out of a rut novel.)
Step 4: Join the real world. Text a friend to hang out, go for a walk among the living or head to the mall (my happy place). Do something where you are around people and can actually interact with them.
Being part of a pity party for one is not the ideal way to spend your first weeks of school, so get out there and join a club or talk to someone new in your class. Just remember to have some fun.
Photo found on http://whilethecitysleeps.punt.nl/
The most important things in life are good food, good friends, and even better…lovers. In my short, yet intense, last year I learned quite a bit about that last part and how exactly I manage to screw it up all the time.
Before last year, I wasn’t what you would call experienced in the dating world. Yes, I had gone on a date or two (literally…) and yes, I had the crushes you lust over for months (only to find out it’s better to stay just friends), but actual dating experiences? Zip.
All of which changed immensely in November, from the first date on, I was on a mission. A mission for what I’m not entirely sure. Regardless, I became a pro at the first date. Any dates past that though, didn’t really turn out that hot.
Maybe it was my reckless abandonment, or the fact that I believed every guy I met was my soul mate. But it seemed that whenever I got started on something (more than three dates) it always ended in disaster.
You see, this is what I figured out last night… but with pancakes.
Pancakes are fairly easy to cook right? you pour the batter, let it heat up and bubble, then flip. If you give it just enough heat, and pay attention to it, it comes out perfect.
My pancakes never come out perfect, they usually start as circles and end up as burnt triangles.
I can’t trust that the pancake is actually cooking once flipped, because I can’t see the bubbleness. So I cut into it, making it an ugly mess, usually cook it too long, causing intense burns and smoke. Then when I have destroyed it I flip it on my mom’s old bowl-dish.
After completing the process two or three more times, I turn off the burner, race to my room to stop the beeping and begin to lather my sorry excuse for pancakes in syrup. All the while comparing them to the perfection of my mom’s.
But, what I realized is that my pancakes will never be my mom’s (eventually they will be better), and the more I practice not mutilating them the better they will look (inside and out).
There are about a million recipes for making pancakes, and even though you follow them to a T it doesn’t mean they’ll come out looking perfect. You need to adapt for each pancake, and eventually you’ll create your own recipe that works perfectly (or close to it) for you. Just don’t give up.
(Disclaimer: I apologize for all of the semi negative topic posts lately, but I was always told to write about what you know and right now, this is what I know)
About a month ago, an old flame (he doesn’t get to be called an ex) came into my life through Google +. He commented on my posts, and I replied being my usual flirtatious and witty self. From there, we moved on to texting and with every reply I would get more butterflies. Along with a sinking feeling that it wouldn’t last.
Next was Facebook. I had deleted him after he walked out on me with no further communication. After re-friending him, we quickly seemed to pick up where we had left off with awkward jokes, using “dork” way too many times in one conversation and him pushing my buttons…in a good way.
But there were a few HUGE flashing signs, like the fact that he was questioning why I would want to start hanging out again after he was such an ass (clear sign I’m going down the wrong path). But for some reason I just couldn’t let go; I’ve never met someone who gave me butterflies the way he did. And although I know it would be a ridiculous idea to ever start something up (which he probably wouldn’t even go for) I have subconsciously been trying. Hiding behind my good intentions of just being a friend.
So where does this leave me? Walking down a lonely road with friends saying they told me so? Yea…pretty much.
The worst part of all of this is that I’ve been passing up a really nice guy just so I can still talk to a jerk who hurt me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me either.
Sometimes it’s harder to let go of what could’ve been, giving up any hope. With a relationship you get closure, and you know you at least tried. But this, which was nothing, has no closure. And with every time I talk to him it’s like I open up another cut that was almost healed.
But I’m feeling a wind of change coming soon, one that involves me finally not thinking about him…especially since it’s been 10 months now, and we were never even in a relationship.
So this article is my closure. I don’t want to cut all ties, but I can’t keep trying to make him feel something that he doesn’t want to. And it’s not going to happen until I tell myself to make it happen. Abandoning all hope has never been a strong suit of mine.
This time, I’m going be learning along with you.
Step 1: Seek closure. Talk about it, find out where you stand with the other person. Create a comfortable open line of communication where you can each say your peace and end the ever lasting dot dot dots.
Step 2: Wallow. Sometimes you need to have that night where you watch those horribly stupid romantic comedies while eating ice cream and frozen reeses and crying into your best friend’s shoulder. And it’s okay to have that, because it sucks to lose someone you care about. So cry, get angry, belt out Rolling in the Deep and have your moment.
Step 3: Move on. Easier said than done right? It’s not going to happen right away, it may take days, weeks, months…but eventually you will move on. But eventually you’ll see someone from a distance in a small cafe, maybe you’ll catch each other’s eyes and smile…who knows? Just make sure you open up your heart a little bit so you can let the love in.
Photo found on http://twitpic.com/5zig68