That Didn’t Take Long: The Answer to Yesterday’s Post

I realized after a few hours of contemplation and reading that I’ve been doing things the right way all along. At the beginning of all relationships, everyone seems promising. That’s the nature of the game (assuming you’re making those initial choices wisely). It is either coincidental that I’ve always just been in the getting to know someone stage at the moment I’ve made the decision to pursue people exclusively or that my state of happiness and satisfaction somehow attracts others – a phenomenon that is certainly not exclusive to me.

But the correct decision is to put an end to other relationships, budding as they may be, and focus on the person who has managed to find themselves a big part of your world. This is no easy feat. Most of us are quite busy individuals. Our typical life schedule doesn’t really admit time for anyone new. Yet somehow, we always manage to find time for her. This isn’t an accident. So, as of today, I’m officially off the market. I’ve shut down everything that was pending or on the backburner. I’ve closed down all dating profiles. I’m now preparing for the next step.

We’ve established that we have big picture compatibility. We have rudimentary conflict resolution skills. We seem to share things (mostly) completely and honestly (some things take time to reveal – you can’t rush intimacy and trust). So now it’s time to check the small stuff. I enjoy cooking, she doesn’t – I’ve never been in a long term relationship with someone who doesn’t cook, how will I handle that (from a rational standpoint, it is not necessary, but many things in relationships aren’t always rational).

Dating: Heading Towards Exclusivity – The Halting Problem

Since my last post, things have moved forward from the eyes open kissing. And by moved forward, I mean that I remember to keep them closed, most of the time. The rest of the time, I work on getting her used to the idea that sometimes they’ll be open. I think what’s happening is usually what happens. We enjoy the kissing too much and start caring less about other things that used to seem strange.

Now, I’ve not said this in this blog, but I feel that romantic relationships pretty much have three stages. Dating, boyfriend/girlfriend, and marriage. I don’t consider friends with benefits, one night stands, or bootycall relationships as being a romantic relationship. They are not. If you are a bootycall and somehow think there is something romantic going on, I 100 percent guarantee that your feelings are completely one-sided. Of the three stages, dating is the most broad.

  1. Dating – this encompasses the period between meeting someone and getting to know them through dating (ie spending time with them in different situations), talking, and learning more about each other until the two of you have decided that you are boyfriend and girlfriend. In the initial period of dating, you may be dating or getting to know multiple people. After some time, you may decide to exclusively date one person, though not necessarily bump up your relationship status to being boyfriend or girlfriend. While people sometimes enter into this part of the relationship unilaterally (without discussion with the other person), typically once such a conversation has actually occurred and both express that they do want to proceed exclusively, the next stage quickly follows.
  2. Boyfriend/girlfriend – now, you are exclusively seeing each other. This is an intermediate stage that should be used to seriously evaluate long term compatibility with each other. During the dating phase, you should have established that your goals, life plans, attraction to each other are compatible – you’d talk  and experience about where you see your careers heading, how many children you’d want to have, how you plan on raising them (education, religion), where you see yourself living, how you  spend your free time, what things are interesting and important to you politically. But in this phase, you are going deeper – does the way he brushes his teeth bother you? Could you be happy sitting in silence for 4 hours while he/she reads a book without speaking to you? Could you see yourself hanging out with his friends for the next 10 years? Do her spending habits get on your nerves. I argue that long term compatibility is about the little things – things which seem so inconsequential and silly when you tell your friends about a fight you had but so important when the two of your were fighting. Toilet seat up or down, brand of laundry detergent, calling you in the middle of the day to say hello, saying I love you. In the dating phase, you’re scanning the big picture for compatibility. Here, you are sifting through much smaller grains – and that’s partially why you will be in this phase longer. (Presumably, you are evaluating spending the rest of your life with this person).
  3. Marriage – this encompasses the period from engagement on. Pretty much, marriage is a legal formality. If you are engaged, that means that you have asked or agreed to commit your life to someone else. So, given that you have already made that lifetime commitment, it seems stupid to me to think that somehow you are not actually committed until married. All that is different is from a legal standpoint, you have a much easier time exiting such a commitment pre-marriage.

So, the big question is how do you evaluate when to move from dating people to dating just one? I have always had this problem. In all of my long term relationships, I have always developed strong feelings and attachment to the women who became my girlfriend just as I was getting to know someone else who may also have been very interesting and had girlfriend potential. In all the cases, I happened to have spent significantly more time with my girlfriends than the other women so I’ve never been in a situation where I can rationally say that I objectively made the decision. And now again, I find myself in the same situation. I’ve gotten to know someone very well and a couple others not as much. And things feel that they are moving in such a way that I should discontinue dating others and just see one exclusively. But without dating the others in a similar manner, am I in a position to make this decision?

What compounds things is that it’s not like I met everyone at the same time and just happened to like one more or we ended up always making time for each other. The others just haven’t legitimately had a chance to make an impression. And given my feelings now, is that even possible?  Does it make sense to impose a minimum time spent dating during which all candidates should be evaluated? Is it important that everyone get equal time or would I naturally gravitate towards the front runner regardless of time spent with her? The whole point of dating is to evaluate multiple people and sort through this whole process faster than going through one person at a time. But then again, is that always necessary? I have this idea that I need to be able to say that I did my due diligence. Though since my last long term relationship, I’ve dated several people. Most didn’t get past the first date. Doesn’t that count as well?

Why is it that whenever I get to the point where I’m seeing someone with girlfriend potential, someone else comes up that is interesting and as interested in me. Before this, it is easy, either I don’t end up wanting more with her, or she with me. Things either aren’t really going anywhere or they’re moving forward with multiple women at once. I’ve never gotten to the “I think I’d want to date X exclusively” moment without there being someone who evokes the “well, if I got to know Y a bit more, I may want to date her exclusively as well” response.

For the non-computer science or algorithms people out there, the halting problem is one of defining how a program or algorithm determines when it has either successfully achieved it’s goal and should end or cannot find a solution (or reach it’s goal) and should also end. With certain types of processes, this is very easy – if I’m adding two numbers, then I stop when I’ve calculated the sum. For others, typically ones that involve search of some sort – the conditions under which you should stop are much more difficult to define. Finding the person with whom you move on from dating to boyfriend/girlfriend is essentially a search problem and like any search problem of actual interest, defining the halting condition is difficult, subject to many interpretations, and specifically in this case, often results in suboptimal results. That the results are sometimes near optimal doesn’t help either because you can’t really learn from experience.

What does that mean, beyond a certain age, assuming you’re not an idiot and you are actually evaluating people for marriage, those that become your boyfriend or girlfriend have a very good shot at being with you for life. So good that for all intents and purposes, if things don’t work out, you can’t really say you chose wrong. The next person you end up with has a similar shot of being the one you walk down the aisle with. To put this into more concrete words, given how close I’ve been to marrying my ex-girlfriends, who can really say that the pattern of my past relationships is actually wrong (and so I shouldn’t worry about trying to even out the dating before deciding who to be with exclusively).

Eyes Open Kissing

So I have a confession to make. Well, perhaps not a confession. It’s not something I had or disguise – it just doesn’t come up in conversation with someone unless they are involved with what I’m talking about. Which is that I tend to kiss with my eyes open. In fact, aside from sleeping and cringing from cringe-worthy events in the Office or any other comedic sitcom, I pretty much do everything with my eyes open. Rollercoasters, skydiving, driving (ok, I suppose that one’s a given). I suppose I more or less close my eyes when praying – but that is something I’ve been socialized to do, and not really what would occur on my own volition.

Now, this is not to say that my eyes stay open the entire time. But they are open more than they are not. And this is bothersome to people. All of my exes have remarked on this at some point. One felt that my eyes being open meant that I wasn’t enjoying things as much as she. That I was either bored or distracted. Another felt it was weird, but she’s very sensitive to ocular attention. One, while she remarked that it was unusual, did not really have any issues with it at all. But for all of them, the open eyed kissing issue went away pretty quickly, with the exception of one where it comes up in a related scenario.

But as it turns out, I have not really experienced the full diversity of responses to my “unusual” kissing m.o. I’ve recently learned that kissing can be a vulnerable moment for some and with eyes open, I’m not sharing in that vulnerability. I think the implication is that at that moment, there is an imbalance of power or something between us. And while I may not ever fully understand the reasons why others may feel it is strange, academically yes, but emphatically, no, I certainly understand the effects of power imbalance in a relationship. Though in this case, I think there is more at stake. And combined with this, I think may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As a guy in the dating world, you find yourself having to push through or cope with what may appear to be negative responses. For example, the woman I’m currently dating, though perhaps no longer, told me that were it not for her friend, she wouldn’t have given me the time of day (well, not exactly that, but we certainly would not have gotten past meeting that night). So, if I’d happened to meet her one night when she was out alone, our interaction would have had a different outcome. Anyway, my point is that even with her friend there, things were not so simple and straightforward. There were concerns and things I needed to address and even then, her sharing her number was not guaranteed.

Wow, I’m seriously in rambling mode today. The point is that you get used to having to be persistent at times. The problem comes with evaluating when to be persistent and when to not. In my last relationship, there was a situation early on that I decided to let play out and see whether there was an actual misunderstanding or whether I was just overthinking a conversation. And the relationship almost ended right then. But it eventually did and so the key question now is that if events like this occur, for whatever reason where one bumps against someone’s dealbreakers early in getting to know each other, should you attempt to fix it or let things play out.

I’m all for people accepting you for exactly who you are, but realistically, that will never 100% happen. So how far should you go? What is the threshold – how much you like them? How long you’ve been going out? Until you turn 30 or 40 and decide that you’d rather settle down than continue dating until you find someone who is 99% fine with all your quirks?



Back to the Drawing Board

Well, this has been an interesting couple weeks.

So, things fizzled out with the friend of a friend that I’d been trying to date. I guess I should have expected this. The signs were all there. I call and she responds later via text. She doesn’t reschedule things or suggest alternatives when she’s busy and leaves them to me. Or maybe I did know, but still continued the ever optimistic guy thing of playing along. I think there is an argument to be made that men are either the most optimistic of the sexes, or we’re driven by sex a lot more than previously acknowledged. A few nights ago, I was having a conversation with someone about male and female friends and dating. I told her that there are two ways guys know that they’re in the friend zone. The first is when they ask a woman out and she turns them down, but they remain friends. The second  is when she discusses problems she’s having with a man that she’s dating or being intimate with him. I then remarked that while I know that women can tell they’re in the friend zone from the former scenario, I’m not sure if the latter exists – and we pretty much narrowed it down to that women don’t continue being friends with men who turn them down.

So all within the same week, my best (female) friend became single, I met an awesome woman (with whom I had the conversation just described), and I learned that my ex is moving (or has moved) back to Pittsburgh. The last item wouldn’t be such a big deal were it not for the fact that she’d given me the impression that she was just going to be here for a wedding and wanted to get coffee to “catch up”.

So aside from all that, I’m back to procrastination land when it comes to my research work. And now that I’m back dating full-time, I need money again, so I need to step up looking for a part-time job. I’m also now going back to eating low carb on my non strength workout days and forcing myself to actually go running on the non-strength days as well. This will be the first week of this new workout change, hopefully I can keep it up. I’ve been oscillating around 203lbs so far this month, but I think by October, I’ll be down to 200 and perhaps have my scale read sub 20% bodyfat. I know my scale is not accurate, but I hope that it is precise and that the accuracy issue is simply one due to not being able to “zero” the bodyfat measurement. (So, I hope that it always gives me something X higher than the actual percentage where X is a constant).

The Cold Approach

I have a reputation among my friends when it comes to approaching women. For some reason, they believe that things will always go my way. Even after witnessing me crash and burn. Why the faith? Well, I have asked myself the same question. After all, I don’t see myself as some pickup guru. I certainly don’t have any ambition of becoming one. I’m more concerned with meeting someone with whom I’ll have an awesome relationship. And by awesome, I mean eclipse my previous ones. Because I think I still have strong and not well resolved feelings for my ex, despite knowing in my head that we should never be (again).

So, why the reputation? Well, I think I know the answer. Tonight I was out with a friend. At some point, I saw her. Not just an attractive woman, but one that for some reason really resonated with me. But I was eating. . .and it is rude to talk with your mouth full. So I waited. And when I was about done, we were distracted by two other women who decided to chat with us. And then she was gone! I looked around, and around, hoping against hope that she hadn’t left, and in the corner of my eye, there she was, at the other end of the bar. So, I told my friend to guard the rest of my food (waiting on take home boxes) and I went to go chat with her and her friend.

And we clicked. She challenged me, making me work for every piece of information. But it was fun. I liked her, and I think she clearly liked me. Her friend certainly did – liked me as a person and approved of me chatting up her friend. Even made not so subtle hints that we should exchange digits (we had). But there were a couple things that she said, which really drove home to me why I have the reputation that I have. And it ties directly into the David Deangelo method/whatever that he promotes to men when it comes to approaching women, being cocky/funny.

Yes, I made her smile and laugh. But she made a statement – “You are not humble are you?”. I know, it reads like a question, but it really was a rethorical statement. And honestly, I’m one of the humblest persons in existence. But when it comes to women that I really connect with, I’m not humble or shy or any of the non-gregarious traits that I usually display, at all. And that is what they (my friends and my dates) pick up. While some of my friends have been single and requested my advice or wingmanship over the years, I can’t really claim to have that much experience when it comes to truly defining what leads to success. But if there is ever something that works – it definitely should be talking to a woman with whom your entire interaction is fun, interesting, and totally unforced. I think this gets lost because (and I assume here, but I’m likely pretty correct) that we men are attracted to a wide variety of women. Physical attraction comes first for us and while there are subconscious cues that can help us determine which of all the pretty women we’re actually most compatible with, mot of us are blind to those signals. And so a lot of advice is geared towards enabling men to respond in all situations, rather than focusing our abilities in narrowing down women to talk to.

So, all this said, we’ll see how things progress. I realized this a few days ago – since my breakup until now (and by now, I mean in the last two weeks), this is the first time that I’ve been truly happy and optimistic about my chances of finding a partner with whom I’ll have a relationship that will be better than my last. I think crossing this threshold is part of why I suddenly seem to be meeting and interacting with a rash of very interesting and attractive women.