Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The game of risk

My friend sent me this article and I really liked how he talks about minimizing the costs and risks of dating. (Actually, I like a lot of the advice he shared.)

We put SO MUCH pressure on first dates! Is he The One? How long has he been in love with me? Do his last name work with my first name? Why did he ask out half of the Relief Society before asking me out? Is he a player? Am I in love with him? We act as though we have to know by the end of the date whether we are going to marry the guy! Then, we come home from the date, plop down with ice cream and friends and analyze every detail. Then we mention the date to our visiting teachers, co-workers and classmates and within a week, everyone thinks you two are an item, but really, he’s been on dates with two other girls and wasn’t planning on asking you again! Suddenly, you’re feeling like an idiot and he is confused as to why your roommates are snubbing him.
A first date is just a first date. A second date is just a second date. Even a third and fourth date is just a third and fourth date. It’s a chance to hang out with someone, one on one. Nothing more, nothing less.

A huge secret to my dating success came when I finally internalized this critical principle! I actually went through a time period where all of my guy friends were guys I had first gone on a date with. We didn’t have chemistry, but we sure enjoyed each other’s company! During this time, I even went out with entire apartments and one time, a family! (the boys in that family were VERY attractive!) (yes, that was probably the high point of my career).

So what did I do? Okay, this is my personal secret, the method I used to calm myself down about dating. I’m not saying it works for everyone, but it did for me! Every time a guy asked me on a date, I convinced myself that he only asked me out because his first choice girl said no. I was his friend, therefore I was a great backup candidate. After all, he already had plans to go to the movie/dinner/play/bonfire, so why not take a back up? Occasionally (depending on how much I really liked him) I would even select a specific girl I knew and tell myself she was his first choice.

I’m actually pretty good at lying to myself (yet strangely, not very good at lying to others...) Telling myself this lie helped because I learned these incredibly important principles:

1. I wouldn’t talk about my dates with anyone else. I’m kinda prideful, so it was embarrassing to tell people I was only his backup choice! So I just wouldn’t say anything and if anyone asked, I would nonchalantly brush it off. Maybe I would talk and analyze if I was his first pick, but not second and definitely not third!

Years later, I heard a dating coach recommend only talking to 2-3 people about any dates you go on. It minimizes potentially painful and embarrassing moments if things don’t work out. Wait until you are in an official relationship to tell your classmates, hairdresser and random stranger on the street.

2. It helped emphasize friendship first. If I was his backup choice, he obviously trusted me enough to be there for him, even if it was a last minute invite. We were friends! Buds! Bros, even! (Bros of another gender!) When we were on a date, we were just two friends, hanging out and having dinner. After the date, he wasn’t the guy I had gone a date with. He was my friend who I spend time with last night! Our friendship would just continue the next time I saw him at church.

The one downside is I could get carried away with this attitude. He would lose interest because I treated him too much like a friend, instead of a romantic interest. But hey! I still kept the pressure to a minimum!

3. My world didn’t end if he didn’t ask me on a second date. After all, I was only his third choice. His first choice was available the next weekend! I was free to accept another date with another friend!

4. I wasn’t too physically easy. I’m not going to kiss him if I’m only his second choice! When I’m more of his priority, then we’ll talk! In reality, guys don’t like it when girls put out easily. Trust me, I know. When they say they like it, they mean in the way they like food. Taco Bell gets the job done. It’s cheap and easy. Cafe Rio is even better. There is a bit more waiting, it’s more expensive, but so good when you finally sit down! Red Iguana? Well, that’s luxury, right there! The waiting is atrociously long, the prices on the higher range for mexican food, but SO WORTH THE WAIT. Be a Red Iguana kinda girl!
5. I literally was his second choice, and it was easier to accept. If a guy is going on dates with four different girls a week, he isn’t a player. He is doing his dating job. If a girl is accepting three dates a week with different guys, she isn’t a skank looking for free meals. It’s her job to get to know different guys!!! At the end of the day, we have to be okay with that concept. Dating is about getting to know different people until you find one you like. When you kiss someone or agree to be in a committed relationship, THEN you stop dating others. If you continue to date others, then the labels “player” and “skank” become appropriate.

Once I calmed down about dating, it became less stressful. I was a chill girl and the boys noticed. I was still friends with Ryan, so Nick felt comfortable in going out with me. Boys want to minimize the risks just as much as the girls. So make it easy for them! Once you get this kind of reputation, the dates will come rolling in! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Scramble: A Modern Day Parable

got an iPhone at the beginning of this year. 

First off, iPhones are amazing! I have a small list of things that everyone said I need to try and I would just shrug and say, “Hm. I’m fine with what I have. I’ll just stick with it.” Then I try the product and my life is completely revolutionized! I suddenly can’t understand how I lived without the product! It’s amazing and wonderful and I insist on explaining to everyone I know why they are the best! IPhones are on this list. Tampons and cheesecake are on this list.

When I got my phone, my friends told me which games I needed to download so we could play together. One game was Scramble with Friends. Have you played it? It’s fun. Now, I love word games but I’m surprisingly bad at them. Most people assume I would be good because I read a lot and therefore know a lot of words, but they are wrong. I tend to freeze easily under pressure.

I started playing with a few friends and I lost miserably each time. One friend, SL, was especially good at the game. When I played her, it was embarrassing. I lost by hundreds of points. I had close games with other friends, like my little sister, but I could not even come close to beating SL. So it became my goal to beat SL. I asked her for tips and suggestions, which she kindly gave. At any given time, we had about five games going, so I was getting in a lot of practice. At some point, my little sister stopped playing with me because she got distracted by school and real life (wait, what?! Not everyone has time to sit around playing internet games?!).

I continued to get better. My total word count got higher and higher and I started the close the gap of points between me and SL. One day, my little sister started playing with me again. She immediately told me, “You need to get a life and get away from this game. You’ve gotten ridiculously good.” I was surprised to see that she was right! Our games weren’t as close anymore, with me losing every time. I was winning! I was also beating my other friends. But the most amazing part? I hadn’t realized it because I still hadn’t beat SL!

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We find someone to compare ourselves. We become so fixated on beating that one person (or even group of persons) that we forget to be happy. Happy for improvement within ourselves. Happy for the fun we have while we improve. Happy for the beauty around us. Happy for the mind, body and social ability to improve.

I wish I had specific advice on how to stop comparing yourself to others, but I don’t. I’m just as guilty, maybe even worse (Aha! See! Comparison!) Sometimes I make myself stop and think about how far I’ve come in my life, especially since I graduated from high school. I was a frightfully na├»ve and homely little thing in high school. Since then, I’ve done hard and challenging things. I’ve become a better person and I’m grateful for that. I even keep a list of those accomplishments in my planner, so I can always reference them when I’m feeling down.

What if, just for today, we don’t compare? We make a list of what we are proud of and admire ourselves for how far we’ve come? We don’t look at our list and say, “Well, hers is longer and she is younger than me” or “Well, she is earning more money than me.” Let’s just be happy for who we are. I think that is where our true beauty lies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Birthday Freebies

My birthday is in 4 days! It's the Golden Birthday, turning 28 on the 28th! Eeek!

I have several ways I enjoy celebrating my birthday. Last year, I did 27 service projects and I enjoyed it so much, I want to make it a tradition. I also enjoy presents, getting sung to, setting goals to accomplish in my next year of life and spending time with friends and family.
Me getting sung to at Texas Roadhouse. They sure know how
embarrass you at that place.

But my favoritest birthday tradition of all? FREE BIRTHDAY STUFF! Seriously, who needs a man on your birthday when the stores love you enough to give you free meals and desserts?! (Please note, that was only a joke. My ideal birthday would involve flowers, dinner, and a movie with the man of my dreams. If you have a way of making this happen, I would be eternally grateful!)

But free stuff! Yay! My favorite ones are the ones you don't have to purchase anything else. It's free just because you were born. Those are my first coupons to go. So far I've gotten:

 *A burrito from Rubio's Mexican Grill. They give an entire free meal if you sign up for their club.
The bag and its delicious contents

*Ice cream from Coldstone's. Sign up for their email list and you can get any ice cream, any size with up to four free add-ins.

*A bowl of noodles from Noodles and Co. Sign up on their email list, get any bowl and you can even add meat for free!
They've got this new spring dish with asparagus and spinach.
Duh. Lish. Us!!!!
I also have coupons for Red Robin (free burger), Dairy Queen (buy one, get one free Blizzard), Texas Roadhouse (free appetizer), Marie Calender's (free slice of pie) and Einstein's Bagels (free breakfast sandwich with purchase of drink). Most of them just require signing up for their emailing list, which is great because for the rest of the year, they email you other coupons and free stuff. Seriously, who wouldn't have a happy birthday with all these amazing treats?!

Do you have any fun birthday traditions?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In a parallel universe...

I like to play the what if game. It’s possibly one of my favorite games. I dated a guy who also loved this game and we would have the best discussions. How would things be different if someone made a slightly different choice along the way? We could totally be living in a parallel universe with completely different lives!

I really believe in “meant to be.” I freely and emphatically use that phrase throughout my life. But I don’t believe in “destiny.” In my mind, they are very different. I think it has to do choices. Meant-to-be focuses on the choices we made along the way that results in a certain place, whereas destiny focuses on where we end up, regardless of which choices we made. If it’s destiny, we could have done A, B, and C or E, F, and G and ended up with the same results, either way. Meant-to-be means we chose A, B, and C and got D as a result. But we could have chosen E, F, and G and ended up H and still have been happy. Or maybe not happy. That is the beauty of meant-to-be, we will never know the other options! It’s so exciting!

I recently talked with a friend who is getting very serious with her man. I’m pleased to report that I set them up! (As a side note, I love playing match-maker. If I could make a career out of it, I would!) We marvelled at how meant-to-be their relationship is. What if I had moved into a different ward? What if I had a different home teacher? What if I hadn't broken up with my boyfriend and needed someone to listen to my whining? What if she had moved into my ward like she had originally planned? Would they still have gotten together or would they have completely missed each other because they weren't ready to meet?
I guess my point is we can date and practice dating all that we want. We can go on one date a year or three dates every weekend. We can wonder what we are doing wrong and try to become better. But when it’s meant-to-be, it’s meant-to-be. Nothing can prepare us for meant-to-bes. Meant-to-bes just catch us completely off-guard and it’s only when they are over that we realize how meant-to-be they really were.

I think that’s what people mean when they say, “Oh, you’ll get married when you aren’t looking for it.” That is a lie. If that were true, I would have been married when I was 21. I think what they mean is, “You’ll find The One is a way you weren’t ready for because it will be meant-to-be.”

So don't worry when you feel like you just messed things up with the cute guy at the party because you rambled on about how buffet is a terrible word and he kept staring at your like, "Why am I talking to this lunatic when there is a cuter girl over by the cookies?" The meant-to-be will come along, someday.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Interwebs dating

I approve of online dating.
If you haven’t given it a try, you should.
Back in 2011, I was scared of online dating. I felt like only losers used it because they had been rejected by every other boy in real life. Then, my group of friends (there were six of us who were very close) went through an online dating phase and convinced me to join them. One friend went on an average of two dates a day (she was a little bit boy crazy and only had a part time job in order to help her focus on man-hunting. True story.) Another friend met an awesome guy who took her out on amazing dates and brought her flowers when she got back from a trip. Another friend got into a relationship with a guy she met.
Excitedly, I started an account and waited for the messages to start pouring in. I got a message from a 64 divorced man who live in Iowa. He had no schooling, no job and looked like he hadn’t showered in a week. He sent me a very tempting offer and it was hard to refuse, but I somehow managed.

The next guy who messaged me told me that if I was pretty cute, but he doesn’t date Mormon girls. If I ever decided to renounce my religion, he explained, he would be willing to go out with me. I sent him a scathing letter reminding him that I’m not a member of my church because my mommy told me I had to or because I wanted to get married in a pretty building like all of my friends. I told him he insulted my intelligence and even if I did renounce my religion, he would be the last man on earth I would date. I really did say all of that (except the dramatic, last-man line).

Then I got a series of messages from creepy, weird and generally dreadful guys. My self-confidence shot down. Was there something so wrong with me that my friends would get amazing guys and I got the losers? Were these the type of guys I was supposed to be with while my friends got the cool, smart, nice guys? For the sake of my self esteem, I closed that account.
A few months later, my friends convinced me I just had a bad experience and I needed to try again. They suggested a different website, ldslinkup.com. After much coaxing, I gave it another try. Much. Better. Results. I ended up messaging some really cool guys and I went on a few dates (one guy will get his own post someday, it was such a funny date). I’m still friends with a few of the guys I met through the experience. I enjoyed talking to different guys and learning how to flirt online. It even built my self esteem! 

I tell you all of this because I want you to know online dating isn't for everybody, but give it a try before you completely knock it. Here are my tips:

*Don’t pay for an account. That was my mistake the first time around. When you pay, you get people who are a little more desperate or shallow. Normal, average guys will set up a free account because, why not! It’s a free way to meet more girls and there is no commitment. Don’t you pay either.

*Close the account if it’s hurting your self-esteem. There are some creepy and weird guys out there. You deserve better than that, trust me. Try another site or use the good old fashioned method of meeting people in person.

*Be safe. A good guy won’t be offended if you ask for his name first so you can facebook stalk him before giving your contact info. He will know there is more danger for you than for him. A good guy will have plenty of information on his profile. He will be willing to meet you in a public place. He won’t make you feel guilty for not giving information.

*Don’t stay on all the time. Go on for a month or two. If you aren’t succeeding, cancel the account. Then come back in a few months and try another website. People use different sites, so you never know who you’ll meet.

*Pay attention to the pictures and information you put up. Are you using cute pictures? Ask a photographer friend to take a good picture and use that. Online dating can be a bit shallow initially, deal with it. Also, read through the information you put up. Don’t give away personal information (your address, your first and last name, etc) but don’t be so vague that you come off as boring. For example, everyone says, “I’m fun and smart.” That is vague and tells guys nothing about you. Try something like, “I enjoy sitting on the porch during the rain while reading a good book.” It’s specific enough that he can comment on and it shows your interests.
*Believe that success can come from online dating! I had one friend who got married in December from online dating. Another friend will be getting married this July from her online dating encounter. It isn’t the only way, but it is a great way!