Why YOU don’t always have to be IG worthy

StockSnap_2HLCI51VQ8Just in case you haven’t read some of my other posts, I’ll give you a quick run down.  I have “untraditional” views when it comes to dating and relationships.  I don’t feel that innate need to have kids and I have no desire to get married.  Click here if you’re interested in more about this.  This doesn’t mean that I’m not open to love or a long-term partnership.  It does make me less susceptible to pressure by family, society, media to ‘settle down’.  Man, fuck that shit!  The only person who has to live my life is me, so you better believe I’m going to make damn sure my choices ensure my happiness.

I will not be a proxy for someone else’s dreams, aspirations or shortcomings.

Alright, rant over.  Single life is allowing me to explore myself and people in ways I never imagined.  The learning is fascinating, exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

What you see is what you get with me.  I will say what I want and don’t want plainly (without being hurtful).  Plus my face and my body language read like an open book.  If I’m upset, I couldn’t hide it if I tried.  This stems from confidence and decisiveness.  None of these traits can be helped.  I mean that I couldn’t pretend to be unconfident, indecisive or fake happiness when I’m mad.  I cannot believably pretend to be someone who I’m not because not only can I not imagine ever wanting to do that but I’m just physically incapable and always have been.  And this is where the problem comes in.

If you present as something, the expectation is that is who you are and you mean what you say.  Why?  Well because that’s what I would do, duh!  I have no energy to waste on acting like someone I’m not or saying something I don’t mean.  There is no real and long-term return on that investment so why the fuck would anyone do that?  Here’s what I’ve discovered:

ONE:  They’re playing a short, disconnected game.

Yeah man.  Of course.  Instant gratification.  Who doesn’t want to get what they want right when they want it???  To be present, be in the moment and all that good shit.  But your life is not a series of disconnected snaps.  It’s fucking Game of Thrones.  It’s a series of connected events where every decision you make affects another, whether it’s now or years from now.  I’m playing a long game and while five minute shorts can be intense and exciting eventually you have to ask, how does this serve me?  I’ll stick with the holistic approach.

TWO:  They’re in recovery.

Everyone has baggage.  Everyone.  Myself included.  This doesn’t need to be discussed on a first date or anything but don’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.  We make decisions based on our past experiences.  We compare partners and relationships to past partners and relationships.  It’s impossible not to do; we do it to comprehend this new data (person).  To organize and understand how it fits with us.  So fucking accept it people!  Accepting that we do this is the first step towards not using it to condemn the new person.

THREE:  They don’t really know what they want.

I’m learning about motivations.  That the drive behind what people say they want is more important than what they are saying.  My drive behind saying that I’m not looking for a traditional relationship is that I’ve realized I need to be free.  I’m my best, most creative, happy self when I’m not in a relationship.  While I desire sex, I don’t desire companionship in the way others do.

Now while some say they feel the same way I do, it doesn’t mean their drive is the same.  Their drive to be single may be that they’re still in recovery.  Deep down they actually don’t want to be alone.  So why is it so fucking hard to say that you’re confused, conflicted, lost?  Why does that have to be a sign of weakness?  We say something and then change our mind, that’s cool; own it.

My drive allows me to not be afraid to fall for someone.  If it happens, it happens.  If it doesn’t work out, sure I’ll be sad for a bit, but I will get over it.  It won’t define me.  Now if someone’s drive to be single is that they’re in recovery but they really don’t want to be alone, well I’m thinking they’re going to be terrified of falling for someone.  Terrified of failure.

I’m terrified of failure too.  But, no matter how terrified I am, I refuse to let it cripple me.  Every aspect of my life doesn’t have to be Instagram, showreel worthy and it isn’t.  I promise you, yours doesn’t either.  The long-term benefits come from authenticity and I’m not concerned about how this will turn out.

Why your BFF is just as, if not more valuable than the standard Valentine’s day date…

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taken at Cineplex Cinemas Vaughan

If you’re single and you don’t want to get caught up in all the cornball, Valentine’s Day mushy-ness then avoid the mall at all costs.  I remember making this mistake back in high school.  I was heading to a volunteering job and killing time at the Bramelea City Center while I waited for a bus to Mississauga.  I was single and the mall was littered with red and pink, balloons, teddy bears, chocolates, flowers and of course young love *gag*.  This type of stuff has little effect on me now, but like I said,

If you’re single and easily susceptible, stay the hell away from the mall on Valentine’s Day.

If you don’t have a romantic Valentine, suck it up because you have the unconditional love of someone even better; your BFF.  Here’s why she (or he) makes such a valuable date:

You don’t need to impress her but you want to.

You get your hair did, put your face on and wear your sexiest outfit for her.  Why?  Because she deserves the hottest date.  Period.  And who better to give that to her than you.  Plus, she will tell you if your outfit looks jacked and you don’t have to spend the whole night wondering about it.

You don’t need to try to be authentic; you just are.

Who better to practice being yourself with than the person who already knows all your secrets?  You’re guaranteed to get some affection at the end of the night because to her, you’re the bossest-ass chick.  No need to be sneaky about what you want.  You want a hug or you need a cuddle?  She’s got you!  Bonus, you don’t have to spend anytime questioning if she’s going to call you because you’ll probably already have a text from her about the cute guy she saw in the parking lot by the time you get back to your car.

A date with her can make you more self-aware.

Two sexy, single ladies, smiling and laughing without a care in the world are fire.  Zero in on the essence of what that feels like so you can push those good vibes to the forefront when you’re out with a dude.  It’s also good practice for you to be present.  You’re playing with your phone or not paying attention to her?  She’ll call you on it.  You get experience focusing your attention on one person with live, unfiltered feedback.

If nothing else, you’re always guaranteed a good time with your BFF.  What better way to celebrate a day dedicated to love than to spend it with her?  The person who has been there with you through all of the trials and tribulations in your search and who loves you all the more for it.

 

How to take a vegan out to dinner (or breakfast)

But what do you even eat?

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taken at Lola’s Kitchen

I’ve been vegan for over a year now and there’s a couple common questions that I answer again and again.  This post isn’t a rant.  I don’t get tired of answering them.  One of these questions is, “Isn’t it hard to find stuff to eat?”.

Well the short answer is that it really isn’t.  “Vegan food” is everywhere and to be clear it’s not vegan food; it’s just food.  Like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, “there’s no such thing as a vegan apple, it’s just an apple.”  Of course it’s more challenging if you’re looking for pre-packaged, prepared foods but those make up the minority of what I eat.  The majority of what I eat are whole foods.  Those are easy to find.

The follow-up question is, “okay, but how do you eat out?” or more importantly these days,

Where can a dude even take you out to dinner?

Here are four tips for both the vegan and non-vegan to help you navigate the eating part of your date night, so you can focus on the important stuff like building on that connection.

1)  Know what a vegan is.

This can be a little subjective.  Every vegan is different and being vegan may mean something different to them than it does to someone else.  For example there are vegans who only do not consume animals or animal secretions, there are those who are also cruelty-free in terms of the products they use or the clothing they wear.  There are those that beat themselves up if they slip up and accidentally (or on purpose) consume animals and there are those that don’t.

For the vegan:  If you’re going on a date which involves food you should either be upfront about it and tell the person or if you don’t want to right now, then eat before you go in case you can’t find anything at the restaurant.  Dates are hard enough, don’t make things more awkward than they have to be.

For the non-vegan:  Assuming she’s told you that she’s vegan, ask for clarification on what that means.  I’ve been asked this before and I’m happy to explain myself.  If you’d rather not ask, Google is your friend.  Just keep in mind you may be missing some details that are specific to her.

2)  Check out the menu.

For the vegan:  If he suggests a place, check out the menu before you agree to make sure they have something vegan friendly you would want to eat.  If it’s coffee, I always suggest Starbucks.  I’ve heard that depending on the area some of the other coffee chains will keep non-dairy milk on hand but have never experienced success with this.  Starbucks is always a sure thing.

For the non-vegan:  Pick a place that has vegan options.  Bonus points if you pick a vegan/vegetarian restaurant (Fresh is on point for every non-vegan with a vegan friend I know) or if you do some research and have some suggestions on hand for when the server gives you a few minutes to look at the menu.  Don’t you look like such a thoughtful and savvy gentlemen?

3)  Don’t be judgy.

For the vegan:  Respect your suitor’s choices.  While looking over the menu, I’ve been asked by my date if I mind if he eats meat.  Of course I don’t.  Your choices are your own as mine are my own.  I can appreciate you listening to why I choose to live my life the way I do and I appreciate you standing by your own convictions.

For the non-vegan:  Nobody likes this.  Plus if you want to see this person again it’s not the best idea to tell them their life choice is a phase, to make fun of them or talk about how great meat tastes.  These behaviours only reflect your discomfort in your own choices and they’re not attractive.

4)  Don’t make it a huge deal, at least not in the beginning.

People, at this point you’re just starting to get to know each other.  Being vegan or not being vegan doesn’t have to be the center of the universe right now.  If you both cannot have an open, honest and non-confrontational conversation about it then talk about something else.  I should hope you have other shared interests otherwise you probably wouldn’t be on this date in the first place.  If this isn’t the case then maybe you just aren’t compatible anyway.

BONUS TIP

If you’re staying in for Netflix and chill.  Have snacks.  Vegans get hungry sooner than non-vegans (at least this vegan does) and hungry can turn into hangry real quick!  Some suggestions for vegan snacks:  Go basic – nuts and fruits.  Go junk food – chips and salsa, pretzels.  You don’t have to go all crazy looking for vegan cheese or anything.  There’s plenty of vegan-friendly food that you already eat.

 

 

 

Does it hurt?

Life after rejection

stocksnap_kt7jonscn9Of course it does!  Any kind of rejection, professional or personal hurts.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.  Sure the degree to which it hurts will vary, but you know it still hurts.

Whether it’s that dude who matched you and never sent a message or never responded to your message.  The one who matched and then quickly unmatched you or the one who just disappears after one, a few dates or even weeks/months of dating; it hurts.  While at times our behaviour can lead to the unwanted ending of a courtship it’s important to remember that there is a whole other person involved in this equation.   Another person with a different experience and self-evolution that brings with it an endless supply of independent variables beyond your control.  For my tips on how to stay cool despite the possibility of rejection see Tinder/Bumble Survival Tips.  You may not have much control over whether or not you are rejected (especially when you’ve only just connected), but…

You most certainly have control over how you respond to rejection.

If you’ve taken the relationship (however loosely you can definite it at this point) for what it is and met him where he was in terms of his behaviour towards you, it certainly makes it easier to accept your current situation.  So when I’ve been rejected, thinking about the below is how I get it handled:

  1. I used to say this to my BFF all the time when another woman crossed her (I don’t anymore because she already knows the drill, and owns it):  Does she feed you?  Put a roof over your head?  Keep you safe and warm?  Help you to achieve what you want in your life?  No.  Then you don’t need her, or in this case him.  You not only survived but thrived before him (believe me you were definitely thriving if he was attracted to you) and you will certainly thrive after him.
  2. It’s okay to be sad.  It’s okay to accept and feel pain.  I find it far easier to move on when I embrace the negative feelings rather than trying to pretend they don’t exist.  The important thing is to set a limit on how long this pain will affect you (and also accept that the line is movable, sometimes we backslide).  How long this will take depends on you and the investment put into the courtship but acceptance with a set expiry works for me.
  3. Learn from the experience.  If you matched with someone and they just never said anything, there may not be much to learn from that situation – except maybe that just matching someone isn’t the biggest indicator of interest or that this person would make a good whatever it is that you are looking for.  However in a situation where more investment was made, and without over analyzing the situation:

Thinking about it for even a few minutes can improve self-awareness.

For example as difficult as it can be to ‘be yourself’ when in the high-anxiety situation of getting to know someone new, perhaps you were being someone completely unlike yourself.  Maybe you tried to be someone you thought this person would like but was not authentically you.  The thing about trying to be someone else is that you can only keep the charade up for so long; eventually the truth comes out.  So perhaps what you learn from this situation is that you could benefit from working on authenticity and keeping consistent with your personal values when you meet new people.

4.  Remember the bad times.  Of course we want to remain positive but also realistic.  I can’t remember where I first heard this concept but when a relationship ends we have a tendency to romanticize the good times and completely ignore all of the bad ones.  Sure there were some great memories made during the course of this relationship, but save those for later because right now you need to get back on point.  In your lowest moments you will remember some amazing time you had or some sweet thing that he said and trick yourself into thinking the entire experience was all sunshine and roses.  When you catch yourself doing this force yourself to remember the negative experiences, the disappointments, the things that made you two incompatible.  I’m not proposing you do this long-term; it’s a tool to put your current situation and emotions into perspective.

5.  Remember there are other positive things in your life.  This person was not and is not the determinant of your happiness.  You definitely have other things in your life to be happy about, otherwise this person would not have been attracted to you.  You have friends and family who love you, you have a career, you have aspirations and all that you need to achieve them.  These are the things that will continue to prove themselves far more valuable than this person who’s decided to bounce from your life.

Confessions of a Recovering Relationship Conformist: Part 5

This institution wasn’t made for me…

stocksnap_iagn87yfpzI’ve realized my motives are not the same as those of most women or at least those that most women present.  I accept that this is not likely to change and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I also don’t plan on letting anyone else make me feel otherwise, and neither should you.

My motives?  I’m not looking for marriage or children.  I’m not against them, they just don’t feel right for me.  I’ve heard all of the reasons why you think I’m just saying this now, or that I’ll change my mind eventually.  Believe me when I say that I won’t.  I could fill a book on this topic…  So we’ll just leave it at this:  It’s not enough to say, “Once you have them, it’s worth it and you can’t imagine life without them”.  I’m sure that is absolutely true but while you can think of a million reasons to want them to begin with, I can’t think of one for myself.  Whenever someone prods me on the topic I remember this scene in House of Cards where Hannah Conway (woman, married with children) asks Claire Underwood (woman, married without children) if she ever regrets not having children.  Claire pauses and replies calmly “Do you ever regret having them?”

Mic. Drop.

My thought process?  I think that if a man is going to leave you after you have sex with him, then he will leave you if you have sex with him now or a month or 6 months from now.  If he wants to stay, he’ll find a reason to stay.  So if I want to have sex with him now, why should I wait?  If he decides to interpret my behaviour negatively, I don’t want that dude anyway.  I still believe this to be true for the most part but I’ve also realized something else.

I’m a round block trying to fit into a square hole.

I’m operating in a system that was not designed for me, with men used to dealing with women who are not like me or pretend not to be.  So as much as I want to be true to my own values and not pretend this institution of courting/dating/marriage works for me, I need to find the best way to temper my impulses just enough that I am still organically me.  I need to work maybe not exactly within but on the outskirts of the framework they’re used to.  But how?  Patience?  FML.

Patience and interpreting the information as it pertains to me (and those like me).  Matthew Hussey presents an ongoing theme of ‘meet him where he is’ in terms of investment.  He’s got a ton of content demonstrating this concept as it relates to text message exchanges and other communication with men.  He also explains this concept more broadly; when you want to ‘Get the Guy’ your behaviour should reflect how much he likes you, not how much you like him.  I’m over simplifying, so visit Matthew’s YouTube channel linked above for more detail.  How do I interpret this for me?  Well, when I want something, I go after it but as much as I may want to it’s not enough to be intimate with a man based on how much I’m into him.  The intensity to which I show how much I want him should mirror how much he’s into me.  This concept also applies to those of you with more traditional motives than I.

Temper your feelings for him with his feelings for you when you are considering your behaviour.

Mathew Boggs breaks down the differences between how men and women interpret their feelings for each other.  As women, we generally take no time to determine how we feel about a man in comparison to how long it takes him to decide if he wants us or not.  Just to make things more difficult for us, while he’s deciding, he’s doing all of the ‘courtship rituals’ that make us like him even more.  At whatever point he determines that he doesn’t want anything to do with us, he might ghost to avoid dealing with the drama and disappointment he’s expecting from our response.  How do I interpret this for me?  Despite the fact that I can decide very quickly whether or not I want a man, I have to act with the understanding that he is likely to take far longer (in comparison) to decide whether or not he wants me.

Patience is most definitely not one of my greatest virtues but what this means is we need to slow our feelings or at least the intensity with which we show our feelings so as to match the speed of his decision making process.  They say we process too fast but if you think a little faster we don’t have to slow down for you to catch up…

 

Are you really up for adventure?: Part 1

stocksnap_9dac748a18It’s not so much that I’m bored at home with nothing to do.  I can always find something to occupy my time and be perfectly happy doing it.  But I also know how many times I find myself in a text exchange with the BFF about how we never do anything and have nowhere to go because our circle of friends is so small.  Small as in, just her and I (by choice).  Complaining about how we don’t want to go to a club, but how many times can we go out for coffee??? At the same time we send each other memes on Instagram showing ‘that face you make when plans fall through because you get to stay in bed’.  Entertaining because it’s the truth.  We say we want to get dressed up, all girls night out, and also don’t want to get out of bed, get in the shower, do our hair, put our faces on and get dressed.  Or drive anywhere.  Or look for parking.  This is exhausting!  So nine out of ten times, we stay in..  And bitch about having nothing to do and not meeting people and not knowing where to meet people.

Sometimes you just need to get out of bed.  Sometimes the journey AND the destination are worth it but you’ll never know if you’re too lazy to take the first step in that direction.

I’d already stayed out past my bedtime Friday night (10pm).  After running errands until Saturday afternoon, I was mentally and physically ready to stay in my PJs until Sunday morning.  But I had an opportunity to meet someone for dinner downtown and while I could have used an adventure, I could have equally used more than 6 hours in sweats vegging out.  Going downtown would mean driving there and as much as I like being downtown, I prefer it as a pedestrian or a passenger.  I could drive to Downsview station (free parking) and then take the subway down.  The trip would take longer but be considerably less stressful.  I used to hate riding transit when I had to, but there’s something both relaxing and exciting about riding it when you normally drive your car everywhere.  Yah.  That could work.  I was supposed to be downtown for 7pm which meant I should leave by 6pm.  It was now 4:50pm and here’s how you know I was still on the fence about this potential adventure:

  • I had confirmation that we were meeting but not exactly where we were meeting after I got out of the station.  I decided to take this as ‘unconfirmed’ and had zero intention of getting ready until an exact meeting location was confirmed.
  • I hadn’t picked an outfit, or did my hair, or make up or even showered yet.
  • I needed to stop to take out cash for subway fare and gas.  Don’t worry, I had a plan to stop at a gas station with an ATM on the way to the highway.

So after spending 15 more minutes updating my Spotify playlist – essential since I’m going to need some get hype music to wake me up on the drive – I get in the shower.  I tell myself if there is no confirmation text by the time I get out, I’m not going.  There is a confirmation text waiting for me when I get out.

J, you are going to do this.  You always talk about wanting an opportunity to go out – to try something new, to meet new people.  If you don’t take this small step right now, how can you complain about not having any opportunities later?  Here’s that pivotal moment where a simple yes or no decision determined which of two very different paths my night would take.  Do you really want adventure or do you want to stay in bed?

Confessions of a Recovering Relationship Conformist: Part 4

How can being whipped be a good thing?

stocksnap_6qnp6abcjeLet me explain.

In addition to being a recovering relationship conformist, my “I can do it myself” disease is also in remission.  Yes, I’m that one.  I try to do what I can on my own, without assistance from a man.  You know that, I don’t need your money, offer to split or pay for the bill, open my own door without even thinking that perhaps I should let him do it type stuff.  That’s not to say that I don’t let men (or women for that matter) do things that I could do, if they offer.  For example, I could pick up that heavy box over there but if you’re offering I say please and thank you!  Nor will I do something that I don’t like or don’t want to do if I don’t have to.  I’m not going to learn how to rotate my own tires or do my own oil change because I have zero interest in those tasks.  And sometimes, even if there’s something I can do for myself but I don’t want to at that moment, I might ask a male friend to do it for me.  But trust that he knows I would do the same for him if he asked.

So yes, I’m in remission for these I-can-do-it-all-by-myself behaviours.

I know that my partner needs to know that they can take care of me and the only way that can happen is if I let them.  I’m a work in progress.  Doing things for myself without help from a man is natural to me, while letting a man do things for me is unnatural.  That’s not to say that I’m missing the ‘domesticated’ gene.  I cook & bake, clean & do laundry, pack lunches.  I’ll help you with spreadsheets for your finances, make you soup and put vapour rub on you when you’re sick.  Now here’s where whipped comes back in to play.  There’s a difference between doing the above mentioned out of necessity or obligation and doing them because you want to do them for this specific person.  The latter is what I define as whipped.

I would take whipped one step further and say that it’s not just about taking care of the person (because you’re supposed to), but catering to this person because deep down you really want to.

It’s a choice to cater to this individual because you want to even if it means doing things which are unnatural to you.

Brace yourselves feminists.  There’s an element of submission in here.  Being in a relationship would require me to submit myself to this person.  Submit myself by putting my pride aside in order to cater to this person.  Not in the sense of saying that this person has more value than I do or deserves more respect than I do because it’s a choice, my own choice.  I will say that though I have taken care of my partners in my past relationships (to the best of my ability at the time), I can’t say that I submitted to any of them.

What would it mean for me to submit or be whipped?  It would mean that if I got home before him, I would want to run down the stairs to greet him as he walked in the door despite what I was doing.  It would mean wanting him to sit and relax at the table while I bring his dinner to him.  It would mean wanting to pour and hand him his scotch or bourbon and massaging his shoulders at the end of a long day (even if mine was longer).  It would mean him doing the same for me and me letting him do it.  Submission.

Now I know all you wives and fiances out there (if you’re even reading this) are probably chuckling to yourselves thinking,

‘Duh, that’s what it’s all about’ but the difference for me is that’s not what it’s all about.

Kudos to you that you don’t recoil at the thought of these behaviours, that you can do them so willingly and lovingly.  But they are completely unnatural and essentially blasphemous for me to say. Those who know me in person are thinking, “JJ, this doesn’t sound like you at all“.  Of course it doesn’t.  Wash my mouth out with soap (or my fingers).  That’s my point exactly.  These behavious are completely unnatural for me.  So assuming a or a few ‘right ones’ for me exist, they would need to be someone for whom I would be willing (and wanting) to do these things despite how inorganic they feel to me at this moment.  This is what would have my friends teasing me and calling me whipped.  Still thinking about what kind of person they would have to be for me to want to submit.