Dating With Speed

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I went speed dating the other night. Yes, you heard right, speed dating.

“Kate,” you say”didn’t say in your post on online dating about how you felt like you were sinking down the dating totem pole by getting into that? I have news for you, my friend. The only thing lower on the dating totem pole than online dating is speed dating.”

I know. Whatever. You’ve got to take risks every once in a while, right?

Everyone I mention this adventure to is really curious. “Oh reeeeally?” they say. “You went speed dating? What was it like?” I want to retort “It was like an auction only with semi good looking men. The bachelor walked across the stage and the caller said very quickly and with a singsongy voice ‘Look at this lovely specimen of a man with the argyle socks and nice jawline. Can I get one date one date one date? Come on ladies how about a nice dinner and a movie? I see your one. One date one date can I get two dates?  Come on you lonely ladies wouldn’t you love for this handsome young man to take you bowling? I see you lady in the fur coat, make that two dates two dates.”

Okay, it was nothing like that, but it felt almost that frantic.

The party started out with mingling, an awkward but endearing stance at any party. The mingling was especially awkward and endearing at this particular party, since we knew that we were all there for the same reason; to get ourselves a few slow dates after these really fast ones.

Next, all the girls were asked to sit in a chair. The hosts explained that a man would sit in the seat next to us, we would get three minutes to talk, and then a gong would ring. Then the men would move clockwise to the next seat.

This is when I started realizing something. I hate first dates. All the small talk makes me more nervous than a man with a combover in a wind tunnel. Now I was going to go through twelve awkward first dates in the space of an hour. What the heck had I gotten myself into? This was either going to be a whole lot of fun or a whole lot of horrible.

I felt a little panicky. But like someone who decides to try taking a dip in a river in December, I just had to close my eyes and jump.

Here is a loosely translated rendition of what happened…

GONG (Enter sweet short man with glasses who is balding a little bit) “Hi my name’s Ed!” ” Hi Ed! ” “I hate these things.” ” I hate them too.” “Why are we even here?” “Well, they said there would be good hummus.” Chuckle chuckle. “Have you ever tried online dating? That’s even harder.” “Yes I hated online dating.” “Why did you even do that” “I heard there would be good cyber hummus” fake chuckle chuckle…

GONG (Enter taller guy who is geeky but in kind of a cute way) “Hi my name is Walter.” “Hello Walter!” “So you live in Boulder? Do you ever go to that great little ice cream shop on Pearl?” “Oh yes I love that ice cream shop! In fact, me and my friends have this really fun thing we do where we dress up like pirates and ride around on our bikes and end up there and eat ice cream with our patches on.” Very intrigued look from Walter. “Oh really? Do you like reenacting characters?” “Well, kind of. Just when me and my friends dress up and ride our bikes.” “That is fascinating, because I am really into civil war reenactments.” “You are? Where do you do that?” “In California.” “Oh really? Was California even around for the civil war?” Death look. “You obviously don’t know much about the history of the Civil War.” “Well in truth, Walter, I’m a pacifist. I don’t really like war when it really happens, let alone try to make it happen when it’s not happening.” Shock and horror ensuing. Much happiness when the three minutes are over.

GONG (Enter my friend Brian) “Hey Bri!” “Hey” laughing laughing laughing louder than we should because we are so happy to see someone we know and want people to be impressed with how much fun we’re having. “So it looks like you decided to go as low on the dating totem pole as you could possibly go.” “Well, looks like you did the same thing.” Laughter laughter.

GONG (Enter hippie looking guy named Ben.) “Dude what’s up?” “Hey there.” “So are you a vegetarian? Because I’m a vegetarian.” “Well, no, actually I am hypoglycemic so I eat copious amounts of meat every day.” “Murderer.” Stunning silence. “Just kidding man, just kidding.”

GONG (Enter cute hipster boy named Roy.) “So, I have an idea, let’s promise to not ask each other predictable questions. Ready, go!” Awkward silence. “I can’t think of anything that’s not predictable.” Chuckle chuckle. “How about, what do you like on your pizza?” “Ummm, do you really think that will help us know if we should go on a real date?” “I’m only going to date you if you like anchovies.” Chuckle chuckle. “What’s your take on predestination?” “I’m an arian.” “Wasn’t Hitler an arian?” No chuckling. Awkward. Horrifying and awkward. “So, what do you like on your pizza?” Chuckle Chuckle.

GONG “Hey you look familiar!” “That’s because we’ve been matched on match.com before.” “Oh, yes, of course.” “You never answered my message to you.” “You’re right, I never did answer that.” “Why not?” “Because you looked like a guy with a combover in a wind tunnel.” (Ok I didn’t say that, I just had to squeeze that in.) Totally horrible awkward for 2.75 more minutes.

I got through it. I did get one real date out of the whole experience, which was very flattering since there were so many pretty girls there. It made me feel special. And I no longer have to say that I had only been on two dates since my last big breakup two years ago. I can now say that I have been on 14. Six times as many dates as I have been on in two years. Three times as many as I’ve been on in $200 worth of the online dating over the years.

Score.

I love dating with speed!

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On Trying To Follow My Own Advice

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Hypocrite- Greek: hypokrites

1) An interpreter

2) An actor, a stage player

3) A disguiser, concealer, pretender

I have always found the greek definition of hypocrite interesting. If you were a talented performer on stage in Jesus’ day, people would say, “Isn’t he a good hypocrite?” A hypocrite is someone who acts like something that he is not.

As seen in the above definition, a hypocrite was also the greek word for an interpreter. This is an intriguing definition. An interpreter says words, but they are not his own words. They sound like his words, but they are actually someone else’s.

Hypocrite is a loaded word. If I tell you that I am a hypocrite then you might see a picture of me, little redheaded songwriter, walking around with a three foot plank sticking out of my eye. Ouch.

Or you will see me as a televangelist with enormous redheaded bangs and a ridiculous amount of makeup, crying profusely and asking for forgiveness because I spent $400,000 on a lear jet when the money was supposed to go to orphans.

So, it’s a bit drastic to say that I’m a hypocrite.

Instead, let’s put it this way:

Sometimes, I need to follow my own advice. 

Let me tell you about my experience this year: I started writing a blog on singleness for fun. It’s not even because it’s the topic I know most about, or even am most interested in. I actually am very passionate about things like community development and taking care of the poor, and sometimes I would rather write about that because I’ve studied it more. (Plus, it’s embarrassing to check out eighteen books at the library on dating. I feel like a much better person when I am checking out Henri Nowen and Thomas Merton books.)

But I knew a lot of people that had frustrations with being single and knew they would probably be more willing to read about that in a blog. And it was on my mind a lot as well. So I started writing about it. Suddenly people were listening to me. People were asking me for advice. (People also started calling me the Sexy Celibate in public which was slightly embarrassing.)

All of the sudden, I had to consistently write good posts about, of all things, love. 

My confession, dear readers, is that I have only seriously dated three guys in my life. Some people have that many boyfriends in two weeks. Do I even deserve this blog?

And guess what else? I hate going on dates. Especially online dating first dates or dates with people I don’t know. I really hate small talk and I really hate getting my hopes up and I really hate hurting people, so I would basically rather have my teeth drilled. (I do, however, like the free food.)

But wait, there’s more! I am super, uber, ridiculously bad at flirting. One of my best friends had to give me lessons on it the other day. She showed me how to touch a guys arm and make eye contact. Because my whole life, I have defaulted to practically ignoring someone that I am attracted to so they won’t think I like them. I don’t understand why I do that. I think I got into the habit in middle school and never stopped.

The results have been staggeringly successful, if you count three guys in a whole lot of years as successful.

Another friend challenged me to straight out ask a guy on a date. I said “I am going to destroy you” with a voice like Darth Vader and fire shooting out from my eyes. I don’t know why that came out of my mouth.

Obviously, I have a teensy bit of fear there when it comes to putting myself out there.

Therefore, it is pretty ironic that I am writing a blog and a book about love. Sometimes, because I am such a novice at all of this, it is hard for me to follow all of my own expert advice.

For example, in my post Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs, I talk about how being too dependent on signs is not a  good way to go about making decisions when it comes to love.

After I wrote that post, I was interested in someone for a season and looked for signs harder than a near sighted truck driver.

I got my signs. Really good, story worthy signs. It turns out that that those signs weren’t the best way to determine my fate with this person. Just like I said. 

Whoops.

In Throw Away Your List, I talked about how you shouldn’t settle, but you should also be willing to give people a chance.

Then I was on match.com for a while and skipped over certain people. Like the guy who says he’s looking for someone who is good and the kitchen. Or the guy with the picture of him with his arm around his ex girlfriend. Or the middle aged guy with no shirt on holding a beer. (No I am not joking. That was a real match.) Maybe those guys didn’t really deserve my views. But I also didn’t really look at the perfectly nice guys who I simply doubted I would be attracted to.

Oh no! Am one of those shallow people I talked about in my post?

Then, in What Single People Wish Married People Knew, I talked about how frustrated I get when I hear the sentence “If you let go, he will come.” I often replied “if Kevin Costner comes here and builds a baseball field, then and only then will I let go and he will come. Until that happens, I am sticking to holding on with a death grip.”

Now, I have this little problem. My thoughts and motivation wander too much towards getting married. If I’m not careful, it steals away my joy and hypnotizes me into a state where I forget all of the people around me who need love.

Guess what? I need to let go. The very advice that I was angry about getting is what I need the most.

I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, though. Even if I don’t have a ton of experience dating, I do have a lot of experience being single. (Well, maybe it’s better defined as angst than experience. Two hundred seventy pages worth of angst, in fact. I am hoping I will get healthier so that my next book can be called Angsty No More. Except that sounds like a really horrible romance novel. )

Another good reason that it is okay for me write this blog is that I am a very observant person. I am good at putting my observations into words. I am good at pulling the wisdom out of my own life and the lives of people I love and putting it into a neat little package so people can learn. Even if I’m not dating enough to really live all of that wisdom out. (I’m trying people! I’m trying!)

So if you get down to it, I am not a hypocrite. I am just a human, trying to walk this journey with other humans.

My motivation is not necessarily to be right in all of my posts. It is to tell my truth. It is to help people make better decisions and live better lives. It is to look at my life and sort through what I have done right and what I can do better. Not because I live with lots of regrets, but simply because I want be wiser person. A person that can give sound advice, even if it is sometimes difficult to follow all of that advice.

So how about everyone forgive me, and then help me get this big old stick out of my eye?

My Dysfunctional Relationship

I have to admit something to all of you. You might have assumed from this blog that I have not been in a relationship for a long time. That is not really true. I have been in a relationship for a while now.

My relationship is with a little blog called the sexy celibate.  And it has become a very dysfunctional relationship.

It started out with risk and mystery, like many relationships. I wrote my first post, thinking “Not that many people will read this, but at least it will be a great way to get my thoughts and angst down on paper.”

But on the inside I really wanted people to read it.

There was risk involved from the very first word I wrote down. It was kind of scary. I was putting myself out there. People might read my intimate thoughts and be changed.  Or they might reject me. I might get three hits a day, two of which were my mother. If that happened, I would wonder if I was not a good writer and if the book I was writing would ever be read.

I put up my first post and was surprised that soon after, people were reading my words and even having discussions about what I was writing. It was strangely like when you have a crush on someone. After the initial risk of putting yourself out there, you start realizing that maybe that person likes you back, and that is a very exciting thought.

Around January, some crazy internet explosion happened and I had almost 6000 hits in one day with my article called What Married People Wish Single People Knew (about 20 times more than my average.) The romance and exhilaration of the throes of first love were upon me now. I was in a real relationship. “Lots of people are reading my blog! People like me! They are asking me for dating advice even though I’ve only dated a handful of people in my entire life and secretly know almost nothing about dating! I have purpose! I am valuable! I am loved!”

As in many relationships, after the initial infatuation was wearing off,  dysfunction started to happen. I began to wait for comments like a high school girl waits by the phone for her crush to call her. That’s not good.

My roommate had a friend from out of town over. She said “I don’t meant to seem to seem star struck but I really love your blog. I have practically fallen out of my chair laughing at work reading it.”

Instead of feeling flattered, do you know what my first thought was? “Oh man, I am in my pajamas and  have no make up on, and she’s going to go home and tell people ‘I met that sexy celibate chick and I don’t know why she calls herself sexy. She looks pretty plain to me.'”

The rest of the day, I felt insecure because everything I said felt awkward and not very clever. I thought “dang it, she’s going to go home and say ‘that sexy celibate girl is super bland in real life.'”

Slowly and surely, things started to change. The six thousand hits day was a rarity, and my numbers began to go down and down. “Wait!” I thought “Don’t you still love me? Don’t you still want to read my brilliant thoughts? Maybe I’m not that brilliant. Maybe I’m not even very wise.”

I had a harder and harder time writing posts, feeling like if I wasn’t clever, I wouldn’t be liked. Feeling like I might be a disappointment. I started to realize that “The Removal of the Projections.”  was happening.

My long time counselor has a theory that when you are in love, you not only project your best self for the person to see, you also project an your ideal  person onto your partner. What you see in them is not completely realistic.

Then a season called the removal of the projections happens. Your projection of yourself comes down, and your projection towards the other person is removed as well. There is a lot of control during that period, as both partners want to keep the projections up and continue believing in the figments in their head. They don’t want to see the weakness in their partner or in themselves.

It is much safer to go through the removal of the projections stage when you are dating than after you get married. If you have gone through that stage before you get married, you are more confident that your spouse will stay committed to you because you know that they love you for who you are, not for your projection. (This is another reason to not put marriage pressure on dating too fast, as I will talk about in one of my next posts.)

One of the biggest lies I have believed in my life is that people like me at first- are drawn to my music or my teaching or my personality-but once they get to know me, once the projections come down, they are disappointed. It has especially seemed to be true with almost every romantic relationship I’ve been in.

I have had to replace that lie with truth. When I hear in my head that people won’t like me once I get to know me, I say “People love me more the more they get to know me. I bring good things to people’s lives. If I get married, I will greatly enrich that person’s life.”

I have also had to tell myself that those relationships didn’t fail simply because I wasn’t valuable. They failed because it wasn’t a good match.

Sometimes you have to intentionally replace lies with the truth in order to stay sane.

So dear readers, now you know the truth. I am not always clever. I am not always wise. I am just as clueless as most of you when it comes to love. The projections come down, and really I am just a normal person.

But then I remember one of the reasons I love God so much. He loves me whether or not I am clever or wise. He thinks I’m beautiful even when I am in my PJs with no makeup on. I would be infinitely valuable even if I was in a car accident and was a vegetable my whole life.

Even if people are disappointed with me at times, God always sees me beautiful.

I hope you stay committed to me and my blog even if I am not always clever and wise. I hope you don’t break up with me.

But if you do, I will be okay. Even when projections come down, I am valuable. I am loved. I am precious to my Creator’s heart.

Believing that battles all of my insecurities. I no longer rely on my partner or my friends or my readers to give me value. That takes pressure off my relationships and brings freedom and life.

I am valuable. That is the truth. And it is a truth that no one can take away from me.

Valentine’s Day Vs. The Single’s Lib Movement

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  I have slowly but surely identified myself as the Sexy Celibate, much to the chagrin and constant teasing of my friends. Except I don’t really know what chagrin means.

And so, I am required to write about this holiday: the holiday in which most singles are pretty mad at the world. Here I am. Ready to write the Angry Blog Post.

Actually, because I love you all, I’m going to do more than write the Angry Blog Post.  I am going to be the instigator and leader of the Angry Singles Protest.

Time magazine named “The Protester” the 2011 Person of the Year. (This was a fascinating article by the way. I highly recommend it.) There have been more protests this past year than in all of history. One street vendor protesting in Tunisia inspired a protest in Egypt (which was greatly fueled by Facebook) which sparked protests in Spain and Greece and England, and then helped inspire the Occupy movement here in the U.S.

And today, thanks to me, a new movement has started: The Singles Lib Movement. We, the single people, are ready to wage war against the Valentine’s Day Machine. I, your fearless leader, am ready and waiting for you to come in droves to my headquarters in Boulder.

I’ve already made signs. “Singles Pride!” “Singles are people too!” and “I’m so angry, I made a sign!”

We will build bonfires and burn cheesy valentines and wedding magazines. We will march around in front of Hallmark stores, chanting “Hell no, we won’t vow!” We will write a Singles Manifesto and yell it out to all of those couples  trying to enter the store, holding hands and looking at us with dumbfounded expressions.*

(*Let me sheepishly add an important note here: we won’t be able to protest the Hallmark store on February 15th. That’s the day that all the chocolates go on sale, a day that I fondly refer to as Eat Ridiculous Amounts of Chocolate Day. It is my favorite day of the year. I wouldn’t want to ruin it by being thrown in jail.)

But on Valentine’s Day, we will PROTEST and we will PROTEST HARD!

Oh wait. I forgot one little thing. I follow the teachings of Jesus. Dang. I guess that means I’ll have to shut my headquarters and also probably my protesting, angry mouth.

I’m not saying that Jesus wouldn’t protest. In fact, he is the Great Protester. Of legalism. Of hatred. Of poverty. Of separation from God. Of bigotry, sexism, racism.  But always, always, he protests with the underlying motivation of love.

As I mentioned in another post, married people and couples aren’t the enemy. They get lonely too. Probably a lot of people around you have people to spend Valentine’s day with, but are struggling with the holiday because it can be a mirror of their unhappiness if romance is lacking. We need to remember them. Even the couples that are very happy and are flaunting their flowers and cards and expressing lots of public displays of affection aren’t the enemy.

We are all family.

I have a little secret to tell. I kind of like Valentine’s Day. Back in college I decided to make it a day of love for whoever was in front of me, whether it be God or friends or a boyfriend or people who were lonely.

There was the first year when I went to my special “me and God” places all over my city, singing a song of remembrance at each place. I tried to leave marks of remembrance.at each place as well. I really, honest to God, carved a verse in the bottom of the altar at my college chapel. It’s still there, I’ve looked. Apparently God doesn’t mind the act of defacing public property on Valentine’s Day,  because I haven’t been struck by lightening or anything.

There was the year that my friend and I  bought a huge bouquet of flowers and left a few flowers on each of the doorsteps around our dorm.

There was the year when my best single girl friends made dinner for my best single guy friends. They surprised us with flowers. We went around and told each person what we loved about them.  We also went swing dancing which was ridiculously fun.

There were the two years that some married friends invited me and my other single friend over and all their kids gave us valentines and chocolates and we watched war movies because they could potentially get our minds off of love. (Except we would inevitably follow them up with a chick flick because we liked those better.)

Then there was last year, when my  friend and I bought some flowers and gave them out to homeless people and other lonely people standing on the streets or in shops and asked them about their lives. Some of them were close to tears. Almost all of them said “this was the only valentine I got today! Thank you.”

Granted, I wasn’t quite so excited about the two years that the most serious boyfriends of my life broke up with me the week before Valentine’s Day. That was pretty horrible. But one of those years was the same year that I handed out the lonely people flowers, and that made me feel a lot better.

Granted, just like most of you, Valentine’s Day does make me aware that I am single and can make me really sad.

So maybe it’s ok to have a pity party for a while. But let’s make a pact to not let it last the whole day. Maybe we should limit it to an hour or so.  After that, I think it would be healthy  to make Valentine’s Day a practice for how we should live every day: able to get our eyes off of ourselves for a moment and think about people who are lonelier than we are. To think about the people in our lives that do love us. Jesus asks us to love, and this is a really good day to do just that.

Plus, celebrating the people we love is a really backhanded way to stick it to the big bad companies that made up Valentine’s Day so that they could get boatloads of money. And we’ll spend lots of money doing it.  That’ll show ’em!

By the end of the day, if you are still struggling with all of the reminders of how single you are,  remember, you’re only a few hours away from Eat Ridiculous Amounts of Chocolates Day.