(mis)adventures in dating, episode 2

james, i have a serious question…. how are you single right now? 
from someone awhile back.  it was just… such a morale booster to hear it.  so easy to feel like you’re damaged/fucked up when you’re single and that it’s a hopeless situation.  wish i could bottle up that feeling that keep it forever.  up there with things like “a great first date” or “getting that guy’s number”, etc.  (ftr, the speaker is with someone who i think he’s way happier with.  whew.)


scale of dating excitement.  on a scale of 1-10, where 5 is neutral, and 10 is absolutely in love, how do you feel about this person?  

“i mean, that’s so close to a 10!  for me, that would be like…. dating jesus!”  -margaret (at a 736 kitchen hangout, the new cool place to be) (couldn’t tell if she was being facetious) (i don’t think so)

fun follow up questions: what score do you have to give someone before you’ll consent to a first date?  5th date?  20th date?  (for first dates, mars/margaret both said 8.  i would say 4.  which…. yeah.  but see “first date rule” below.)


i’ve quickly learned DATING makes for an awesome group discussion topics because dating is a subject that almost everyone has strong opinions about, fun anecdotes to share, and enjoys discussing.  some fun dating-related questions that i give to you to discuss the next time there’s a lull in the conversation.  you’re welcome!

should you be 100% honest on first dates/when you first start dating?  coincidentally discussed on a (second) date with a guy who was excessively quirky.  alternative is not pathological lying or spontaneously revealing dark/gross/traumatic characteristics, but treating it more as a job interview and focusing on the positive aspects of yourself and glossing over some of the negative aspects of yourself.  quirky second date dude: “i mean, do you know what i think would be the best dating site?  where everyone listed ALL OF THEIR PERSONALITY FLAWS.  you would be so much more likely to find someone that you could maintain a relationship with!” (ridiculous, obviously couldn’t date him)

arguments for honesty: eventually, the other person will learn about the weirder aspects of your life.  if these things are dealbreakers, just save yourself the trouble and tell him/her now instead of 5 dates/months(/years?!?!) down the road.  why would you want to start a relationship on lies?  would affect dynamic of the dating if you can’t be yourself and have to constantly edit/monitor what you say.   if they were really the one, they would be able to accept you 100% on day 1. 

arguments for “only showing the good side of james” (the side i fall on): i think that “quirky facts” about yourself can be a dealbreaker on the first date, but can be quite endearing on a 4th date.  people are busy and just looking for reasons to dump you after a first date.  give yourself time to feel the other person out so you know their turn offs and turn ons.  why be risky?  play it safe; the cost of a few extra dates is incredibly negligible compared to the risk of losing the love of your life just because you said one wrong thing that they took the wrong way.  (context: i can think of two distinct examples of guys who i was REALLY INTERESTED IN where i really came off with way too strong of a personality and they broke it off.  and, yeah, fine, yeah, regardless of how i played it, there’s a very high chance we wouldn’t be dating right now regardless.  but on the other hand, god, i wish i didn’t have those “what if YOU ACTED A LITTLE BIT MORE NORMAL JAMES” questions constantly rolling around in my head.)

this question is fairly closely related to “should you play games when you date”, the perennial favorite dating question.


If everyone who says they ‘love museums’ and ‘go to them all the time’ were telling the truth, every museum in the world would look like Walmart on Black Friday. Saying they love museums is like saying they love Christmas, because both happen only once a year. No one goes to museums unless they have family in town or they’re on some bullshit OKCupid date trying to impress someone with how awesome and cultured they are (or if there’s a new Star Wars exhibit). Just say you like to watch TV. That’s actually true and will make you a lot cooler. giz – the lies everyone tells on dating sites/brian moylan!!

coincidentally, guy asked me out to go to a museum.  which is…. not my place to shine, but if it’s his, i’m all for it.

is it alright to immediately ask a relative stranger that you’re interested in out on a “date”?  alternative: do low risk things with the person before going on a capital d Date.  such as: hanging out with other people, communicating online.  

be direct: (where i fall) one of the things that i find sexiest is when a guy takes charge.  hate all the formalities that lead up to a date.  just get it over with, it’s not a big deal.  why is everyone so afraid of dating!?  (okay, let me rephrase, i love when people just ask to go on a date after meeting or after initial chatting, but i am in general hesitant to use the d-word.)

be casual: being too direct can be a turn off/scare people away.  play it cool.  

i know part of it is semantics, and i certainly agree that everyone defines “going on a date” very differently, but the intent of this question is not really to define dating, but asking where to fall on the spectrum of how direct you can be.  also strongly related to the “should you play games” question.  

does it matter what your friends think about your SO? 

it matters: friends are an important part of your life that your SO should be able to fit into.  friends are good judges of character and know you well.

it doesn’t matter: if you truly love someone, who cares what other people think.  

one of my (weirder) favorite jerome moments was at etd pop, where someone tapped me on the shoulder, flashed this giant smile, and made a heart figure with his heart.  (…and then i had to explain to him how me and jerome weren’t a couple the day after…)

happy endings did a clever, charming episode about “what happens if your friends loved your significant other TOO MUCH instead of too little?”

i don’t want to para hoy!

ugh, space isn’t even the final frontier anymore!
that was her best story!


dating/being interesting is exhausting.  i remember sitting in LAX on the way back to SF and just…. dreading the castro. i mean, the castro is fun, but…. this whole dating/courting this is exhausting.  i think the toughest is being social and interacting with people who i am not used to interacting with/still learning/experiment with that rhythm and trying to blend in so much more than i am used to having to do.  then there’s the pressure of trying to get people to like you.  the boldness of approaching strangers.  maintaining a semblance of self-worth and motivation despite rejection.  futilely explaining to people why a relationship won’t work and dealing with that guilt.  constantly asking “should i, or should i not” on everything. 

but like i tell patrick, it is very “pay to play”, “do what you gotta do”.  if i truly believe that i really want this (which i do), then i should fully be willing to put in the time.  MIH

levels of reality. of an overall unremarkable season of survivor (season 24!), there was one girl, kat, who was kicked out and was very immature about it.  she would throw hissy fits often and acted like a petulant child and many of her tribemates often faulted her for using “i’m only 22!!!!!!!” as an excuse for everything.  from jeff probst Q&A:

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a contestant like Kat, and while she and everyone else kept chalking her immature behavior up to being young, I thought Chelsea made a very astute point that “22 is not that young.” Do you think if you had made every challenge for margaritas she may have fared a bit better?
Kat is certainly colorful and can be very charming, but the truth is we all have our limitations. Kat doesn’t have the vocabulary or life experiences of others her age and it shows. It’s one of the most fascinating aspects of Survivor — watching a true cross section of America reveal themselves with nowhere to hide. Oh, and yes, margaritas would have helped.

(for the record, kat delivered probably the highlight of the finale, where during the typically-bitter jury interviews, kat explained how she went through and will have to go through open-heart surgeries, and how she deals with her mortality by approaching life in a very carefree, YOLO you could die tomorrow sort of way.  and how she had totally forgiven the finalists (who betrayed/blindsided her) and how life was too short to be bitter and angry.   it was beautiful and heartfelt and shockingly unexpected.)

i credit nick with this framework, and for some reason i always associate it with hand motions making different level miming actions, but it’s this idea that basically (one of) the most important thing with a significant other is that you must be on the same level of reality, or have the same “life vocabulary” as jeff sort of says.  experience the world in a similar manner.  react similarly.  part of it is personality, but a lot of it is also the experiences that we’ve had growing up.  


so clever.  the more i read smbc, the more it reminds me of calvin and hobbes.  but yes, crucial to find someone who understands your inner life.  god, what a clever, clever ending.  you think you get to the punchline, and he gets meta with it.

As it stands now, Bieber is a perfectly nice guy. Sure, he’s flaky, and brash, and a touch vacant. Still, I don’t think most people would fault an 18-year-old for acting like an 18-year-old. But I don’t know if he has the right system around him to move PAST that. He’s not gonna go to college (would you?). He’s not gonna have to get an entry-level job and eat shit for a few years. And he lives in a celebrity culture that amounts to a nonstop circle jerk. This happens to a lot of young stars, be it musicians, actors, or sports figures (hi, LeBron!). They become so successful so young that they skip the stage where you become a fully functional adult. And I don’t know if you can recover from that. deadspin

definitely have met some people (again, capital j Judgment) who i really think missed out on some key life experience when they were younger and are incredibly emotionally/socially/etc immature.  and it generally impresses me when people (as is the CONSTANT THEME OF THE BLOG) challenge themselves to grow by meeting different people, actually learning from mistakes, etc.

no such thing as love at first sight.  almost a year to the day of meeting jared, i fell in love with jerome.  like COULD NOT STOP THINKING ABOUT HIM, i just KNEW that he was the one.  like ready to throw everything away, burn ALL the bridges (dating jerome would have involved a certain amount of drama with…. to be fair, people who weren’t that into me anyway), etc. 

got to know jerome more though.  and… it became slowly clearer that we weren’t in fact destined to be together, despite the fact that i had bet my soul on that fact.  just made me realize that that initial rush (while fun and exciting) does not at all reflect how you will feel in a month.  (works both ways though.  bad first impression—>good match in the future as well.) you just can’t realistically expect to get to know someone in two weeks, there are just so many blinding extenuating factors.  so says the cynic, james.  anyway, i have learned not to trust my premature judgment. 

hate hearing about ex’s boyfriends.  i’ve been talking to some of my ex’s, and they occasionally talk about who they’re in love with.  it’s weird.  this includes, “he said i was his katy perry song…. because i’m the one that got away.” (ugh, fine, very cute/clever).  or someone saying that he was in love with this guy like one month in, how he was willing to move for him, wanting to live together, travel together, etc. 

and i know it doesn’t MATTER because i’m over them and they’re over me, blah blah, “perfectly enlightened world,” but it still just…. cheapens my time with them.  like it wasn’t real love, because now they know what real love is, and i was just this side distraction.  but yeah, it’s weird. 

whatshouldwecallmemaybe – when i say hi to my ex’s new bf (why did the gays get to co-opt that song?  a very funny tumblr, btw)

difficult to remember that the value of people is not measured in one dimension.  it’s a very “each person has a unique dynamic with someone else” thing, or “IT’S A DYNAMIC THING” as angeles likes to say.


“paying it forward”. in a somewhat tongue in cheek way, angeles and i were talking, and basically… sometimes you just really want someone to agree to have sex with you.  i was thinking about how MUCH IT WOULD MEAN TO ME, and then i/we started using “paying it forward” as a euphemism for “agreeing to have sex with you.” PIF, andrew. 

ever-increasing standards.  angeles mentioned that as you date more and more people, your standards increase because you basically compare all future dates against the best qualities of all your ex’s.  and i think part of it is just me being less desperate, but i remember the time when i was basically willing to date anyone who 1) was gay and 2) found me attractive. 

but yeah, of recent ex’s, i can attribute which one exemplified the many attributes that i care about:

chris. chris always impressed me with how on top of his shit he was.  in a world where, if a relationship were a partnership about navigating life’s obstacles, i would choose chris hands down.  he was incredibly responsible and capable and competent and mature.  he will be there when you need him to be there, he will fight when he needs to fight, he will know the things that you need him to know.  during crisis situations, he stays level-headed, solution oriented, and helpful.  that is why he is the de facto trip leader/organizer (nobody else i have seen comes close to how good of a trip leader he is) and why he is president of his HOA.  one of the best experiences with chris that i will treasure was when we did diamond dash (think amazing race) together, where he was unphased, supportive, and dedicated.  “father material”, as tri would say.

nugget face!!!!!!  hah.  those were the times.

patrick. patrick pays attention and is always willing to engage you on what you say.  extremely responsive communication styles.  remembers a shocking amount of detail.

jared. that spark.  that initial “FUCK I WILL THROW MYSELF OFF A CLIFF IF HE DOESN’T TEXT ME BACK” feeling.  that excitement.  i cannot emphasize how soul-consuming this crush was.

sean h. sean and i had(/have?) the most fun together.  he knows how to make me laugh like no other.  sean was also the most successful/well off.  (which is…. i always feel guilty when i care about that, but people always say it’s fine.  feel free to judge.)

dave. dave “gets it”.  or “gets me”.  one and the same?  but if we’re talking about “levels of reality”, we easily see eye to eye the most of all the guys i’ve dated.  arguably the most important quality of everything mentioned.  dave also is very similar in energy level to me, and we have a very good time joking around together.  he is playful and plays the acronym game with me, which ostensibly doesn’t matter, but it does.  he appreciates and engages my ridiculousness.  great with words.

jerome. when jerome and i dance, everyone in the room disappears.  i am 100% engaged in the “dance conversation”.  he’s playful, responsive, maintains the perfect amount of eye contact.  it’s fun, intimate, exciting.  making out on the dance floor, eep.  dancing, sure, maybe also ostensibly doesn’t matter, but it does.  dancing with other guys can seem so lackluster/boring now. 


will ignore other ones like: “best in bed”, “most attractive/best body/etc”, “most into me”.   “kind” is a tough one, because all of them were REALLY CARING at some point, and then REALLY NOT CARING by the end.  “inspiring”?   “best at conflict resolution”?  (tbc, i think i’m probably not great in bed, and fairly bad at conflict resolution) “most ‘substantive’ conversations”? 

but ultimately (if i’m going to be ridiculous), this is a maximization question where i assign an importance to all of the above attributes and pick the best person that gives me the best overall utility?!  side notes: i don’t think that you should ever compromise your standard of how well you get along with someone/how well they “get you”.  patrick would like to note that i probably weight physical attractiveness too highly and should weight more toward criteria that indicate “lasting relationships”.  i really just want to find someone where i won’t be meeting other random gay people and be like “FUCK this guy is WAY BETTER than my current SO!!!!”  one of my favorite lines from my favorite cousin:

Well, in my opinion, there isn’t such thing as the ONE. I would estimate it at the HUNDRED or so. The “compatibility rating” in HIMYM is quite accurate in my view. Anyone higher than a “x” rating would be a good candidate for long term relationships, and I don’t think a 10 rating exists in real life. So, to answer your question, I believe [my wife] is definitely a sky high 9 point something in the scale, and I am certainly lucky to have found her, but I don’t consider her the ONE. ha, don’t tell her I said that!

I would suggest you to just enjoy the relationship you’re having right now, without worrying about is he the ONE or not. Compatibility issues come later, for the time being just enjoy yourself.

standards.  standards in general…. “is it good or bad to have standards”.  i think the answer is in general “DON’T HAVE STANDARDS THAT ARE TOO LOW, DON’T HAVE STANDARDS THAT ARE TOO HIGH.” but i think i’m young enough to be picky for now….



graduation speech about love (via dave)

I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

nice, true, awesome.

one date rule

Now, if I guy invites me out on a first date, I say yes.

Even if he is sort of nerdy.
Even if he is sort of boring.
Even if he’s, well, let’s just say not someone I’d pick out of a crowd.

Just one serving. One, low-key date. And if after that I’m still not feeling it, I can simply say “No, thank you” to the next one.

And I’ve learned that I write people off too quickly, that humor is more important to me than looks, that sometimes if there’s no spark, there’s really just no spark, but other times the first dates I’ve dreaded the most have turned into second, third and fourth dates.

But the most important thing I’ve learned is that there isn’t really anyone out there that doesn’t deserve at least a chance, especially if they make the effort to ask me.

strongly believe in this. again, first impressions are never everything.

WSJ – opposites attract (via patrick)

Of all the ways that opposites attract, the thorniest may be when emotionally giving types pair up with types who are emotionally reserved.

Givers love to show affection: Hugs, kisses, flowers, skywriting—there’s no such thing as too much. They crave receiving displays of love, as well.

Reserved types certainly may love deeply, but they are uncomfortable showing it. Often, they rely on their partner to initiate a display of affection. Sometimes, they don’t even enjoy receiving expressions of love.

Initially, emotionally giving types are attracted to emotionally reserved types, and vice versa, because they are so different, experts say. Giving people often find reserved people intriguing; they like to elicit affection from someone who doesn’t express it easily. And deep down, reserved types often like to be drawn out.

Over time, though, the two types can bring out the worst in each other. The giver starts to seem needy. The reserved partner reacts by pulling away. This makes the giver give even more in order to elicit attention; the reserved one backs away even further.

Amir Levine, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University in New York, identifies three types of attachment styles: Secure, Anxious and Avoidant. Secure people make up more than half the population and are typically warm, caring and comfortable with intimacy, he says.

Those with an Anxious attachment style, about 20% of the population, often worry about their relationship and whether their partner loves them, says Dr. Levine, co-author of the book “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love.” They typically are emotionally giving. Those with an Avoidant attachment style, about 25% of the population, tend to think intimacy leads to loss of autonomy and try to minimize closeness, he says.

LOVE RELATIONSHIP FRAMEWORKS.  ftr, i like the idea, though i don’t think that people necessarily only fall in one bucket.  i think i’m mostly reserved/attached?!

via patrick.  he would kill me if i threw this under jared above, but i want to.  hah. 

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