Happy International Women’s Day!!!

I’d like to think that Daylight Savings Time was just as eager as the rest of us to get this lovely day started—this day where (although we should celebrate it every day) we formally celebrate women everywhere.

As a woman, I’ve always struggled with my identity—that is, how can I be the best woman I can be? Do I try to live the best that I can be every day? Do I take advantage of the opportunities that I have? Am I pleased with how I have lived my life? Can I live it better?

Of course, there’s no need to “lift” myself to anyone. We all stand uplifted if we can feel confident that we are being true to our own selves.

Can we be delicate and quiet? Sure, but that doesn’t make us weak.

Can we be warm and compassionate? Sure, but that doesn’t make us passive.

Can we be confident and flamboyant? Absolutely—and it doesn’t make us arrogant or loud.

Can we be strong and assertive? Durn tootin’—but it doesn’t have to make us pushy.

And even if it does…

So the freak what?

We are not limited by words or the opinions of others. Their power does not determine our self-worth. Even when the energy rolls over us more negatively than before, so much the better—because we have learned to dismiss the negativity of it and simply retain the power, and reuse it to make us stronger in the face of adversity.

So, here’s to the women who work hard, play harder, love strong, live true, and fight. Their efforts are selfless most of the time—and are truly allowed to be selfish the rest. 🙂

Here’s to all the women who have made a difference in my life and continue to make a difference everywhere else. I am proud to be a woman and hope that I can set the same example that those around me do every day.

Though the gallery below is far from complete, I’d like to thank all of the women in my life who set a constant example in showing me that a women does not simply have to be one thing only.

A woman can be everything while still being a woman.

The Ways That We Date

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I should have realized long ago that only crazy things happen at 11 o’clock at night.

For me, I was trying to finagle a queen-sized bed-in-a-box mattress through my front door, as I waited for one of my friends to come by after work and help me drag it upstairs to my bedroom. I was wired from a long day (and night) of all-day business meetings and a late-night dinner. The effort to remain sociable and chatty with over 60 coworkers for over 12 hours straight had left me drained, yet buzzed to release my inner silliness to the max.

Sure, I had to be awake by 5:30 the next morning. But dagnabbit, I needed to be B.

While I waited for my friend, I turned on Netflix to see what I could play in the background while I prepared a path up to my bedroom. I was still in the midst of massive Marie Condo-style decluttering, and there were clothes, containers, cartons, and other c-lettered crap everywhere. But that is a tale for another post.

In my efforts to widen my viewing pleasure (I’d already watched the heck out of Father Brown, Nailed It, and Tiny Home Nation), I scanned through the trending thread of shows to see what was popular.

And that’s when I locked onto the first featured show, Love is Blind.

According to the synopsis–oh, heck, who am I kidding? Just watch the trailer below!

My first thought when watching the trailer?

What kinda shady, silly, ridiculous love game reality show smut are we putting out there now? Do these people really think that they’re gonna find long-lasting love without seeing the person they’re talking to first?

This, of course, was followed by my second thought:

Why haven’t I pressed play yet?

A Brief History of Dating

Now, I won’t ask for forgiveness for my hasty and presumptuous judgement of Love Is Blind. (Though I will definitely apologize for any cultural dating norms that I may have missed, as I recognize that every population has their personal practices that I may not be aware of.)

As someone who has and continues to have her ups and downs of meeting people sight-seen, I admit that I’m a little jealous of the more adventurous single folk who are willing to take these seemingly strange risks to find love.

But then, of course, I have to step back even further. Is the Love Is Blind premise even the most extreme technique that we as humans have incorporated into our dating repertoire?

Absolutely. Not.

In the world of television dating alone, the reality dating show is only one branch of the public game show. The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, the Joe Millionaire, the Love Island, and all the other like-minded “watch-and-whoop” dating dramas are simply the tail end of a long line of romance games made popular in the United States through The Dating Game in 1965 (thanks, Wikipedia!).

Here’s a little glimpse of the original Dating Game. Recognize the bachelorette?

Again, this is only the televised part of dating. What about the internet world of dating? Within years of the internet becoming a public place for the public to mingle, dating sites like OkCupid, eharmony, and Match were using different techniques, algorithms, and personal information to pair people up, oftentimes without the aid of a photo.

There were even sites catered to sugar daddies seeking out sugar babies in a mutually consensual agreement to provide companionship while receiving financial support and care.

(How do I know that? Good question. …Moving on! 😇)

But what if we go even further back and step away from what the advancements in technology have prompted in dating adaptation, and look at what cultures have been doing for centuries?

Making “Arrangements”

Throughout history and various cultures, couples have been connected not just to date (or “court,” as it was called), but to marry. Royal, wealthy, and/or influential families informed the next generation just who they were going to wed, when they were going to wed, and sometimes, why. Desires to keep the bloodline pure, the scale of power tipped in the right direction, and even to maintain wealth and property were often the reasons for these unions. If the couple fell in love–sure, great, that’s pretty lucky. The main goal were the reasons above, as well as the chance to produce an heir or two who could carry on the lineage and prove the strength of the bond (*cough*and the husband’s virility).

The courtship before these marriages could vary between couples. There were times when the pair would interact only through correspondence (aka letters) all the way to the day of the wedding. Other times, each party would use a proxy (aka a representative) who would make all the decisions on their side’s behalf. Allegedly, King Louie and Queen Marie Antoinette (who were wed to improve relations between their home countries of France and Austria, respectively) met only two days before they married.

As opposed to the dating games and meetups that we hold today, most arranged marriages did not have the luxury to reject their assigned union. To do so could bring shame, ruin, poverty, exile, or all of the above to the entire household, clan, kingdom–you get the point. To compensate this ruining of reputation, the rejector could be thrown out, disowned, publicly humiliated, or even killed.

A few years ago, my father told me about a friend of his he wanted me to meet–“just to get to know,” he’d said. When I asked for a picture, my father waved it off and said, “You’ll like him. He looks young for his age, and he’ll take care of you.”

Uh huh.

When I met this “friend” over dinner, it was very obvious that there wasn’t going to be a second date. He was a very nice man and actually not bad-looking. However, chemistry between two people is dependent on those two people alone, no matter how much the people closest to them promote the union on their behalf.

When my father found out that the meeting hadn’t worked out, he didn’t shame me or berate me. However, the stink eye he passed me for the next couple of weeks certainly weren’t no picnic, either. But I will take that over public humiliation, or–you know–the other options any day.

Does the “Organic” Date Still Exist?

All this review over blind dates and arranged dates can throw some wariness on the phenomenon known as “meeting someone naturally.” It may even throw out concerns to single people who feel like they have tried every avenue, every gimmicky dating style out there.

The list goes on. Oh, boy, does it go on.

Online dating, once considered part of the gimmicky world, is now part of the norm–even if not everybody wants it to be. My fellow single friend Cathy groaned outright when she heard that a mutual colleague who had been on the rebound of a broken relationship for months, suddenly popped up with news of being involved with someone else. How did they meet? Through a dating app, of course!

“I mean, seriously?” Cathy slumped in disappointment. “Is it just not possible to meet people organically anymore?”

I shared her frustration. I had involved myself in dating sites for years in my twenties. While it was easier to gain a “collection” of options without having to spruce up and leave the house (a super introvert’s dream!), I found the whole experience just as draining. So many people’s photos can scroll across the screen, it can leave you exhausted and even numb to picking one or two who really catch your attention.

Then, as the revelation of how thick the veil standing between users sunk in, the chance to “catfish”–that is, lie about any and all aspects about yourself, including age, gender, weight, and general appearance—exploded.

That’s not to say that online dating isn’t a viable option to meet quality people–far from it. After all, you’re quality people, aren’t you?

And your single friends are quality people, too.

And I’m sure that each of you have at least one profile created on an eharmony, an okCupid, a Tinder, a Bumble. It’s just a matter of quality people linking with the quality people. It may take a while, but it will happen.

Some day, I may venture back out into the world of online dating, to see if anything has really changed in the way that I can meet like-minded goodness. I was recently introduced to a really informative article, “Best Online Dating Sites Based on In-depth Reviews,” that not only researched some of the most popular dating sites; it also provided quantitative details on the amount of research that went into the article.

The article was also objective; the first section at the top of the page was a “need to know” space that gave the following statements:

Dating sites don’t perform background checks on their users.

In 2018, Americans lost $143 million to romance scams.

Information in your profile may be shared with third parties.

Personality quizzes don’t necessarily lead to better matches.

From consumersadvocate.org

Are these statements stuck at the top to deter you from finding love through a dating site? I don’t think so. Rather, here is the chance to educate yourself fully and take dating seriously, no matter what method you use to date.

Just like when “accidentally” running into a cute stranger, then meeting said stranger for coffee the next day, you need to be realistic on what you know—and don’t know–about him/her.

The incorporeal “they” don’t say that “knowledge is power” for nuthin’.

The Best Way to Find Love

True love is not built on unrealistic fantasies, hopes and dreams. That being said, is it wrong to fantasize and hope and look forward to meeting someone who makes you smile in the morning and holds you tight in the evening?

Abso-freakin-lutely not.

Is it wrong to take risks in the world of love?

Nope. Nuh uh.

If it is, I’m flippin wrong till Tuesday and beyond.

No matter what you do or how you date, once you’ve done your research, educated yourself and ensured your safety–once love truly begins…let it happen naturally. The only control you have over whether the other person finds you as wonderful as you find them, is with yourself.

From what I’ve heard, the season finale of Love is Blind has posted on Netflix. Idealized couples and tropical vacations aside, it’s the self-control that helps you keep a grasp on reality as you come face-to-face for the first time with the person you’ve fallen in love with after only a few weeks. I have to wonder how many of those lovely contestants remembered that.

…chemistry between two people is dependent on those two people alone, no matter how much the people closest to them promote the union on their behalf.

Mid-30s, Female, Single and Awesome

The last thing I intended to do was restart my blog with a rant over another blog.  But when I saw the title of a Vogue.com article shared on Twitter a few weeks ago, my biscuits became quite burned.

“How Did I Become the Last Single Person In My Group?”

A.k.a.,Mid-30s and Single:  Did I Wait too Long to Settle Down?

Weeeell, great.

As a woman in her mid-30s, I get bothered by these kind of articles.  Not because I feel an unyielding pull to get married and have kids by the next full moon.  Rather, they seem to reflect a stigma that still appears very prominently in modern society–that women lose their attractiveness and sex appeal once they reach a certain age.

Before I even started reading the article, the first comment describing it called it “cringe-worthy.”  “Really?” I thought curiously, clicking on the link.  “What could POSSIBLY be cringe-worthy about an article?”

You ask a silly question.

The Summary

The blogger in question–a blond, pretty woman encroaching on the dreaded age range of her mid 30s–laments about how she managed to reach said age without being able to find a single Mr. Right to wed and bed–or is it the other way around?

She has the sudden epiphany that drinking and going to orgies (not kidding) just aren’t holding the same magic that they used to.  It is now time for her to do the settling down thing!  Every man met must now be scrutinized for his wardrobe, his choice in mattresses, his papa potential.

But perhaps she has waited too long.  Perhaps all of the good men in the world have already been snatched away by the fresh, young 20-somethings, leaving only the bare minimum for 30+-year-old women (whom she terms “leftovers”).  Nevertheless, she will embark on a tireless search (I guess through dating apps, since she is also feeling “too lazy to go out”) for her perfect mate before she is too late.  Meanwhile, all of her friends have already linked up and shacked up, spending more time with other couples than with her.  Now what is she supposed to do with the rest of her free time?

I’ll be honest.

I am not the most sophisticated, swanky, social media savvy individual.  In fact, just call me an individual.  My retirement goal in my golden years is to have a hobbit hole and shepherd a yak farm in New Zealand.  So maybe this article just went over my head, and the cringe factor that everyone else got, I did not.

Is the article cringe-worthy because the author was trying to be funny-cute by calling unmarried women in their mid-30s “leftovers”?

Is it cringe-worthy because the whole thing is satire so brilliant, I just missed the memo?

Or is it cringe-worthy because it possibly makes other mid-30s women embarrassed to be mid-30s women?

Over 30 = Obsolete (Apparently)

Let’s say the cringe falls under the third option.

My own embarrassment does not find any fault with the blogger’s sudden desire to get married and have kids.  Though the reality of the “biological clock” is still reputed among the experts, I’m sure almost every woman has at least once glanced at a man having a moment with his child and felt…tuggings.

I know I have.

And it was…interesting.

But I digress.

My embarrassment lies, instead, with this blogger’s decision to turn her article into a victimization of the fact that she has been “abandoned”:

  • Abandoned by friends who had the nerve to get married and leave her cold and shivering on the couch of their summer holiday beach house.
  • Abandoned by men who had no romantic interest in her and only wanted to check her teeth for decay (it happens).
  • Abandoned by her non-existent boyfriend when she bought a new portable air conditioner and forgot (*shrugs*) that she had to drag it up four flights of stairs to her apartment.

At the end of the article, she resolves to “keep eating steak alone and RSVP’ing to orgies”.  After all, that’s what you do when you’re waiting to meet Mr. Right after you’ve entered “leftover territory”.

To the single women over a certain age who want to get married and have children, this article paints a horrifying though unfortunately statistical (EDIT: yeah, there were no actual statistics in that bad boy. 🙂 ) picture:

Mid-30s You Are Not Young Anymore Sign

What About the “Other” Single Women?

I was an absolute mess in my 20s.  The literal small-town girl in a big city with everything she owned in the back of her 2005 Grand Am.  I found the world a scary mass of contradictions, and the attention of men was a new and often frightening experience.  I spent most of my time trying to traverse among the players, the narcissists, the insecure.  By the time I determined where the borders lie in Good and Evil, I was often too late.

But there was a worse “too late” that was happening to me, even worse than missing out on meeting men.

  • I’d had dreams of being a professional wrestler since I was in high school.  Had I pushed myself, believed in myself more, I could have been a veteran in that arena (no pun intended) as far as 10 years ago.
  • What about singing?  I come from a singing family.  When was I going to stop mucking around to do that whole “singing in a jazz club” thing I’d wanted to try for years?
  • And what about my childhood goal of making a living as a novelist?
  • And aerial silks?  And Brazilian jiu jitsu?  And my lead-in as the new voice of Bugs Bunny???

I spent most of my adulthood afraid of living, let alone loving someone.  Only in the last couple of years have I finally started addressing my fears and enjoying myself.  To my shock, I’ve had more fun and felt more comfortable in my life now than I ever did in my 20s.

Meeting the “right” Mr. Right

“But B,” I hear someone asking smugly, “wouldn’t you love to meet Mr. Right?”

You bet your top AND bottom dollar, I would.  But therein lies a bigger question.

Who, exactly, IS Mr. Right?  And more so, who is my Mr. Right?

Is my Mr. Right your Mr. Right?

Is “Kelly’s” Mr. Right the same as “Chantal’s” Mr. Right?

Absolutely not.

Kelly’s desired Mr. Right might be 6’5” with a square jaw who hates broccoli but loves zucchini, who has dated a lot but never met a girl who could grind her skateboard more than six feet on the rail.  He is between 25 and 35, and he is ITCHING to marry someone at least five years older than him and have at least 3 kids starting next year.

Chantal’s desired Mr. Right might be a silver fox who just has to be taller than her 4’11” frame.  He’s divorced with two fairly well-adjusted kids in middle school, and he is at an age where he doesn’t have to work as long or as hard as he used to.  He studies Shinto and really wants to give taekkyeon a go.  And he is a hopeless romantic who doesn’t see age, race, profession, or language as a barrier.

These scenarios paint different pictures.  But they are both available options–and opportunities–to marry and have kids, for the RIGHT women.

That being said, we as women don’t have to stop LIVING.  We can enjoy ourselves while we “wait” for fate/God/the universe/the Force to pair us up–in our 30s, our 40s, our 50s, and beyond.

And even if you don’t get paired up–that’s okay.

Wouldn’t you rather look back on how much fun you had, how many wonderful people you met, how much of an impact your work/art had, than how you simply scoured the world for a guy who wore the exact color of blue boxers that you like?

Now Exiting Leftover Territory

At the end of her article, the blogger mentions two goals in her 20s:  to be a bestselling author and make a movie.  I don’t see why she still can’t fulfill at least one of those dreams.  There are too many success stories of artists who didn’t break out and reach fame until their 40s or 50s.  I don’t know about her, but between her steaks and orgies, she’s got plenty of time to perfect that book or manuscript.  Maybe she already has.  

But I will say this.  If this 30-something blogger wants to call herself a leftover, that’s fine.  But I certainly do not see myself as a leftover, and I don’t see the need to include anyone else in that bracket, either.  I don’t see myself or my ripe “old” age as a disadvantage, but rather as a blessing.  I’ve learned so much about who I am in the last 10 years, things I needed to go through that before I could even consider having close friendships, let alone relationships.

Could I have made wiser decisions in my dating life during my 20s and had more successful relationships with a higher potential of marriage?

Well, sure.

But I did the absolute best I could in the situations presented to me. And I’ll bet this blogger did the same thing.  Heck, we all did.

And for those who did manage to marry in their 20s?  Much congratulations and blessings to them.  However, they are notbetter” or “luckier” than those who are single.  They are simply following a different path.

I say for myself, for the blogger, and for all single women worried that they have missed out on love, marriage, children, and any and all intimate companionship.

You are not a leftover. You will find the love you are seeking.

So power to you.

In fact, power to me, too. 🙂

What the hey–power to all of us.

I’d love to hear other opinions on this point.  Feel free to comment and share below.

Here’s the link to the original article.