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.

How to Stop Yourself from Having a Crush

Click here to go straight to the methods.

For those of you who have read my posts all the way back to several years ago, you’ll recall that I wrote about how not to lose yourself when having a crush.

My personal belief is that a crush should be fun and harmless.  It should provide pleasing moments as you navigate through your daily life.  It’s a nice little distraction; something–or rather, someone–who makes you smile when you see him/her across the way or when he/she randomly pops into your mind.

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(And don’t even lie–you know you’ve made that face before.)

But what happens when you develop a crush on someone, and it starts to consume more of your thoughts–and time–than you want it to?

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It’s annoying, innit?

Why Should I Stop a Crush?

Is it Me…?

Your frustration at having the crush may have nothing to do with the actual person you’re crushing on. The guy/gal could be one of the sweetest, friendliest, coolest people you know.

Or, maybe not. Maybe they suck the big one, and you are honest-to-goodness frustrated that this person, off all people, is the one who makes your heart go all doki-doki.

Regardless, we’ve all experienced what happens when we become infatuated with someone:

  • We blush profusely.
  • We fidget noticeably.
  • We literally get stupider.
  • We stare at them too much.
  • We don’t look at them at all.
  • The ability to form sentences fails miserably.
  • We babble like the possessed.
  • We show off excessively.
  • We become as still as a mouse.
  • We get way too close.
  • We run.

Bottom line: we lose the ability to act normal.

What’s worse, despite the staggering amounts of online lore that clearly give these behaviors as signs of interest, we might think one of several (or a combination of) things if someone behaved this way towards us:

  • Creep.
  • Shy.
  • Showoff.
  • Guess he doesn’t like me.
  • Guess he really doesn’t like me.
  • Couldn’t care less that I exist. But why not? I’m awesome.

Thus, we think they’re thinking this because we think they’d think this about us.

(Y’all got that, right?)

…Or is it You?

Maybe there’s a more external reason that you don’t want to have a crush.

  • The person is already involved in a committed relationship.
  • The person has already told you that they do not want a relationship with you.
  • The person is in a certain professional/religious/authoritative/etc standing that makes the crush embarrassing or annoying (e.g. your boss, your priest, your teacher).
  • Heck, maybe you actually hate this person, yet your pure, raw, biochemical makeup has determined that you and them are supremely sexually compatible and would make excellent pro-creators to continue on the legacy of the human race!

Regardless of the reason, you want to abolish these feelings and move on. Sooo, it’s time to employ measures to crush the crush before it goes any further. I would like to share some ways that you can stop–or at the least, reduce–your latest infatuation.

Disclaimer: I am not a dating coach. I have had plenty of experience in the crush department (pity me later–let’s keep this about you for now 😁). I offer these recommendations based on my own experiences, and hope that they can offer some insight into your own situation.

I will be even more honest–not all of these methods are quick fixes. Nor are they “easy” fixes. But they might at least give you a better idea as to why you have a crush on someone you don’t want to have a crush on. Speaking of which…

The Six Crush Crushers

1. Understand WHY You Like Them

If you have a crush on someone and your first reaction is to be annoyed or frustrated by the crush, chances are you’ve also asked yourself this question:

It is a question, unfortunately, that only you can answer.

What was the moment when everything changed? Did he/she say something that flattered you or do something that put him/her into a beauteous, glorifying light? Did s/he display a unique skill or a hobby that added intrigue to their personality?

Uncovering the reason or moment when you did start liking them can help compartmentalize that moment separately from them as a person. You can learn to appreciate the moment for what it was–and then move on.

2. Get to Know the Crush

I know, I know. Why don’t I just tell you to walk into the sun?

The problem with a crush is that it’s often an idealization. We use most of the time building up crushes with daydreams and fantasies of what we would love to do with them. Forget his/her actual personality; in the safety of our own minds, we can imagine them saying, behaving, or doing anything we want.

So, how to stop fantasy?

Bring in the reality!

Remember: your crush really is just another human being. And there isn’t a single human being on earth that is perfect.

Now, you don’t have to corner your crush and interrogate them until you’ve got a nice ‘n’ proper dossier on their daily activities. Just be more observant of his/her personality whenever natural moments to interact arise. When he/she approaches you to talk…just talk. Make an appropriate joke; see if they respond to your satisfaction.

After enough interaction has happened, one of three results will hopefully occur:

  1. You’ll realize that there is nothing really spectacular about them. They’re a nice person, just…maybe not as much of what you initially thought.
  2. You’ll discover that they’re actually a horrible person. Verbally abusive, toxic, annoying, unforgivably flaky–what were you thinking?
  3. You’ll get to know them for who they are, and you like them for that–not for what you imagined them to be. What’s more, your jittery, idealized nerves will settle, and you’ll sincerely enjoy their company when you seem them. They may even become–gasp–a real friend.

The main point is that, you’re no longer putting them on a pedestal–and honestly, whether they knew you were crushing or not, I think they’ll appreciate that.

Note: If your crush has a significant other, this method may be a little difficult to execute or handle (see crush crusher #4 on why). In that case, I wouldn’t recommend this as the best choice, if it makes you (or them/their SOs) uncomfortable.

3. Block the Crush

This one is difficult to apply if you have daily interaction with your crush (ah, the boss/coworker or roommate conundrum). However, if you can do it without it affecting your daily life, it might be worth trying.

To apply this tactic, you need to be fully disciplined and absolutely airtight.

Avoid them at all costs. Do not communicate with them. Remove them on all your social media. If you can’t bring yourself to remove, at least hide/block them so they don’t appear on your feed.

Stop talking about them to friends and colleagues–not even a casual “you know who” is allowed. If someone starts to mention them while in your presence, plug your ears and sing the hook of VITAS’s “Opera #2” as loud as you can.

AS LOUD. AS YOU CAN.

(Hi-sterical as that may be, probably don’t wanna do this for reals until you’re around people that really, truly understand you. And will forgive you later.)

The rationale behind this method is 100% out of sight, out of mind. Like trash in a computer’s recycle bin, your crush can hang around for a while after you’ve made the choice to dump it. You’ll need a substantial amount of time to pass to give your brain a chance to forget what you adored about them.

A week’s not gonna cut it. Maybe three. A month is safer. Several months, even more so.

And the moment you think to yourself, “Ah, I feel great–like I’ve got my own mind back! I guess I can unblock them and talk to them again.”…

DON'T.

That faux confidence is your mind playing tricks on you. If you are thinking “I’m over them”–you are not over them. Continue to apply all aversion tactics for the next, oh…three to six months. Heck, make it year, just to be sure.

Do you know the only time you should unblock them or talk to them?

…wait. Talk to who?

Exactly.

4. Watch Your Crush Have a Crush on Someone Else

This one…can be painful. And I certainly don’t recommend this method if you can avoid it. That being said, it will certainly dampen any idealizations you may have had.

It is never fun to realize that there is someone else who makes your crush feel the way you feel about them–and it’s not you. It’s human nature to want to be special, let alone be special to your crush.

But life is not like a TV show or film where the imperfect protagonist will, after an hour and a half of watching their love interest cuddle with their SO, magically convince the LI that the protagonist is the one for them all along!

Does it happen?

Well, sure. Sometimes.

But how long do you want to wait for that so-called revelation while, week in and week out, you watch your crush sidle up to their crush to make their own dreams come true?

5. Start a New Crush

What better way to deflect one crush than with the power of another?

By choosing a secondary crush, you diminish the amount of nerve-wracking power the primary crush has over your nervous system. Having multiple crushes can also help remind you that there is no single ideal who completes everything.

Are you attracted to the Black Irish look?

What about a tall guy with a swimmer’s build?

Or a redhead with wide hips and a giggle like a bell?

Welp–why not all of them?

Beauty comes in all forms, and it doesn’t hurt to appreciate them. Besides, the new person you crush on may be a better fit for you in the potential of friendship or even a relationship.

6. Do…Nothing.

Let me explain this one with a story.

A couple of years ago, I met a guy who was–you know, a guy. Let’s call him John. Didn’t have a thought about him, one way or another. Since he hung in some of the same circles, I saw him every now and then. The few times I tried to engage him, he seemed like he…didn’t want to. Okay, fine, I thought, and happily stopped trying.

Then, one day, a girlfriend and I were talking about guys we thought were cute. We threw a few back and forth, and suddenly, she blurted out, “I mean, I think John’s hot.”

I just stared at her, positive she was talking about someone other than the John I was imagining. “John John?”

“Yeah!” she chirped. Just then, as if summoned from a dream, the John in question happen to walk by, but out of earshot. It gave me the ideal opportunity to see him through fresh eyes…

Aaaand still feel nothing.

It took another couple of months, a five o’clock shadow, and a snug turtleneck (when I begrudgingly and absentmindedly checked out his pecs) to develop my crush. However, had my friend never made the comment and planted that seed of thought into my mind, I would have never, ever considered John anything other than…John.

Time passed, and I got to know him organically. Some days I’m sure I made a fool of myself as I wore cute skirts or sat next to him when we all met for lunch. Other times, I stared at him and thought, “Well…he’s not the most parked car in the lot.”

By simply letting time pass as it normally would (and after several random giggle-fests with my GF over John’s forearms or voice), something interesting happened.

The crush faded away naturally.

I didn’t have to go out of my way to do anything. As I progressed through my life and John progressed through his, my choices changed in what made someone crushable in my eyes. His crush model became obsolete; still not bad to look at occasionally, but no longer my ideal.

To Crush or Not to Crush?

Regardless of which method you try, the main point is that having a crush should not be taking over your life or keeping you from enjoying yourself. If thinking about the crush is stressing you out in any way, maybe it’s not the healthiest option for you. And your health is the most important part of everything you do.

Not only that, but the healthier and happier you are, the more you can look forward to someone of quality having a crush on you. 🙂

How to Keep Yourself from Being Stupid Over a Crush

We all know that familiar scenario.

It’s a normal day like any other.  You’re wandering along, minding your business and doing what you know needs to be done.

You notice a guy nearby.  You’ve seen him around every now and then.  Maybe you didn’t notice him too much, no more than anyone else.  He’s kinda cute.

Every few days or so, you two pass each other casually or sit within the same vicinity.  Occasionally, you catch each other’s eye, but you don’t hold the gaze.  It’s whatevs.

Then, one afternoon, after a long day with your defenses down, you hear someone ask, “How was your day?”  The question and the familiarity take you by surprise, and you turn to find the guy looking at you, watching you.  Perhaps he’s smiling.  You strike up an impromptu conversation.  You part, the event a pleasant little light in an otherwise dark day.

A week passes, and the afternoon repeats itself.  To your own surprise, you light up when you hear his familiar greeting:  “How was your day?”  You talk again, longer this time.  He asks you about your job.  You ask him if he loves the outdoors.  He apologizes for bothering you while you read, but can’t help to ask another question.  You suddenly realize the pretty color of his eyes.

That now becomes your thing.  If you see each other at that same time, you find yourself eagerly anticipating the “How was your day?”  You’re smiling at him as you talk and think, “Why does he suddenly look so much hotter than before?”

And suddenly–

Oh, crap.

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You’ve got a crush.

It’d be one thing if you were still, oh, 10 years old.  Back then, the rush of endorphin is new, it’s exciting, it’s a feeling that you don’t remember feeling before.

And then the symptoms!

The flush of your cheeks.

The inability to think straight.

The classic brain mantra of, “Don’t.  Say.  Anything.  Dumb.  For the LOVE.  OF.  GOD.”

But that’s the thing.  You’re not 10 years old anymore.

You’re a grown woman.  A single grown woman.

And dagnabbit, you do not have the time or energy to let a man who at least might be a pleasant new friend, get away due to your fluttery behavior.

You might have already noticed that I just might be in this predicament myself.

Having always been shy in the first place, one thing that I have failed at was opening my mouth and taking chances that I absolutely should have taken when they arose.  I can (unfortunately) count the number of times I have let a (potentially) good catch slip through my fingers, and let’s face it — it is not a fun feeling.  If you’re like me, the regret can linger in the back of your mind for years.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve determined that I would “fool-proof” my crushing behavior by preparing a list of requirements and prohibitions to ensure that I don’t become a stuttering, desperate, annoying moron in the event I do develop an infatuation.  (Note:  creating this list is best done before the hint of any feelings begin, so I am a little late to my own party.)  Better late than never, though, so here we go.

5 Ways to Stay Sane During a Crush

1.  Always look good — for yourself.

I am a strong advocate for dressing for success and looking sexy.  But by all means, do not do it only for the crush.  By “training” yourself to dress for you and feel proud of your appearance, you avoid the stress of only building up those fashion muscles when you see someone cute.

2.  Get enough sleep.

I know, this one may not make a lot of sense.  For those that struggle with this, though, you know — you are antisocial, insecure, and stressed beyond belief when you are not caught up on those zzzzz’s.  And you most certainly aren’t showing your best face.  So, stick in that extra hour of beddy bye, and enjoy fabulous dream…guys.

(Heh — it rhymed.)

3.  Take a mental snapshot of your un-crushing self.

Remember that silly joke you made that no one laughed at?  What about when you danced the Can-Can in the middle of your office space?  Love to twist off the top of your Oreos and save the cream side for last?

Remember those things, and don’t stop doing them if the urge hits you. No man (or person) is worth compromising what makes you so wonderful.

People (aka me) are notorious for completely diluting themselves when in front of someone they only want to impress.  But think about it.  How did you feel when the guy you thought was hot absent-mindedly made a soft whooping noise every time he dodged someone in a crowd?  Exactly:  unique and adorable.

4.  Flirt with him.

Wait.  What?

You heard me.

Go ‘head on and flirt with him.

What did you do when you were young and you had a crush?  Again, if you were like me, you ran.  You averted your eyes, you snapped at him, and you kept your answers short.  Anything to avoid appearing as if you were interested.

Not only was this the stupidest trick in the book, but it probably only made things more obvious that I liked him.

I mean, heaven forbid anyone see what you are doing or saying to this guy.  They’ll…they’ll…

Not…care?

Okay, you’re probably thinking.  Maybe they won’t care, but the guy — the guy will.  And he will be absolutely…absolutely…

…flattered?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that there isn’t a man in the world who doesn’t appreciate a little female attention.  Even if they’re not attracted to you, per se, any decent man wouldn’t say anything too cruel to reject said attention.

(That aside, ditch the dude and the crush if he can’t respect your mature decision to merely enjoy his company as a friend.  You are too awesome to settle for anything less.)

5.  Let it go, let it go.

If or when this guy either stops talking to you or just happens to not be around you anymore…that is fine.

Maybe it was because of something you did, or maybe it had absolutely nothing to do with you.  Doesn’t matter.

As a coworker reminded me today, there are plenty of fish in the proverbial sea.  Pickins may be slim or harder to wade through, but there are certainly still pickins after this guy is gone.  Not only that (this same coworker told me), but if something is meant to be, it will certainly be.  The Universe is really cool like that.


Even as I’m writing this list out, I find myself relaxing.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the physiological responses our bodies unleash when we see a pair of sexy eyes or a nice smile or a pair of soft-looking…kissable…lips…

Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah!  The bottom line:  a crush is a crush, and there’s no need to panic over having one.  Enjoy the sensations knowing you can still have them, and let things flow naturally.

And if you’ve got multiple crushes, the more, the merrier.

Like celebrity crushes!

Hello, Mr. HBK Shawn Michaels.  <3

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