Lessons on How To Use Facebook

Facebook is a great [stalking] tool. I truly hate talking on the phone or at all with most people I’m “friends” with, so it really expedites the process of being a nosy busybody.

Which I am.

However, there are some things that I do NOT want to see on Facebook.

1. Updates on your child’s eating/sleeping/bodily function patterns. Listen, during the weekday, I spend more time with a dozen ADORABLE little kids than their own parents do. And though this somehow hasn’t yet killed my natural desire to have one of my own [SOMEDAY], I like to pretend that children don’t exist on my off hours. And I DO understand what a milestone it is for YOUR family when little Fallen/Rushmore/Lingerie [TRUE STORY] rolls over for the first time, and I give you a pass for that. What I DO NOT give you a pass for is posting a iPhone pic of little Charlenee’s poop face. Unacceptable.

2. Daily wedding countdowns. I know a girl who started on day 183. I told Anne that if I ever morph into some crazed creature like that, she can stab me with my wedding stilettos.

3. In lieu of a child, endearing parent-like posts about your dog, cat, goldfish, miniature giraffe. Hey. You DON’T have a child yet. So stop giving your pets people names, talking to them in baby talk voices, and posting pictures of them with their hair manipulated into crazy styles decked out with bedazzled accessories. I want a GIGANTIC dog one day and will most definitely post pictures of me and my unconditional love factory, but you will not hear me say things like, “Little Sophie has been so naughty this week!” or “Isn’t Charlie just the cutest? He’s top of his class in obedience school!” When I used to call my friends, even if they were married, they’d have things to say about themselves. Now half the conversation is about the headaches of carpooling dogs to the kennel during couples’  vacation and little Caroline’s mischievous streak of hiding dog toys in the dishwasher. I just can’t handle it.

4. “Funny” and “ironic” condemnations of our next end-of-times scare. Yes, I guess we all ARE really still here. Couldn’t have figured that out myself at 6:01. Or from the fifteen other people who posted the exact same status. Bring something new to the conversation or leave it at home.

I’ll stop there. I could go on, but soon it’s just going to get vindictive. What do YOU hate to see on Facebook?

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#20 Google is your Friend

I was at a family reunion just a couple weeks ago, and my brother in law was about to start his umpteenth rendition of his terrible tooth problem and how it resulted in 13 doctor’s visits and was still giving him trouble. I moved away towards my sister because the story is painfully long and kinda gross.

“He’s about to tell his bad tooth story again,” I muttered.

She nodded knowingly, and one of my aunts asked me about my love life. They know all about my history with Ben, from when I first started liking him, to our first date three years later, through our two year relationship and long drawn out breakup/”friendship”. So I mentioned Ben at one point. Or they asked me. I don’t know. Irrelevant?

But my sister turned to me and said, “Ben is your bad tooth, Judy. You need to let it go.”

But. I did something I shouldn’t have.

I’ve been so good the last couple months about ignoring my ex. I hardly visit his Facebook page anymore. I haven’t really sobbed over it since at least January. And I’ve stopped having Carrie-esque dreams where the other Judy suddenly gets drenched with blood at the altar.

Things were going well.

So well, in fact, that I thought I could endure a little internet stalking. Just to indulge my voracious curiosity.

Sigh. Curiosity. My fatal flaw.

I AM sorry that I did it, but what I learned I can’t forget. I didn’t want to know, because I knew I’d have a countdown in my head then, the old school style one with real flipping numbers. And now I do.

It’s 2 months and 5 days until my Ex marries the other Judy.

I thought I’d be ok knowing–I didn’t actually think I’d find out with my limited stalking resources, but the internet surprised even me–but all day I’ve had visions of them wandering through Macy’s with one of those dumb registry guns, picking out their every day plates and glasses, debating bed sheets, negotiating the balance between masculine and feminine color schemes.

And then it kept going–from registry shopping to newlywed house decorating to first born children. Visions of toddlers in car seats in the Ex’s new grown up car, this one with FOUR doors. Meals around the dinner table. High school graduations. Christmases and anniversaries and holding grandchildren for the very first time.

Ben and I have been broken up for five years. We haven’t spoken in over 18 months. It still surprises me how it sucks so much to think about him or hear about him. I try to move on, but there are wounds and then there are scars.

You know what my brother in law needs to do with his dumb tooth? He needs to stop trying to save it. He needs to get it pulled, yanked right away, and get a replacement. Get rid of the problem, get rid of the pain.

Sometimes I freak out because I think I’ll never have the marriage I dream up for everyone else. Even when I’m dating someone, it’s hard for me to think about a point at which I’d be willing and wanting to spend the rest of my life with them. But my brother in law’s tooth story made me realize, I have to let go before I can hope for a new love story. As long as I’m clenching on to the past, I won’t be able to jump into the future.

I don’t know what that means, practically. I don’t know what else I can do that I haven’t already been doing (well, except I should probably stop internet stalking). And I know that I’m letting go, slowly. It’s not on my own time anymore though. There’s a date set for my heart.

By July 30th, 2011, this bad tooth is going to get pulled.

My Third Date with Pete

If I tell you this story with Pete is a trilogy, would that be a big enough hint about how this thing goes down?

Most of my friends, when I told them about our two dates, flipped out. I’m not usually a two-date girl, definitely not a three-date girl, and they could see the potential for another date as well as I could. And I guess that my storytelling skills are better than I thought, because when they asked about it, when I was going to see Pete again, my noncommittal shrug totally baffled them.

Didn’t I want to see him again?

Didn’t I? Did I? I wasn’t sure. We had fun together, post-bowling that is. But at the same time, I wasn’t thinking about kissing him anymore. And when I realized it had been three days since our date and I hadn’t heard from her, all it garnered was a thoughtful, “huh,” and a shrug. Look, I’m all about letting love have time to grow, but I wasn’t even sure if I liked the seeds I was about to plant.

Maybe it WAS the bowling.

My friends blamed my hesitation on my poor sportsmanship during the bowling game. They warned me about the shrinking pool of Dateables our age. They tried to argue the logic of at least seeing Pete one more time. And I could acknowledge that at least, so when he finally texted me after a week and a half of nothing, I played along.

He asked about my plans that weekend, and I gave him a run down of the scheduled events, expecting him to pick a time that was free.

Except, he didn’t. He invited himself to the movies with my best friend and her boyfriend.

That’s cool. It could be like a fun little double date. Besides, a third date is as good a time as any for a guy to meet Anne. If she doesn’t approve, it’s over anyway. Most likely at least.

So I agreed to this. Except I TOLD him, VERY clearly, that we had to be at the movie theatre a half an hour before the movie started. Movies are very important to me and I hated missing previews.

You know what’s coming, right? A text from Pete a half hour before the movie starts, telling me he’s just leaving his apartment, and could I buy his ticket for him to save time? A phone call telling us to go ahead and get seats and that he’ll let us know when he’s arrived. A text five minutes AFTER the movie starts letting me know he’s there and needs his ticket.

An ENTIRE movie spent trying to focus despite the hair playing, “cute” elbow nuzzling, and finger plucking that he must have thought was cute.

Oh, and he TALKED during the movie. Gag on a spoon.

When the credits began to roll and the lights came up, I didn’t know whether to comment on the movie first or introduce Pete to Anne and her boyfriend. It didn’t matter much, since Pete barely gave them more than a head nod.

As we were walking out of the theatre, Pete rested his hand on my elbow, “Can I walk you to your car?”

“Please,” I said. As in, Please, escort me out of this unimpressive situation and thank you for not asking me out to coffee now, or a drink, or some other night-extending waste of time.

When we got to my car, I could tell he was trying to draw me in. And to be honest, I was trying my very hardest not to even look him in the eye. I was disappointed. What happened to the interesting guy who so coyly convinced me to give him my number? What happened to the fun guy who could surprise my expectations by drinks at Applebee’s? What happened to the vulnerable guy who could open up about his emotions in the middle of the bowling alley?

And as I was opening my car door and slipping into my seat for a pucker-free escape, Pete grabbed the door.

“Wait,” he said. — No no please, I thought. — “Let me pay you back for the movie ticket.”

He opened up his wallet. “I’ve only got five bucks.”

He handed me the bill, and I took it like a golden ticket. A guy who waits ten days to text, shows up late for the movie, and barely pays for his own ticket, let alone mine? He sounds just as uninterested as I am. Another promising beginning proved as just the typically unsensational experience. My optimistic side is hardly disappointed–though my cynical side is feeling vindicated, once again.

Maybe we can just be friends. If either of us can ever muster enough motivation to break out our texting fingers again.

#16 Worry about the Girls

The problem with having an amazing community of women to go through this whole single thing with is that sometimes you come up with a conflict of interests.

Especially when you’re all on eHarmony.

My lovely friend Rachel and I are single sisters. We both have a lot of the same wounds from past relationships, we both want a lot of the same things in our future relationships, and we both joined eHarmony around the same time. Despite being in the same Bible study, where we talk a lot about boys and dating anyway, Rachel and I usually get together once a week to talk dirty specifics.

Both of us are at the end of our eHarmony subscriptions, and we’re hesitant about renewing since we’ve had zero luck so far. But the best stories always start in the eleventh hour, and we’ve both recently connected with a match. Yesterday we got together to log onto eHarmony in public places and swap stories. After Rachel shared about her slightly older, sophisticatedly handsome concert pianist, we turned to my match, Josh.

Rachel lit up. “I was matched with him! He’s got the most beautiful blue eyes.”

You cannot tell the color of his eyes from his profile pictures. Which caused me some concern.

“Wait,” I said. “You were matched with him, or you went out with him?”

“No, I sent him a message but he never responded to me. I’m a little bit jealous. He’s SO cute.”

“So… How do you know what color his eyes are?”

Rachel looked at me, a little surprised. “He came to the church picnic in the fall. Didn’t you meet him? I thought he was so cute.”

Beautiful eyes, beautiful smile, beautiful--well, you know.

This is not the first time someone in our Bible study has been matched to someone else in our church. Rachel had previously gone on an eHarmony coffee date with a guy who’s an associate pastor at our church. And it gets even better, because when she related this story at Bible study, ANOTHER of our other members piped up, “Hey, I was matched up with him too!”

In FX’s show The League, you and another guy sleep with the same girl you become Eskimo brothers. In our church, if you and another girl get matched with the same guy you become Match Sisters.

This does not actually promote sisterhood.

Josh is a straight shooter, and he asked me out for a drink right away. I gave him a few possible times and waited to hear back. And while needling another friend for information about Josh, since she too had met him at the beginning of the year at that church picnic where I was too busy talking to Zamboni Driver about plastic bag littering, she said–
“Oh, Hilary was matched with him on eHarmony!”

No way. NO WAY. I didn’t mind that Rachel was matched with Josh, but Hilary? Hilary of Logan persuasion? Is Hilary always going to have some prior–if vague–claim on the guys that I’m interested in? Is she always going to have some involvement in my relationships here in Michigan? I feel like we’re circling each other over guys. Kinda like vultures. Or tigresses. Some sort of metaphor that involves boys being either dead or lunch. Just BACK OFF!

Hello, I'm Hilary. I'm exceptionally pretty and funny and fashionably hipster, and I can look at ease and adorable at any sporting event.

The awkward thing is, I don’t know how much Hilary knows. If she knows that I was spending a ridiculous amount of time with Logan. If she knows that we talk all the time. That we hang out after midnight. She definitely doesn’t know about Josh. But I do. I know it all, and it makes it really difficult to sit next to her and have a small talk conversation. I feel bad. I feel bad for her, and I feel bad about myself.

I know it’s dumb. I know it’s just a match from a dumb computer compatibility software program, and all of us in our church get matched with the same people. It’s just an understood consequence of a group of women looking for the same thing in guys. We’re going to find, literally, the same guys. But it’s HILARY. And I have a history with there being “other girls” in a relationship. Another girl that likes my boyfriend or a girl that an ex sleeps with a week after he told me he loved me or a girl in another country or WHATEVER. There’s always another girl, and Hilary’s starting to feel like the other girl not of any relationship I’m in, but of my life.

She’s really nice, but she recently applied for a job in Boston, and I hope she gets it. Hilary, maybe we could be sisters, but I think first I’m going to need a little time and a little space.

** If anyone has a better term than Match Sister, hit me. **

#11 Realize the Cons of Age Appropriate Relationships

Men like young things.

The thing is, I didn’t think this would be an issue until we were older. I didn’t think men started dating down until we were middle age, until they had bought their ‘penis cars’ and gotten rid of their starter wives. When I’m in my 40s, 50s, that’s when I thought I’d see men toting out their arm candy and I’d be trying to make conversation with girls half my age.

I didn’t think I’d have to deal with the competition when I was 24.

Listen, I understand the attraction. I know there’s deep seeded anthropological sociological desire to be with a woman who’s younger and… more at the top of her baby-making game. There’s the obvious maturity leveler. A man dates a woman half his age in order to feel younger. Or feel like it’s acceptable to act more immature.

But at 25, how much younger can you go? I thought we were the target second wife demographic. I thought I WAS the younger woman. I wasn’t expecting to be disregarded as too old already.

Recently, I found out my ex-boyfriend is dating–oops, sorry, engaged to–a college senior. The age difference really isn’t that great; it’s only a few years. But they started dating when she was a junior. He had already been out of college for a year. It’s not the age difference–it’s the different stages of life. Your worldview as a college student is completely different than the one you hold as a working person. What you think is important, what you’re expecting for the future, what you’re basing your decisions on.

It gets worse. Anne ex-boyfriend, who is 23, is dating an 18 year old. A college freshman. In fact, he met this fair lady when she was a mere 17 years old. Feelings blossomed. Her father told him he couldn’t talk to her until she went to college. What could they possibly have in common? More importantly, why would this young girl, who’s just starting out her college experience, want to shackle herself into a relationship with an older guy–a long distance relationship too.

I’ve seen the other side of this, too. I have a 23 year old friend currently dating a 30 year old man. Sometimes they’ll talk about how he was several years past college graduation when she went to prom or how she was still in elementary school when he graduated high school. It’s weird. Aren’t there any nice single 28 year olds he can date? I feel bad for single women in their late 20s [which I will soon be becoming]. It’s like a whole slice of life when the men you want to be dating are seeing girls who’ve recently thrown a graduation party. However, go much older, and you’re risking all sorts of complications with men in their late 30s–dads, men still living in their mom’s basement, impending midlife crisis.

To be honest, though, I’m not sure I want a 25 year old guy. I feel that single boys at this age are still working out so many residual issues from college [and those that aren’t have already kneeled down and gotten out that ring]. They have a difficult time transitioning from the party scene and hook up culture into real relationships. They’re bouncing around from job to job with the sudden responsibility of putting their degree into action. They migrate college culture into after work social life with their coworkers.

So maybe this all actually works out for the good of everyone. Women date up and men date down, and we’re all equally satisfied. Our exs can have their college girlfriends if we can have our stable career men. And women in their late 20s can have everyone’s wishes of best luck.

#7 Never Meet Anyone

Meeting a Dateable Boy is half the challenge.

Even though I think there are three major challenges to starting a relationship, these three problems don’t have equal weight. The first obstacle, actually meeting a boy, is the most difficult one to overcome. Especially after college, meeting a single, age appropriate boy is like getting to swim with Shamoo. Exciting *and* a little risky.

In a post collegiate stage of life, in our emerging adulthood (aka prolonged adolescent) stage, what is the best way to mingle and mix? When we’re no longer quarantined in classrooms with co-eds of similar age and interests, how do we go forth and conquer? Once we’ve graduated and left all our clubs and societies and drunk dial make out buddies in the rearview mirror, where can we turn?

The most obvious answer is to Pam and Jim it, meeting, falling in love, pretending you aren’t in love, and eventually marrying someone from your work place. Of course, depending on what field you’ve chosen to work in, there may not be a whole lot of Dateables where you work. I was smart enough to pick an industry that’s powered by young men [this backfires when it comes to employment equality and general sexism. Hey, nothing’s ever free]. However, once you meet someone where you work, the question of work place ethics may [or may not] come into play. Earlier this month I was talking with a film industry friend about his stagnated relationship with a girl from a film set we had all worked on in July. AKA, they were still just friends, despite interest from both parties.

“I just like to keep things professional,” he said.

I reminded him that the project we all worked on together ended over three months ago and then continued to expound in my world weary wisdom that the workplace is our prime potential-boyfriend/girflriend meeting place now that we are “professionals.”

He discarded my advice as cynicism. He is still single.

Adorable? Yes. But The Office has an improbably high number of office romances, I think.

Then we have my friend Oliver, who, with his own girlfriend currently out of the country for a year teaching impoverished kids in Honduras, has a lot of time on his hands that he’s decided to convert into a matchmaking service. Having met his own girlfriend through a friend, his business model relies on him being the catalyst to hook up his friends with more of his friends. Last weekend we were out with a bunch of friends when he cornered me.

“You need to meet my friend Jeremy,” he said. “He’s a really great guy. I think you’ll like him.”

Though I was not as convinced of Oliver skills as he himself is, I’m not one to turn down a freebie introduction.

Jeremy was a really nice guy. He also, in the classic blind date movie scene, was crying in his drink by the end of the night about his ex-girlfriend who dumped him two weeks prior [did I mention it was his birthday too?]. There’s not much of a love connection when you’re trying to pat a guy on the back as he bemoans his bitterness about respecting his ex-girlfriend’s wish to save sex for marriage. Yes, I’m sorry that you didn’t get laid when you wanted to. Yes, it all seems very sad. Yes, let’s get him another Long Island.

My friend Calvin thinks it’s a numbers game. Dateables are all around us, we’re just too busy or too shy to make our own luck and introduce ourselves. And we shouldn’t let rejection get us down. He’s started pushing himself to say hi to five or six women a day to 1. open the doorways of communication and 2. get used to rejection.

If anyone's interested in rejecting this face, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

I see the value in this. Who hasn’t been out and about in a bookstore or on a train or skinny dipping and seen someone across the lake who’s quite handsome and heard some snippet of conversation that’s peaked our interest? Characters on TV and in movies never have problems turning this moments of interest into actual encounters, dates, and a little lip-locking. Could it also be that easy in real life?

On the other hand… the numbers game makes me uneasy. What’re the chances that this person who snagged your attention based on looks or uncontextualized conversation alone could be both a Dateable and someone who actually shares your interests, worldview, and taste in music? The numbers game is a tricky one to play, and as someone who took Statistics pass/fail because she knew enough about math to realized that to do otherwise would ruin her GPA, I might sit that one out. It’s like playing the Powerball with your required list of Dateable characteristics. You wait for each numbered ping pong ball to pop up. Singleness–match. Looks–match. Geography–match. You’re getting excited by this point. Sense of humor–match. Desired number of kids–match. You’re standing on your couch, bated breath. Faith–Ahhh, hybrid Mormon-Hindu! Why, Lord, why??

Number one hurdle–meeting a Dateable Boy.

That being said, I met someone this weekend. I crashed a law student bowling night, because I like sneaking in places I’ve been invited but clearly don’t belong, and I met a nice, funny, tall Dateable boy. I could wear my favourite four inch wedge heels and still be shorter than him.

So maybe it’s a numbers game of meeting the people your friends work with. Maybe to jump the hurdle without crashing into them you’ve got to combine all these approaches. Or none. Maybe there’s no best way to meet people. All I know is that now that I’ve met a Dateable, there’re still a lot of hurdles to clear.

Because, of course, meeting the boy is just half the challenge.