Archive for December, 2010

Real world stories and solutions: How to re-route the make-out

December 21, 2010

What’s more awkward than a crowded winter subway train where people’s bodies are squished like sardines amidst winter coats, newspapers, and morning coffee?

A guy giving you his number on a crowded winter subway train where the people’s bodies are squished like sardines amidst winter coats, newspapers, and morning coffee.  Yep.  That was my morning.

Winter brings the cold.  The cold brings out the gloves.  The gloves hide the wedding ring on the third finger on my left hand.

Ordinarily, for example in a quiet cafe, I’d be flattered and have the opportunity to discretely decline.  But with about 7 people pressed up against us, looking on and within earshot, I spoke the truth, worked through the awkward moment where I told him that I couldn’t call him because it would be inappropriate because I am married, but continued on to the fact that if I ever needed software design or help with a neighborhood watch or flea market, I’d be sure to contact him.  When I first started speaking, it was clunky and he looked visibly uncomfortable.  As I persevered, a look of relief came over his face as I continued past the words of awkwardness to the words that indicated that I had actually been listening to him while he was speaking.   We parted with a smile and all was well.

Make-out re-route successful!

In my earlier post, I talked about how simply “using our words” can flush out confusion and misunderstanding in the particular arena of dating.  Often one person is ready to race ahead while the other is left wondering “how things got so physical so fast!”  Simply “using our words” to communicate to the other, where we are and what is appropriate, allows us to avoid the game of charades, confusion, and mishaps.

This post is more about my real world stories and (hopefully) the solutions that you can use to avoid adventures like these of your own.

Expensive Dinner Danger
Ok, so this story is one where I thought I was being clear enough in the beginning but later discovered that I just needed to state my position more directly.

One day several years ago I was sunbathing in Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow with some friends.  A friend of one of my friends came over towards us and started to get chatty with me.  Seeing as though I happened to be reading the Bible (not my usual reading material for Central Park btw) and after hearing that I worked for the Catholic Church, and that I attended mass on every Sunday – and sometimes daily, I figured that the chattiness would soon cease.  (These facts usually scared off guys.)  Instead, to my surprise, he persisted.  He mentioned that he had attended Catholic High School and that one of his good friends was a priest.  So, when he asked me out, I thought, “Sure, why not?”

He called me after a couple of days to schedule the time and place for the date.  He said that he wanted to take me out to dinner and wanted to know if I had any favorite places or if there were cuisines that I didn’t like.  I told him that I enjoyed just about any cuisine, but that I prefered foods with a lot of flavor vs a place that just serves a lot of food.  Quality over quantity.   Warning ladies: this is where the make-out re-route should have started.  My advice (now that I’ve learned my lesson) is to keep first dates to coffee, tea, snacks – something short – AND NO ALCOHOL.  I thought I was trying to allow the man to lead – to decide what to do on the date, but what I really did was allow him to set the pace – and set it much faster than I was wanting. Warning: the bridge is out!

So he invited me to go to an expensive all you can eat meatfest.  It was one of those Brazilian meat-a-thon places where the waiters literally bring you 20+ kinds of meat on gigantic skewers they recently extracted from the fire pit.  There was a double-sided paper: green for “go, I want more food” and red for “stop, please don’t serve me anymore or I will explode.”  (Perhaps he mis-heard my statement on not liking huge quantities of food?)  By the way ladies, if you are ever wondering where the men are in this town, the answer is: at one of these meatfest restaurants.  There had to be a 30 to 1, guy to gal ratio in that place.  Go where there is meat and you shall find the men.

This was another make-out re-route point; once I learned that the dinner was expensive, I could have suggested another less expensive option for our FIRST date. Now, gals and guys, I’m not saying that you CAN’T go out on an expensive date.  I’m just saying that you should at least save that for AFTER the first date.

Fast forward through dinner and a clunky conversation, and you’d find us walking uptown for a few blocks towards Columbus Circle.  It was such lovely weather that I had said that I was going to walk home and he offered to walk uptown with me before I turned to head across town.  He asked if we could talk for a little at the fountain in the circleMake-out re-route number 3: I should have seen the fountain and moonlight as a make-out scene from a movie, but I never saw it coming!!!  Mostly, I think, because the conversation had been so clunky. I could have suggested that we simply part ways and leave further conversation for later, but nooooooooooooooo.  I didn’t.

So we sat down at the fountain and we ended up talking about random things when all of a sudden he swooped in for a kiss.  ACK!  Just in the nick of time I remembered to turn my brain on and stop the swoop for the kiss.  In the clunkiest way I think I mumbled something like: “I… I…. I’m not sure that you really know who I am.”  Which does NOT really make sense.  Who am I, a super hero about to reveal my true identity? Fortunately it was enough to make him say, “What?” So I explained, “Well, you see.  I’m really, REALLY Catholic.  I don’t just read the Bible in the park and go to church on Sunday.  I am really, really, really Catholic.”

He was still confused.  I’m not surprised that he was confused.  These days people have come across so many Catholics (including myself in earlier more naive years) who call themselves “Catholic” but don’t walk the talk, that they don’t know what being a practicing Catholic means.

So instead of going through the theology of why I believed what I believed and how I came to believe that, I simply stated the point I was trying to get across to him:  “I will not be sleeping with you or anyone until we are married.  I’m waiting  until my wedding night.  I’m not having any sort of sex until I’m married to the person.” Make-out re-route complete, but with drama.

Get this…

His reply: “This is sooooo stupid.  Oh my gosh.  What are you doing?  You are so beautiful.  What a waste!  What a horrible terrible waste!  Because of some stupid religion you are going to ‘wait till you are married?’  Well, let me tell you – NO man will wait for that.  No man is going to agree to that.  You are going to end up old and alone.”

Old and alone.

The words rang through my head as if someone had just whacked one of those gigantic gongs next to my head leaving my head ringing as if it was the bell at the top of Quasimodo’s tower.

He spouted off some stuff about me being wrong about religion and God – that God had really just come to earth as Jesus because he couldn’t understand us humans.  (That’s a heresy, btw.  God did NOT send His Son so that He could get to know us better….)

This is where it got nasty.  He stood up and said:  “How could you do this to me!  How could you let me take you to that expensive restaurant if you weren’t going to sleep with me!  Man I really thought we could have something here.  I mean, you’re the kind of girl that I would actually want to be my girlfriend, not just a one night stand.  (Oh Romeo, kill me quickly!) How could you do this?  Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

To which I answered, “Let me remind you, you met me in the park.  I was READING THE BIBLE.  I work for the church.  I go to church.  That didn’t clue you in?”

Sadly, it did not.  This guy had been blindsided by my revelation of the existence of chastity.  I thought my game of charades would have led him to KNOW that I wasn’t going to be making out with him at the end of the first date or sleeping with him in exchange for dinner.  I now know that “using my words” is best and that getting it out in the open will avoid situations like this.

I’ve got more stories, but for now I’m going to close this post by saying that even though the above situation was extremely awkward, it was well worth it.

1.) If it weren’t for me, that man might have gone through life thinking that chastity had died out with the dinosaurs.

2.) It gave me the opportunity to stand up for what I believe in.

3.) It gave me the opportunity to persevere – to wait for a man who would wait to have sex AND who would love me for it.

I don’t know what ever happened to that guy, but I do know that I’m not old and alone.  I’m happily married to a wonderful man.  Take that and put it on a skewer!  ;o)

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Setting the pace: How to re-route the make-out

December 20, 2010

A friend of mine recently asked me the dreaded question, “How do you clue the guy into the fact that you are interested in a date, but not a make-out session?”

Or how about the even more awkward question, “How do I let a guy know that I want to wait to have sex (and that means all kinds of sex) until marriage?” and, “How do I do this without scaring him off, without seeming like I’m a puritanical museum artifact, and that this viewpoint is not because I’m following orders, but because I know what’s best for me?”

(We aren’t prudes or afraid of physical intimacy, it’s just that we don’t want to get physical before we know enough about the person to TRUST them with our hearts.)

Well gals, it’s tricky – but the good news is, all you have to do is reset the pace.

What not to do: Keep silent and hope he gets the drift.

This approach never works and ends up being like a bad game of charades.  We gals always hope that men will read our minds.  We gals hope for that magical moment when we find that perfect charades partner who seems to know the answer before we even begin to act out the clue.  Newsflash ladies: this will never work ESPECIALLY ON A FIRST DATE.

If we take this approach, men will be left literally scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

How do we reset the pace?  How do we ensure that we are on the same page? We use our words.

When my youngest niece, Bonnie, was about 3 1/2 years old, I lived with her and her family during a time of employment transition (aka unemployment). While living there, I learned a HUGE lesson that aided me in my future dating scenarios and current marriage.

Often Bonnie became frustrated and cranky.  Her parents came to quickly realize that she was most angered when we weren’t doing something the WAY she wanted.  (Typical for little tykes, but also typical for most adults I know. 😛 ) So her parents used a simple phrase that helped little Bonnie to remember that we couldn’t read her mind and that if she wanted us to behave in a certain way she would simply have to, “use her words.”

So my advice to you ladies (and actually this goes for you too, guys), use your words. Just get what you are thinking out in the open.  Say it.

My second piece of advice is to learn the skill of: say what you mean and mean what you say. That means that your actions should back up your words.  Make your body language match what your mouth is saying, but always remember to make your mouth say what you have thought about in advance. (This one is really three parts.  Part 1 is thinking about what you are going to say.  Part 2 is saying what you really mean – don’t dance around the issue or be unclear.  Part 3 is mean what you say – make your actions match your words.)

My third piece of advice is to learn the skills of gentleness and kindness. These skills are VERY different from the skills of politeness and discretion. Politeness and discretion can be easily misapplied in a dating scenario and that can lead to awkwardness and disaster.  Gentleness and kindness will allow you to speak the truth, communicate what you mean, leave no room for misunderstanding, always result in some sort of awkwardness, and in the end, be best for both parties. Given the fact that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently, we are going to have to be more blunt than we are used to.  So I encourage you to persevere just when you think perhaps you should back out.  (I’ve noticed that both guys and gals seem to want to avoid the awkwardness of truth.  Truth is good – don’t avoid it!)

Incidentally:

My encouragement to speak up about one’s intentions is also distantly connected to St. Ignatius Loyola.  (ok – stay with me now, it’s a windey journey, but I’ll try to explain the connection.)   I came upon this insight when I was learning about the Ignatian Rules of Discernment, which were taught by St. Ignatius Loyola.  (If you want to know more check out the books by Fr. Timothy Gallagher; Remember, I’m greatly summarizing here:)  St. Ignatius explained that in the fight between good and evil, the bad spirit leads one away from the good intended for them and thereby towards what is bad for them.  St. Ignatius further explained in the 13th Rule of the 14 rules,  that this bad spirit desperately wants to keep things secret.  This is because it desires confusion and misunderstanding AND it desires isolation.  The opposite of isolation is community.  Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.”  Isolation = bad.  Community = good.

So instead of being in isolation about your plans to re-route the make-out or to save sex for later (until marriage), talk about it.  Mention it. Once it’s out in the open, it’s no longer a ‘conversation in isolation’ in one’s head.

Ladies: DO NOT preface this revelation to a man with, “We need to talk.”  That phrase in itself is frightening.  Just be honest about who you are and what you want and the subject will come up naturally.  Heck, because guys are fertile 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they think about sex 24 hours a day,  7 days a week, so the subject is bound to come up VERY soon.

Perhaps the dance floor will provide us with a metaphor to more easily understand this advice.  Ladies: if you ever find yourself on the dance floor and you feel a little dizzy because the gentleman twirled you around one too many times, you could:

a.) not say anything and hope the guy gets the idea once you puke on his shoes.

b.) quietly say to him, “I’m a little dizzy, could we do fewer twirls for the moment?”

c.) answer his, “Would you like to dance?” with, “LISTEN BUDDY! I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I’M TIRED OF BEING MADE DIZZY BY ALL OF THOSE OTHER GUYS, SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO DANCE WITH ME, THEN YOU ARE GONNA HAVE TO CUT OUT ALL OF THAT TWIRLING!!!!!”

In this example, we can clearly see that option “b”, while a bit awkward, is much better than the puke on the shoes in option “a” and much better than the crazy lady yelling at the top of her lungs in option “c”.  “Using our words” in option “b” allows the man to know what is appropriate so that we can both continue to have a happy fun time.

As I’ve said before, there are no mathematical equations for ensuring non-disaster dates because it involves two complex individuals and too many variations to summarize in one short blog post.  But seeing as though most people just want to hear real life situations and real life solutions to the questions they have, I will rehash a number of my dating adventures  in my next post with the following question in mind: How do I re-route the make-out?