One of my goals since moving to the east coast a few months ago has been to be more social. I decided that I was going to make an effort and go on some dates. I set a personal goal of going out with someone at least once a week. So far it’s been going pretty well with the exception of that one time I caught feelings too fast and ended up rather heartbroken. But that’s another story for another time. This one is about a date that I had last week. I’m on a rather popular site for dating that will remain nameless and there was a guy who had been messaging me for a while. He would write the occasional greeting and ask for a chance to get to know me. Regular stuff. So night I was bored and decided to respond (bad idea). He wrote me back almost immediately and asked for my number. I sent him the one that I give to people that I don’t know. Yes, I have one. Too many years of working in mental health and medical settings will have you protecting any little bit of privacy you can have. But I digress. John (definitely not his real name) called me right after I sent my number. He asked me what I wanted in a relationship and I gave my usual response of getting to know someone and seeing how it goes. He told me a bit about himself. He was from Nicaragua and worked in a blue collar trade job. He was in his early 30s and had never been married and didn’t have any children. He enthusiastically told me that he had just gotten his drivers license back after having it taken away for unpaid tickets and that he didn’t have his own place and was crashing at his own place. “But that’s ok baby, we’ll just hang out at your place,” he said. First of all, I don’t appreciate the assumption that I’m going to invite you over at any point. That’s a privilege reserved for a select few. John said that he wanted to spoil me and prove that he was the best man for me. He asked me out for dinner the next night to a Peruvian restaurant that was fairly close to my house. I could tell that he was hoping even at this early stage that he would get an invite over to my place after dinner. So I promptly crushed his hopes and dreams (very nicely of course) and let him know that I don’t get down like that. Because you know, standards and everything. So we agree to meet up the next day. Tomorrow comes and I get the generic “good morning beautiful” text message which never ceases to annoy me unless it comes from someone I think is beautiful and then it’s ok. He sent me a picture of his face as well and then asked for feedback. I don’t think I responded because sometimes the best answer is no answer. So the evening came and I arrived at the restaurant on time and parked. No John. He called me to say that he was running late. No biggie. So in order to make the best use of my time I checked in via text message with one of my other friends and caught up on what was going on in their life. John arrived about 20 minutes late and blamed traffic. Whatever. We are immediately seated by the waiter and we sit. John starts conversing with the waiter in Spanish asking about the drink options. I order water and politely decline his offer of alcohol. I try not to drink with people I don’t know plus I know I’ll have to drive home and it’s a weekday so I have work in the morning. Then the interrogation begins. He asks me multiple times if I like what I see. In the true spirit of avoidance I reply that he looks just like his picture. He shows me the obnoxiously big cross that’s hanging from a chain on his neck and declares (somewhat loudly) that he is a follower of Jesus Christ and a die hard Catholic. Instant turn off. I’m not particularly religious but I can appreciate the value that religion brings to the lives of millions. He then follows up his profession of faith with an extremely graphic description of the things that he would do if we were behind closed doors. He talks at length about how happy I’d be if I would just give him a chance and take him home. He promises that once I’ve had a “real man” aka him I’ll never go back. Now granted I haven’t been in the game that long but I do know that the more someone talks about their abilities and skills in that particular department, the worst they are at actually following through. It’s like their insecurities do all the talking and when push comes to shove their actions can’t cash the check their mouth made. Small pet peeve of mine. While the waiter at the table was semi-attentive, the food took a while (40 minutes) to get to our table. So John amused himself by talking to the couple at the table next to ours. One of which was a doctor. John immediately proceeded to ask a diagnosis question about some radiating pain in his neck that he had been having for a while. I wanted to crawl underneath the table. This is why I rarely introduce myself as a therapist because then people stay asking questions and sometimes I just want to be off the clock. But I digress. Finally the food came and John proceeded to eat his food loudly and messily. He chewed with his mouth open as he talked about his childhood and told me how much money had made last year. Then he started to ask me if he would see me again and I gave the most noncommittal answer known to man. “We’ll see.” However, technically it’s just a nice way to say no. The meal is finally over and he decides he wants to walk me to my car. Once we’re there he proceeds to try to put his hand down my pants in broad daylight and kiss me. I quickly extricate myself and get into my car and drive away. Date over. Never to happen again. He texted me the next morning and messaged me on the site. John also took the time to include a picture of a certain part of his body telling me that I didn’t know what I was missing out on. I could clearly see that I’m wasn’t missing anything whatsoever. I was actually winning because once again my theory about big talkers had been proven true. So after a few other pictures and messages about all the things that he had planned for me, I blocked him (thanks google voice). Case closed.
I always attempt to not tell personal stories too soon after the fact so that I doesn’t seem like I’m going after anyone. Anyway, this story is about 2 years old so I figure that it’ll be ok. Here goes:Two years ago I lived in a western state and decided that I was going to try online dating. I didn’t have any prospects and figured that after years of “focusing on school and my career” that it was time to at least test out the waters to see if the bad luck of college had followed me through graduate school. I created a profile on a very popular website that has tv commercials all the time talking about how people are matched based on their compatibility in multiple areas. I got matched with someone and went through all the preliminary questions in order to finally message him. I’ll call him “Sam.” Now, Sam looked really good on paper. He enjoyed playing soccer, had a masters degree and seemed pretty well rounded. We started talking and he asked for my number. Not too long afterwards he called me and we chatted for a bit. He had a Caribbean accent and seemed ok. He asked me out on a date and I picked a burger place not too far from where we both lived. I drove out to the place and got there early as usual. I went inside to wait for him. So he got there and he didn’t look like his picture. I take it back, he looked like his “from the shoulders up” picture. But I was looking at him in his eye. We were the same height. Now, I know height is something that can’t be changed and that no one has any control over so I kept an open mind. We got out seats and sat down and proceeded to order food. At that point I told him that I was a vegetarian and homeboy was flabbergasted. You would have thought that I said I was the offspring of aliens from Mars. “You’re just so weird,” was said multiple times during the conversation in response to other things that I disclosed (like being homeschooled). The food arrived with his coming first and he proceeded to eat while I was still waiting for my food. I understand that there are people who weren’t raised to wait for others before just digging in but I was still somewhat annoyed by his declarations of how weird I was. The conversation continued. He said that he was ready for a serious relationship and marriage and asked if I was on the same page. However under closer inquiry he disclosed that he lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 of his friends and didn’t intend to get his own place anytime soon. Fine. Rents are high, you save money when you can split bills. Then he says that he doesn’t have a car . I asked why because it clearly wasn’t a financial issue (he was a CPA working for a decent sized firm), and he said that he didn’t think it was necessary. But you’re “ready” for a wife and kids? The conversation ended soon afterwards (to be honest I was just tired of being called “weird” 20 times in a row). When the bill came I’m pretty sure we split it as he didn’t offer to pay for what I ordered. We start to go outside and I realize how dark it’s gotten and I look at him. The poor thing doesn’t look like he could defend himself against anything, he looked about 115lbs soaking wet. He had taken the bus to the restaurant. So, out of some maternal urge to help someone in their time of need I had compassion (maybe pity) on him and offered to drive him home. He eagerly accepted the offer. So I took him home. He thanked me for not leaving him to wait for the bus in the dark. He tried to hug me before he got out the car and it was the most awkward hug I’ve ever experienced. He asked me when we were going to get together again. I smiled and never replied. Ever.
I saw this CNN article and found it pretty relevant to my life because I work in a crisis type of position. You can read the article here. One thing that was interesting was the fact that many social workers and crisis counselors report that they like their job. This wasn’t surprising to me because despite all the craziness and unpredictability of my job, I don’t mind it. People get into a helping profession for a variety of reasons. In my case, I can’t NOT help people and I figured that I might as well have a job that allows me to do that. I’ve had stressful jobs in the field of social work before, but nothing comes close to the emotional drain from crisis work. It’s the kind of job that make you want to take a month long vacation after every shift. However, it’s also meaningful and you get the chance to encounter people from various walks of life and separate those who truly want help from those who don’t want any help. The article noted some great ways to deal with the stress that comes along from constantly working with people who facing some pretty big life challenges. There was an article I read not too long ago about a email that was intercepted from a social worker to another that contained some inappropriate humor that caused a public outcry. While the things crisis counselors deal with is not a laughing matter, sometimes you have to see the humor in things. It’s similar to the whole idea of laughing instead of crying as you see the dark side of humanity over and over again. It’s the kind of job that has really high highs with lows that are just as dramatic. The ability to disconnect is so important in this kind of field and I think it’s the reason why there’s an abundance of impromptu happy hours between colleagues who work in the field. All that being said, it’s a fun but hard job and I honestly believe that to have longevity in this type of field you have to have a pretty effective way of taking care of yourself so that you don’t get burned out.
Recently I have come to the conclusion that I really really really hate school. At least the regular kind. This epiphany comes on the wake of realizing that I have total of over 29 pages to write in the next week or so. While I prefer these 12 week quarters to the 10 weeks that I had in graduate school, I still don’t want to do the work. One of the challenges of distance learning is that you have to be so disciplined because you don’t attend class every week. I think that my irritation with school comes from the fact that this is only my 5th consecutive year of traditional education. Being homeschooled, I had the freedom to learn what I wanted to learn without any restrictions or guidelines on how it should be done. My high school education was done through a correspondence course that included many of the typical subjects but all the tests were open book. No big deal. It was only in college that I actually had to learn to study in order to learn the information required to pass tests. However, after a certain point, tests were obsolete and all methods of examination were by essay. I remember a final exam that was six blank pages with one question per page and it was the expectation of the teacher that each page be full with writing as you answered the questions. I’m sure that my annoyance with school is partially due to the fact that I have a slight problem with procrastination. I say slight because although I don’t usually wait to the last minute, I still put it off more than I should. I have a lot of respect for people who have completed a doctorate and now I understand why so many people insist on being called by their title of “doctor.” That being said, I’m taking a break from school after this doctorate. A very long, and a very much needed break. That being said, let me return to this very large, endless, and pretty much pointless pile of papers to write.
I’ve never been 100% down with the I’m-good-by-myself-and-I-don’t-need-a-man movement. However, I think that hanging your entire life on the idea that one day you’ll meet someone who fulfills your every want and need and will love you unconditionally forever is incredibly stupid. Notice I said ENTIRE life. We all have dreams and goals and having a significant other is likely to be one of them. I have heard numerous women talk about “him.” How “he” is going to find them and pay for everything, put them in a Benz or a Beamer, and love them. This picture made me laugh but also made me think at the same time. It’s important to know who you are and what you like. That way, if you get screwed over in a relationship and find yourself single again, you won’t have to start from scratch and re-find your identity. Just saying….