When I asked you guys to fill out a reader survey, I expected you might ask me about my status as a single DIYer. Does that mean I’m not dating at all? Do I even have time to have a love life? And what’s with the teaser photos on Instagram?
Okay, I made up the last one because Jami from What the Graham is obsessed with my love life. And I like messing with her, so every time I hang out with a buddy of mine, I take a picture of him and post it on Instagram to keep her guessing.
But as for my love life? Really? Oh, what the hell – let’s get into it. And just because it’s fun and will let you get to know me better, I’m splashing some of my favorite quotes all over this post.
Let’s back up for a sec though
When I bought the Ugg-Duck back in 2009 (just before New Years, 2010), I was already living in an apartment with my boyfriend, Scott. After closing, we moved into the house together and had some interesting first nights discovering what homeownership might be like. But for those that are curious, it was always my house (his name was never on the mortgage or the title). He basically paid me rent and utilities so that we could split costs 50/50. I paid for all of the renovation projects from my own pocket (since he owned no equity in the house, it didn’t seem fair in case we ever broke up for him to sink money into a house he didn’t own).
We lived in the house, worked on a few projects together, and did the normal things that two people sharing a home do. I started a blog about all of the funny realizations my new house subjected me to; Scott started a new job that he fell in love with. After another year of living together, traveling together, and everything else, the lives of the people around us were changing. Most of our friends were now married; some were having kids; my sister got engaged. And I realized that with all of the changes going on around us, it was something I wanted, too. I changed jobs. I was ready for taking next steps and building a life with someone. But I also realized that the relationship I was in wasn’t making either of us happy anymore. We’d been together for a long time, but we didn’t see each other with the same eyes anymore. After a long discussion, we both saw that it was time for us go our separate ways. It was sad. And it was really awkward for me to announce to a bunch of strangers and friends on the internet.
Just before Scott moved out, he began applying to grad school and got me interested in the program I’m in now. So when it comes to relationships teaching you something, an MBA is a pretty nice thing for both of us to walk away with! We are still friends, still have a lot of the same mutual friends, and have lunch every once in a while to catch up (we did just last week, actually). I sometimes miss saying hello to his family, and really miss his dog. That furball left such a hole in this house, I had to get my own. That’s how I wound up with Charlie, and my life wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s my family.
Let’s fast forward
Six months after the breakup, it was still hard for me to blog about. When talking about the house to family and friends (most of whom were mutual friends), I almost always mentioned a project I’d worked on with another person who was no longer living there. It was awkward. And talking about my hobbies to someone new? I love talking about the house, but referencing one’s ex is weird and seemed unavoidable until I got a few solo projects finished.
I was also starting a new chapter. I would be starting school again and on my way to a graduate degree. I’d meet new people, start new friendships, and most importantly, I’d be doing something I knew would be worthwhile. ”MBA by thirty” would be crossed off the bucket list. My career had somewhat plateaued thanks to a struggling economy and no future opportunity of promotion at the company I was working for. I’d found a new job, but I was starting over again. And after spending years in a long-term relationship that had also ended, I felt like my entire life was in need of a jump start Something to make me feel like I was moving forward again.
I wasn’t really in a head space for dating again. I was more sure of what I wanted from a relationship than ever, but every time I came around someone I was attracted to (a rarity), I felt like I’d shrunk. I was intimidated and nervous, which is not like me at all. I don’t know of a better way to describe it than to say I felt smaller. Not filling out my own skin. But that feeling only seemed to exist in the dating part of my world. Everywhere else felt like I excelled. I got into my grad program with only an interview (I didn’t have to even take exams before acceptance!). My clients at work were happy and some were even making comments to my supervisor to give me a raise (which is always nice to hear!). The blog was receiving new interest and I lined up my first few sponsors. I committed to attending my first-ever blogger’s conference where I’d meet tons of like-minded, passionate DIYers. And all the while, the house and pup were happy and hitting their own milestones.
Six more months…
The blog was growing more. The house was moving sluggishly along with my new school commitments, but I was doing very well in my grad program. I began working out and discovered how much I enjoyed bikram yoga and running.
I sang in the shower (and the car, while painting… pretty much everywhere) again and put a fresh smile on my face. I went to the salon, bought a few new clothes, and found genuine satisfaction in the way I presented myself to the world. I felt confident and attractive. I was completely out of my breakup funk. I paid more attention to making time for long-starved friendships. I got asked out occasionally, but not by anyone I clicked with. Strangely, I was hit on more than a few times at – of all places – gas stations (it happened enough times to suspect it was an elaborate prank being played on me). There were a few situations where guys I was not interested in wouldn’t stop asking me out, and the one or two guys I was interested in didn’t notice me. Ha – isn’t that how it goes?
Don’t read too much into it
An old acquaintance says hello on an ordinary day. He asks me out; I say yes. We have a great first date. We have a good second one. We don’t see each other much (school, job, conflicts, etc.) over a few months but I have a good time when we do. I realize I have expectations I’ve never had before and am easily disappointed. I admire new things and am also less stubborn than past relationships (so, hooray for that at least). I believe more than ever in love but don’t see it in our future. I convince myself that wanting more isn’t a character flaw. Then I remember how easy it is to fall for a guy I really click with. This wasn’t it.
I don’t meet a lot of new people who aren’t already married (that’s including my grad school program; it’s designed for me to see the same 25 people all the time for the entire two-year period, save a few elective courses). My female friends are mostly married and many of them have children. They also drop hints at wanting to set me up; I just think it’s awkward. Not because my friends’ friends aren’t probably great people; but “He’s awesome!” is the new “He’s got a great personality!” Not. Fooling. Anyone.
I tried online dating briefly at about the nine-month post-breakup mark. I tried it for only a month. I felt so uncomfortable and weirded out by it that I don’t think I could ever do it again. I know plenty of people who are happily married thanks to meeting online; I just don’t think it’s for me.
Another personal preference thing: even if I’m interested, I don’t ask men out. I’m kind of old school about first dates. Dropping a hint or two is usually enough. I’ve tried asking a guy out before, sure. But I know myself. Experience has taught me that if he’s not taking taking the lead on a first date, I’ll only wind up frustrated in a relationship with him, too (Sidenote: the way my ex asked me out was simply to look at me deadpan and state, “We’re going out Friday night.” He sounded so sure that I believed him). And this has absolutely nothing to do with a guy being the quiet type or not. I like the quiet type, the rugged type, the suit and tie type… I guess that means I don’t really have a type. But I know it when I see it. :)
I’m not mending a broken heart, but I do sometimes feel loneliness and want to find someone to share my life with. Pretty sure I’m ready for that. I think feeling lonely from time to time is a normal part of being single (and living alone with a dog and very little social life). This has been the longest I’ve ever been single, though. I think that’s also (probably) normal when you’re more sure of what you’re looking for.
What I know I want
- That whole pitter-patter-I-can’t-stop-smiling-even-when-I-try thing. Butterflies in my stomach. I vaguely remember it.
- Someone who is kind. Someone who makes me want to be kinder, too (and is both patient with me when I’m not and who I am uncharacteristically patient for in turn). Especially when a pipe is still leaking and I’ve had my fourth meltdown of the week.
- Someone with a working brain. I think my biggest pet peeve lately is the moment when I realize I can almost see the things I say whizzing above a person’s head (funny, that didn’t matter as much in college…)
- Someone who is comfortable with themselves, flaws and all. I admire the hell out of fearlessness (that goes for women too; most of my closest friends are badasses in their own unique ways). There’s just something about a person who accepts that they won’t make everyone happy and they’re okay with that (but doesn’t purposely try to piss people off; that’s obnoxious). I act like a ten-year-old around the people I trust most; knowing that I can just be me is pretty damn important (because they’re not going to get me to be anyone else either).
- Someone who plans for the future but doesn’t shy away from the fun of not knowing what comes next. Who likes traveling and trying new things. Who understands how much I like surprises (even though I constantly seek control).
- Duh – someone who gets my sense of humor. I like a guy who makes me laugh, sure. But I like making someone else laugh, too.
- This one may seem weird, and in many ways, it’s merely symbolic: Someone who I don’t have to ask to hold the camera. Sharing my life with someone = I’m a part of it. Not just the one snapping photos of the other person having all the fun. Looking back on my life, I want to see that I was there!
Basically, I’m looking for someone who is looking for the right person too. Something worthy of the time it takes to combine my life with someone else’s. I’m stealing this quote from another single DIYer’s bathroom wall because it sums it up nicely:
I don’t consider my home and all of the other things going on in my life to be something that interferes. I think if I met someone I’d like to spend time with, I’ll make the time. I always have for the things that really matter. But until then, and even after then, I’m going to continue doing the things I love.