July 24, 2013

Things I'm Terrible At: Turning Him Into My Boyfriend

Ah, the thrill of the hunt. Will I ever tire of it? The endless parade of men, each more delicious than the last, marching by one after the other and nothing for me to do but pick one out, straighten my hair, bat my baby blues and enjoy the ride.

Always sunny, indeed.

Okay, so it's not exactly like that. For one thing, dating is no well-timed parade. A cluster of available men tends to show up all at once after a months-long dry spell, usually two or three at a time, demanding a level of juggling prowess that I have yet to achieve.

Inevitably, at least two of them strike my fancy. Handsome lemons in hand, my juggling act commences. We spend some time together. Maybe meet some of each others' friends. The lemons are arcing effortlessly through the air. But right around the time things start looking good with one guy, I find myself irresistibly attracted to the other. Or he asks to be introduced to one of my friends. Or I indulge in a little too much vino and get mouthy. Or it turns out he has a girlfriend. (Pro Tip: Ask about girlfriends, wives and kids before the first date. Trust me.) And the lemons fall gracelessly from their perfect parabolas and I end up back where I started: marooned in a date-less desert waiting for the next poorly-timed man grenade to go off and disorder my life all over again.

I'm terrible at turning him into my boyfriend.

It's not that I don't want a boyfriend, per se. In theory, regular sex and a movie-going companion sound pretty great. But the stage between "Meet Cute" and "Make Dinner Together, Then Spend the Night on the Couch Watching "Family Guy" Re-Runs" is like some kind of real-life version of the SATs: I fret about it for months, try to act cool when it finally arrives, then panic, fill in all the wrong ovals and end up going to my safety school with nothing but what-ifs and if-onlys swimming around in my poor, flustered, overtaxed brain. Maybe I'm over-thinking it, but if you're not new here, you know that's exactly my style.

It starts out all sexy-like, and then...

Friends' advice is as varied as it is unhelpful. "Be yourself." Myself is a marginally neurotic alpha female who is incapable of bullshit. "Just see what happens." What happens is that I say the wrong thing. Every time. "Be direct." Oh, yeah, because men just love a woman who tries to bully them into a date!

What about you, Team SK? How do you navigate the post-first-date, pre-boyfriend minefield? Because frankly, I could use all the help I can get.


Anna said...

God, this is the WORST. I can totally relate.

I've come to learn that for a relationship to have a chance of working, there has to be a convergence of factors; a solid friendship, shared values, similar lifestyles, and complimentary temperaments. Plus, both people have to have the energy and time in their lives to actively pursue a relationship. Anytime it hasn't worked out with a guy, it's because one of those things has been off. Not that we were bad people, we just weren't compatible at the time for one of those reasons.

My advice, if any, is to look at dating like you're undergoing best friend auditions. If he exerts ANY behavior that you wouldn't tolerate from a best friend, then he's not a good fit for you. Think about how easy it is hanging out with your best friend. Any guy you fall for should be just as easy to kick it with! If it's not easy, it's not working.

Does that help at all?

Anonymous said...

Yea, my friends boyfriend gave me some advice recently that i think might be all i'll ever need. I was complaining that I had no game, didnt know how to tell if someone was available, interested etc. "Just smile," he said, "that's all you should have to do".

Anonymous said...

Love the "Best Friend Audition" perspective, Anna! Thank you and I will put this into real life application.

Anonymous said...

Well . . .

How are you different from any other girl in your age group or demographic out there? What makes you special or are you just a cookie cutter version of "woman"?

That's your core competence, focus on those things and people/groups/events that highlight your "specialness".

It's not the difficult to "make him your boyfriend". First, decide what your goal is: Companionship/Sex/Gifts/a date for that event you have next month/ snuggling on the couch to Family Guy.
Then go out in sexy dress and get numbers. Nix anyone that tries to ask you out or only communicates via text message (cause they're not really serious).

During your juggling, tell them you're dating other people as well. Continue juggling. Those afraid of competition will fall out, those who are hyper-competitive will double-down. Talk about all the ways you're different or quirky or weird, but be proud about them and not self-deprecating.

Someone will be impressed. Bingo --> boyfriend.

Also, always be recruiting for the next best thing if you're not entirely satisfied with what you have. That means go out looking girly and happy and smiley (dresses and heels or your best denim).

Margo said...

Anonymous - I'm not really digging your advice in the context of Leah's situation.

You start by going out in a sexy dress collecting loads of numbers. This initially limits your pool to people who think the way you look is the top criteria and in any way correlated with how well you'll get along later.

Now by eliminating people who text only, you make assumptions about their interest when in reality they could be the casual type or a bit shy or awkward, and should they be penalized for that? Then you nix all but the hyper-competitive - I personally have no interest in starring in my own version of the Bachelor, clawing through the competition to market my uniqueness, so why would I encourage/expect that in another person?

Regardless of how you meet people, I think Anna's suggestion is by far the better approach. The goal (Leah's, and I concur) is somebody you can kick it with and relax around, not somebody willing to jump through hoops like you're some contest prize. Looking for a new BFF who happens to be a straight single male seems like a way better suggestion. It's not about your personal resume, it's about a connection with another person and your method will weed out the real keepers.

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