Archive for October, 2010

 

How to Survive the Panic of Dating Turbulence

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Sorry I’ve been a bit M.I.A. on here, optimists, but I have a good reason: I got wrapped up in closing my second book deal! I can’t tell you much about it yet, but rest assured I will keep the optimism message spreading into even more areas of your life. And the more positive energy you can keep up in more places, the greater your orange glow, which is what will help attract the right person your way.

Today’s message harks from a flight I took last weekend.

Don't get so scared en route you forget to enjoy the flight! (Image by Amy Spencer)

I was sitting next to my sister on our flight home from New York when we hit a good chunk of turbulence that sent the plane bouncing around and sent the flight attendants to their seat belts.

Here’s what I was feeling: Pure, unbridled panic. You know, like, Oh my God, what if this is it? What if we go down and this ends up on the news tomorrow freaking out everybody who think planes only go down over mountains in Central America? What will I do when we’re hurtling toward the ground? What if that last stupid Facebook update counts as my final words?

Yet here’s what I did: I acted cool. I yawned and stretched a little, looked out the window like I was bored, and flipped through a few channels on my Jet Blue TV.

Well, the turbulence stopped, I got sucked into a marathon of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and the flight and life carried on. But it reminded me so much of what I would do when I was dating—how I’d often react the same way to my dating turbulence.

Here’s what I mean: Every once in a while, on a random night or for a random week, I’d feel a searing moment of panic: I’m going to be alone. No one will ever love me. It’s too late for me. I’m too old. I missed the boat. It’s never going to happen. But if anyone asked me at a party how I felt about being single, I’d play as cool as I did on the airplane this weekend and pretend I wasn’t bothered at all, “It’s fun, you know? I have my freedom, I get to date around, feel things out. I mean, I don’t even know if I’m ready for a relationship anyway, so it’s all good.”

Why did I do this? Well, as I write about in Meeting Your Half-Orange, I always had this voice in my head saying, “There’s nothing sorrier than a single girl who wishes she wasn’t.” And I was determined not to be that person who got other people’s pity. So I’d sugarcoat my situation. In essence, while I was panicking about the dating turbulence, I’d yawn and stretch, look around like I was bored, and flip through a few guys. I acted cool. I thought “cool” was the way to get the guy. I know differently now.

What I believe is that the way to get the guy or girl is to act real. The more in tune with your true feelings you are, the more grounded and real you’ll feel. So, if you’re having a teribble, rough, sucky time with dating this week, don’t sugarcoat it. Admit it! No, people don’t want you talking about it every single day for a month (and neither do I, because it’s not helping your case with all that negative energy emanating off of you!). But it’s okay to be real and say, “I’ve had a bad, sucky dating week and I just want to wallow in it for a night so I can start feeling better tomorrow.” In fact, if you do this, over time, you may even feel like wallowing less, because you’ll see how little it gets you to stew in bummer-ness for too long.

So that’s my message this week: When a friend asks about your dating life, don’t act cool. Be real. Tell them how you’re feeling, even if it’s nervous, scared, lonely or truly panicked. Then, once you’ve gotten it off your chest, focus on the good stuff in your life (your job, your Checkers skills, your cat, those awesome friends) and distract yourself with the life equivalent of flipping through channels on Bravo TV. You may notice how smooth life gets when you’ve stopped paying so much attention to the turbulence. It’s natural to panic. But what’s true in flying is true in love: Turbulence doesn’t cause you to crash. It’s just some bumpy air along the way. Remember that (because I have to remind myself every time!)

As long as you get real and admit that you’re a little scared of the bumpy air, you may find your grip on the arm rests lightens up and you can enjoy the ride more. Life has a wonderful ride to offer you. Give yourself the gift of being able to enjoy it.

And if you have any other tricks for getting over the panic of dating turbulence—or, for that matter, flight turbulence—let me know!

You might also like:
Love Lesson: The Emergency Room Laugh

Big love,

Are You Stuck on The Cliff of the Confused?

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I want to tell you about a Cliff I know about. Funny enough, I was reminded of it this weekend by Saul on Brothers & Sisters.

What's Saul doing now? (Image: ABC.com)

Now, I haven’t always been a fan of Saul (played by Ron Rifkin). He just always seemed to cause some kind of trouble, didn’t he? He was always making the wrong choices at Ojai Foods, or doing deals on the side he wasn’t supposed to be doing, or having meetings he wasn’t supposed to be having. My husband, who would often overhear the show from another room, would walk in, see that people were crying and ask, “Oh, geez, was it Saul? What did he do now?” and I’d laugh, explaining that yes, Saul had shaken things up again.

But this week, I loved Saul for the struggle he’s been going through and the way he bounced out of it. Saul, you see, is a sixty-something man who recently came out as gay and also found out he is HIV positive. This week, he went on a few dates with a man he really likes—Charlie, played by the Seventh Heaven dad, who I love—but was too scared to reveal his HIV status. Saul’s nephew Kevin and Kevin’s husband Scotty (played by Matthew Rhys and Luke MacFarlane, respectively) suggest that Saul tell him and get it over with. So, Saul reveals his secret, but Charlie backs away, not wanting to have to watch Saul get sick like his last partner.

The moment I loved was hearing Saul explain how he felt about it. As he told Kevin and Scotty:

“Come on, if you hadn’t had pushed me, I’d probably still be standing at the edge of that cliff, afraid to jump. So I jumped, I hit the rocks, it hurt like hell and I’m still standing.”

Kevin and Scotty push for more, but Saul insists:

“I’m fine. I’m better than fine. Look, I realized how lucky I am, okay? Charlie’s lover died, I’ve been symptom free for probably thirty years, and we know that could change, right? So the next time I’m on the edge of that cliff, I’ll probably leap even faster, just keep pushing me. I could always use a little shove.

Getting stuck on that cliff happens in dating all the time, right? Maybe you like someone and you don’t know how to make a move. Maybe you have a crush on a friend of yours, but you fear ruining the friendship by saying so. Maybe you’ve had a few dates and because the phone calls and texts are so erratic, you can’t tell where you stand with them. Hey, that’s dating. But there is a potential problem with all of these scenarios: When you’re stuck all alone on The Cliff of the Confused, you get stalled by fear, and you may find you don’t open yourself up to anyone else because  dealing with your unresolved “relationship.” How do you know you’re stuck?

Signs you’re stuck on The Cliff of the Confused:

1. You check your phone for messages or texts from the person you like, and the messages aren’t there more often than they are.

2. You feel like you have to work hard at coming up with irrational ways to involve the person you like. Like, “Ooh, maybe I’ll call him to and say my company needs the recipe of those burger buns he said his cousin made once.”

3. Your friends have devolved into responding, “Uh huh” or “Yep” when you circle the same rationalizations about this same dating situation (again)—or someone finally just says, “Just do it already!”

See, when you’re stuck on The Cliff of the Confused, you’re so busy checking your texts, and talking about the person and working so hard to be around them, you don’t even notice the cute new single person who was smiling at you at the party.

I’m not saying that every time you like someone you should take the leap and lay a big ol’ smacker on them right away. But if you feel like you’re treading water with someone, maybe it’s time to resolve where you stand once and for all. Free yourself from the questions of “Does he or doesn’t he?” “Would she or wouldn’t she?” and “What if…?” Take the leap off and find out! Maybe, like Saul, you’ll jump, hit the rocks and it’ll hurt like hell. But you’ll notice too that you’re still standing and that you may actually feel lighter for the leap. Because at least now you know.

The right love doesn’t make you feel like you’re on a cliff all alone. Your half-orange is either up there with you, or down below ready to catch you when you jump. So do yourself a favor and when you’re getting dizzy up there, remember this and take the leap. We could all sometimes use a little shove.

You might also like:

3 Tricks to Flip Your Frustration

Big love,

Dexter and You: Take Your “Leap of Faith”

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Gosh, how I love Dexter. And if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s worth a Netflix Season One rental because you will—against your better judgment—find yourself rooting for this serial killer with a big heart. Especially because, in between stalking his next prey, he even provides us with insightful love advice.

Dexter's nanny takes a leap of faith

Last night, two characters talked about taking the “leap of faith.” First, Dexter’s new nanny, who agreed to give Dexter’s household another chance after quitting, if only to take a leap of faith that it would work out better this time. Dexter, in turn, told the girl who witnessed his last kill—Lumen Pierce, played by Julia Stiles—that the he would let her go, in the hopes that she wouldn’t tell others what she’d seen. “It’s a leap of faith,” he said.

And that is what it takes when you’re looking for love, too. Sometimes in life, there’s just so much you can do to make things happen. In love, you can plan dates, initiate contact, beg for set-ups, hit events, introduce yourself and be proactive in meeting potential love interests. In life, you can make that call, submit that application, try alternative therapies, reach out to your network, beg for help and be proactive in getting what you need done. But then there’s a point in both love and life when when you need to take a deep breath, throw out your arms and give the dating or the project up to the universe. You need to let go and take the leap of faith that the universe will carry you a little further in the right direction. And this is what we should all do today.

Give yourself a break for a minute. If you want love or something in life badly enough, I’m sure you’ve been working your butt off in different ways to get it. So today, I want you to throw it out to the universe, which is larger than yourself and all of us. Take the leap of faith that if you are focusing on what you want with all of your heart and glowing with your authentic happiness, then what is meant to happen for you will happen. Your path will become clear. Ideas will spring to mind. People will pop up in your life. Opportunities will come.

I’m going to do it, too, in my own way. Let’s take the leap of faith together today. At least for just this one day, let’s give it up to the universe and have faith that it will take care of us. It’s not easy, but, hey, that’s why they call it a leap.

You might also like:

Love Lesson from a Serial Killer

Big love,

“I was dating a guy on Match.com. He would call three times a day, we would have amazing dates and then he asked me to be exclusive. Then he got distant, moody and unresponsive. He said we should break up while he worked out what he wanted. Two days later, he was back on Match. I feel like an idiot and can’t stop thinking about what went wrong or what I could have done differently. It makes me not want to date anymore.” —T.

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Hi T.,

Aaargh, that sucks! I hate thinking about that stuff: the mysterious guy who is all over you and then—POOF!—disappears. I met so many of that guy throughout my dating years, too, and it’s frustrating as hell.

As for you feeling like any of it has to do with you, you’re not an idiot and there’s nothing you could have done differently in that situation. It’s simply like another level on that crazy game show Wipeout, where you have to get punched a few times on the dating platform to get to the next level.

What I will say is this: You’re too good for letting this one guy knock your game down. You’re so much better than taking some lame loser guy’s opinion of you and letting it color yourself in any way. The only thing you should be thinking about is how you feel about you, no one else. No guys, no friends, no bosses, just what you think of you.

Since you sound like you’re exactly where I was when I was single, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to make yourself happy this month. For the rest of the month, don’t think about the guys you’re going on dates with, or the guys who aren’t emailing you on Match, or the guys you like but aren’t sure how to make them like you (we women can plot for years on that one!). Instead, think about what you can do in the next month that has nothing to do with guys that will make you gloriously, ridiculously, incredibly, laughably happy. Once you see yourself worth it again, you’ll start attracting the right kinds of guys again and be back on the path to your half-orange.

That’s my advice anyway. If anyone else has any other ideas for T. pass ‘em on!

—Amy

“I met this guy when I was on the downward spiral of a breakup. Sparks definitely flew and I wasn’t expecting to be wow’ed so quickly. The problem is, I am starting graduate school and he is finishing up one more semester in college…five hours away, and taking his LSATs. I’m wondering: Can you meet your half-orange and the timing can be all wrong? Or is my half-orange someone else out there?” —M.

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Hi M.,

Thanks so much for writing. My short answer: Of course it’s possible to meet your half-orange and have the timing wrong! That’s what happened with me: I knew my now-husband as a kid and dated him briefly in our college years, but I wasn’t near ready for the real thing when I was 20. But it doesn’t mean that if you think this guy is your half-orange, that you should, say, wait around and sit tight for four years until he’s ready to be with you.

As the genius Marianne Williamson says, relationships are assignments. (Note: She talks a lot about God, but believes that every God is who we decide it to be, from a being to an energy in the universe, so if you’re not religious, don’t let that scare you off! Your God can be whomever or whatever you believe.) In her book Return to Love, she says this:

“He appraises who can learn most from whom at any given time, and then assigns them to each other. Like a giant computer, He knows exactly what combination of energies, in exactly what context, would do the most to further God’s plan for salvation. No meetings are accidental.”

In other words, every relationship is meant to teach us something—either about ourselves or life or what we want or what we don’t. And whatever happens with this guy (who you either still think is great, or you’re totally over him by now!) you’ve connected with him for a reason. Maybe it’s to learn that you can feel those sparks and like him with your mind as well. Maybe it’s to help heal your last break-up. Whatever you learn, this relationship is right for you right now and that’s the most you need to know. If he’s meant to be your true other half in life or marriage, that will happen, and you won’t feel like you’re pushing for it or pining for it. The right relationship feels natural, like an extra limb of your body, easy and good for you.

So, I hope that helps. And I thank you for writing and following the blog and reading the book. I hope it has helped in the way you look at who you date and at your perspective in life overall. Just remember that everyone you meet and every experience you have is preparing you for that right relationship. So if this isn’t the big one, it’s a vital step along the path to the big one.

—Amy