Confession: My Nonexistent Dating Life, As Evidenced By Countless Side Projects

Two of many side projects.
Two of many side projects.

When single, some people sulk. Others go on a marathon of dates. I, on the other hand, whip up a plethora of side projects.

I was on the phone with a friend last night waxing poetic about an event I am planning for the end of summer when I joked, “No men, mad projects.” Since I purged my life of the last and latest dickhead two months ago, I have started writing a book, worked on a performance piece, drafted a speech, started “Shop Twenties Unscripted” (with the help of a great designer friend) and planned two events for this summer. I’ve also tried to write more consistently here. I’m not sure if there’s a direct correlation between sexual frustration and quantity of projects, but I have an inkling there may be. Ponder that, you mathematicians.

I’m always looking for new ways to write about being single. I’m always flipping the topic on its head because it’s clearly something I’m passionate about. Or, maybe this is just my life and it’s difficult not to infuse my life into these posts. When I came up with this topic, I didn’t know if there was much of a topic. In fact, I typed a few words, left my computer, returned, and still tried to figure out what the hell I was trying to say. Because, I don’t know the line between comedy and tragedy when it comes to me, my singleness, and my countless projects.

I’m always trying to strike a balance between caring for an individual and caring for myself when dating.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it is a balance I will learn over time.  I tend to like, lust and love pretty hard. I know. Everyone says that. But, figures of interest leave an indelible mark on me, some more than they’ll ever realize. More often than not, I’ll admit I’ve lost myself in relationships and non-relationships alike. Sometimes who I am shrinks in the midst of muscles, massages, and middle-of-the-day texts. Sometimes, I have to wake that bitch back up. It is often times in the frozen middle of that fixation that I have to remind myself of this single person–this person who is fueled by ideas, writing and creativity. 

Finding your happy place is, arguably, a lot harder when single. Yes, cue the violin. But, without immediate memories of late nights over dim lights to occupy the real estate in your head, you have to craft the avenue to your bliss much more proactively. My projects give me purpose. They aren’t just my way of busying my hands; they are me. They provide goals, channels of expression and things to look forward to.  Bodily frustrations aside, I like what I do and, more significantly, who I am when I’m single. And, it is in these rare moments of clarity that I hope and pray I can remain that same person when I’m in another relationship.



The Unwritten Rules of Getting Involved With a Friend’s Former Flame

Me and fling #2. Woops.
Me and fling #2. Woops.

I took to Twitter and Facebook this morning to pose a controversial question. Sometimes it’s nice to start your Wednesday by getting people’s panties (and boxer briefs) in a twist.

Is it ever OK to date a friend’s ex or past hookup? Inquiring minds need to know.

My poll was a disguised social experiment to see if men and women were divided on the issue. But, as responses trickled in from both sexes, I learned we all don’t feel very different about the case of the ex. I didn’t know exactly what to call this post (hence the weighty title) because I posed a lot of potential scenarios: hooking up with a friend’s former fling, dating a friend’s former fling, hooking up with a friend’s ex, and, of course, the mothership of all offenses, dating a friend’s ex.

When I asked this question to my social media comrades, the responses varied: an unequivocal “NOOOO” (regarding the ex); “hell no if it’s an ex”; “I would ask first; it depends when the relationship occurred”; “Depends on how long and how serious the relationship was”; “Respect and loyalties need to be kept in check or bridges will be burned on both sides, however, gone about in the right way, could end up ok.” Outside of the exes, which we all agreed have red tape all over them, the rules suddenly begin to bend and depend when it comes to former flings. Time passed, longevity, and emotions become variables in experimenting with a friend’s prior flame.

I am not far removed from my personal tie to this topic. I nursed flings with two guys who were close friends. Not buddies who drank together once a week, but friends. The flings occured about a year apart and, to my surprise, fling #1 knew about fling #2. I only found this out when I hesitated to post a photo of me and fling #2 to Instagram and he looked at me and nonchalantly stated, “Oh, fling #1 already knows.” I was taken aback. Maybe I had totally overestimated what occurred between me and fling #1. (Well, there’s no maybe. I did overestimate it.) In the end, I no longer have ties to either of them so maybe this is a lesson in not being a duplicitous slore? Probably.

I isolate my friends’ exes somewhere in the same corner of my mind as gay men, 30 years old and plus men, men with girlfriends, and Chris Brown: no matter how attractive, they are off-limits. My brain and body are not wired to toy with those possibilities. I isolate their past flings somewhere close to that same corner.

On the surface, this is a post about dating/hooking up with a friend’s ex/past hookup. But, I do not write for the surface. When I scribe, I dive; I do not doggy paddle. So, as I reread everyone’s responses to my poll, I realized this isn’t about our friends’ exes at all. This is about human beings and how strange and inexplicable our ties to one another are. This is about territoriality. About how we leave our scent on the bodies of lovers past long after our anatomies have untangled. This is about how we stake our claim on the hills of people’s memories. Plant our banners in the sands of mind that will serve as a red flag to the next lover. This is about how we love, like and lust in ways that embody that Lauryn Hill “Ex-Factor” line: “See no one loves you more than me, and no one ever will.” This is about how we believe that line long after its veracity can be confirmed. This is about how the people we lie down with, the people whose bodies graze our own in the most dim hours of the day, the people we pretend we do not care about and claim are “just friends”, and the people who shatter our hearts, all of them are forever bound to us in ways that we cannot explain.

There are no rules. This isn’t about our friends’ exes at all. This is about us.



I Don’t Believe You Can Be Friends With Your Ex, But Maybe That’s Just Me.

It would've been cool if I could have erased him in real life, too.
It would’ve been cool if I could have erased him in real life, too.

The last time my ex and I spoke was March 2012. I was speeding down a Texas highway and he was getting ready to board a plane. We were talking about the possibility of me getting an MBA and, in regard for his impending flight, we decided to table the conversation for another time when he could be more attentive.

That tabled conversation never happened.

I reached out a few times to continue the chat before I realized his returned silence said everything. We weren’t talking anymore. He was no longer my go-to person when it came to mulling over the omnipresent thoughts circling through my head about my future or my career or what the fuck I was going to do to prove myself a success in this world. He had not occupied that place for some months prior and he was certainly not going to reseat himself on his former pedestal. I sat on the edge of my bed first puzzled, then pissed, and finally indifferent. All in about three quick breaths.

I was first compelled to title this post, You Can’t Be Friends With Your Ex” but I thought the finality and conclusiveness of those words might be a bit too polarizing. After all, I can only speak from my experiences and those are not the prototype in the least. So, I do believe there are people out there who dated, loved, rolled around in bed together for countless hours, became distant, parted ways as lovers, and found comfort in being friends. I’m just not one of those people. In fact, I believe those people are the exception to the rule.

“We’ll still be friends.” It’s the oldest trick in the book when we hear the small rips in our heart during a break-up. It’s the band-aid for the lacerations forming on each surface. “We’ll still be friends.” Those four words suddenly make the late night and early morning and midday sex feel less regrettable. They make the long weekend trips and out-of-your-price-range birthday gifts feel more like memories and less like menaces. They make the memorization of a person’s favorite color or middle name or the address to their apartment feel like handy tidbits instead of useless factoids that will only haunt the corners of your casual conscience. “We’ll still be friends.”

But, the tragic truth is, you probably will not still be friends. At first, you will try. You will blindly believe that being friends is better than being nothing at all. So, you will force trips to grab coffee over the weekend or engage in phone conversations that do not end in “I love you.” You will see one another and the absence of physical touch with make each one of your limbs ache one by one. But, you will try. You may slip and regress into the “I love yous” and “I miss yous” and the familiar and cozy sex that is impossible to replicate with a random hookup. But, you will try. And, then you’ll discover trying to only be friends with someone you love or loved is only begging your heart not to contract according to its natural reflexes.

I believe when two former lovers are friends, there is always one of them, or perhaps both, who will pine for the other. There is always one who will believe that the friendship is just a temporary extended stay with a path leading back to the relationship. And, the beloved may never realize the plight and misguided faith of the lover. It’s harrowing to an infinite degree.

But, then again, maybe that’s just me.





I Hate The Term The Friend Zone, But I’m Going to Write About It Anyway.


A few nights ago, I found myself in a late night Twitter discussion about The Friend Zone. I think my friends know at this point that 98.76% of our conversations (particularly those on Twitter or at a Tacos and Tequila night) become fair game for blog posts and this was no different.

Urban Dictionary offers up this definition of The Friend Zone: This is the worst position someone can be in, if they have feelings for someone. When a person develops romantic feelings for someone, but the other person only sees the relationship as just being friends. Because the two are around each other a lot, the one in love will harbor his/her feelings for the others.

I’m not particularly fond of the term The Friend Zone so a friend of mine (damn, how many times am I going to use the word “friend” in this post?) offered up alternatives including but not limited to: The Desert, The Platonic Glass Case, The Return of the Fap, Blacklisted and No Cheeks, Inc. Select your preference accordingly.

I possess a dual point of view regarding this topic, both as someone who has potentially been blacklisted and someone who potentially (and unintentionally) blacklisted others. (I think I like blacklisted. Verbs are easy.) The issue of The Friend Zone resurfaces the million dollar question of whether or not heterosexual men and women can genuinely be friends, but I am not getting paid a million dollars to write this. In fact, I’m getting paid zero. Thus, I have no intention of debating that question.

I can count my close male friends on one hand, but I truly believe in quality over quantity in this case. I really despise those women who say they get along better with men than they do with women. However, I do find that the unvarnished three fourths of my personality entwines much more easily into my male friendships than my lady ones. In thinking about my male friends, I have not ever felt blacklisted by any of them. Instead, my male friendships have gradually become mainstays in my existence, irreplaceable bonds typically formed by an equation of 70% jokes, 20% advice and 10% serious confessionals. While the jokes far outweigh the more sedate moments, each point in that equation’s triangle is significant and symbiotic.

In return, I do not believe I have blacklisted my male friends. Maybe that’s why we’re still friends? Perhaps I should ask some of them to write this post and we’ll see it from a completely different vantage point. But, I doubt that. I have never had one of those rom com life experiences where, completely unbeknowst to my forecasting, someone professes his love to me in some grandiose and tacky way such as outside of a brownstone window. I live in the suburbs. No walk-ups over here.

Ironically enough, the few times where I have felt The Friend Zone trademark inking its blood onto my forehead, I was never truly friends with the person. It was more like “I am digging this person, he could be my next boyfriend and maybe I once or twice imagined whether or not my name would hyphenate perfectly with his.” In exchange, his perspective was “She’s cool and her butt’s cute.” Not exactly the ingredients required for a friendship. Or a relationship. Or any interaction that’s lifespan will extend beyond three weeks.

Nonetheless, The Friend Zone seems like a slippery and self-effacing place to be in. To be in love with someone who does not or will not ever reciprocate that love is to tell a vicious lie to yourself, only with the blind faith that the outcome of that lie will change. Remaining a steady and safe presence in someone’s periphery when all you want to do is to relocate to their epicenter creates a hollow pit of resentment in the middle of your heart. You often times do not recognize that until it is much too late. Yes, some of the best relationships blossom out of friendships. But, trying to extract a relationship out a friendship with sheer force may sometimes only leave you walking the plank.