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My Post-Grad Single Life

December 12, 2012

I never dated anyone in high school.  In college, I was a serial monogamist.  I had a new girlfriend for each year that I was in college (the freshman year girlfriend, the sophomore year girlfriend, etc.)  Only in my post-grad life, and mostly only in the last year or so, have I had many experiences with less traditional kinds of relationships.  I now share my thoughts on the pros and cons of some of these experiences with you.

Disclaimer: These encounters reached various stages of sexual intensity, which I will not be divulging explicitly.  I’m very open, though, so if you’d really like to know the details, ask away, creepers. 🙂

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The Ex Hook-Up

The Recipe: We break up, deciding we’re better off as friends.  We see each other again a few days later.  Things get steamy.  I ask her what the hell we’re doing, and she says she doesn’t have a problem with hooking up even now that we’re broken up.  Dumbfounded, I see no reason not to accept the proposition.  And we continue to hook up, off and on, for the better part of a year.

Advantages: Already a well-established emotional connection, but without having to worry about being in love, or having a future together.  Extremely convenient–don’t need to spend all your time with her, but always have someone to turn to.  Still have someone to be close with and talk about problems.  Doesn’t interfere with pursuing other opportunities in theory.

Disadvantages: Does interfere with pursuing other opportunities in practice.  Relationship needs are already fulfilled, which might affect emotional connections with other women in insidious ways.  Even if it doesn’t affect your ability to connect emotionally with other women, feelings of jealousy arise whenever new women come into the picture.  Ex feels like she is being replaced.  In worst-case scenario, ex tries to exert direct influence over your love life.  (Naturally, mine turned out to be worst-case.)  Even if you’re no longer hooking up with your ex, even if your ex already has another boyfriend, these issues can still come up.  That’s why pretty much any dating blog will tell you that being friends with an ex is a bad idea.

The FWB

The Recipe: A friend invites me to a party she’s hosting at her place in Davis.  There, she introduces me to a girl she thinks I’ll like.  I talk to the girl for an hour over drinks, then take her onto the dance floor.  Things get steamy.  We ditch the party for an hour to fool around in her car.  We exchange numbers and agree to meet up again if either one of us happens to be in the other’s area.

The circumstances are perfect for this type of relationship.  I go visit my parents in Folsom every couple of weeks, and Davis is right on the way.  It’s frequent enough to satisfy our needs, but not frequent enough for it to develop into something more significant.  We text each other and chat online periodically, but interact mostly when we’re about to meet up.

Advantages: Very low level of commitment.  Easy to pursue other opportunities simultaneously, especially with the distance.  Significant differences in lifestyle or philosophy don’t matter.  She seemed somewhat materialistic, which would have made her a poor match for me if we’d wanted to be more serious.  As it was, we both found each other fun and interesting, and we enjoyed each other’s company.  That was enough.

Disadvantages: Missing the deeper emotional connections of something more serious.  Low level of commitment means no obligation to explain any decisions whatsoever.  Which is exactly what she did–abruptly stop returning my texts and chat messages for no stated reason.  I don’t mind rejection, but I can’t stand not knowing things.  But could I blame her?  That’s the kind of relationship it was.

The Two-Night-Stand

The Recipe: We meet at a friend’s wedding reception.  She performs a song on her ukulele, and I compliment her on her performance afterward.  We start talking and hit it off.  I find out that she has another year at Pratt and will be heading back to New York soon.  I invite her over to play Ocarina of Time at my apartment the next weekend before she leaves.  She comes over, and an awesome afternoon turns into an awesome night, which then turns into an awesome two nights.  I finally drop her off at the train station the following morning.

Advantages: The ultimate no-strings-attached experience.  In a week she’ll be 3,000 miles away, so there’s not really any question of pursuing something beyond her one visit.  There’s no interference with anything else you’re pursuing at the time.  There’s absolutely nothing to worry about except enjoying the moment.  Unless….

Disadvantages: ….you actually develop serious feelings for her that persist even after you start dating local girls again.  Then you’re screwed.

The Online Relationship

The Recipe: She lived in Texas.  She was browsing OkCupid profiles in the Bay Area because she was planning on taking a trip to California sometime soon.  She messages me, and we start chatting for hours almost every day.  She gets a webcam.  We videochat for the first time, and things get surprisingly physical despite the fact that we can’t actually touch each other.  We start to like each other in a pretty serious way.  Excitement builds for her trip to SF.

We agree that we need to actually see each other in person before we actually get into anything serious.  We decide to wait until she arrives, have a blast for the week or two that she’s here, and then figure out where to go from there.  We keep talking regularly until the date draws near, and then… her trip falls through.  She has family issues to work out, and she needs to move out of her house and become financially independent first.  I offer to pay at least part of her way here once she has her family issues sorted out, but she says she doesn’t like letting guys pay for her.  After her trip has been postponed indefinitely, she starts coming online less often, avoiding me.  I confront her, and she says she’s scared of being attached to me.  I ask her if she still wants to come, and she says she does.  I hold on to that hope.

Advantages: None whatsoever, unless you for some reason enjoy being really invested in things that are unlikely to pan out.

Disadvantages: Distance makes everything more complicated.  You hear about her problems and feel powerless to do anything about them.  You become attached without being able to have any direct physical connection.  You aren’t really committed, but you aren’t really emotionally free to pursue other relationships either.  An online “relationship” is not a real relationship at all, and yet it comes with all of the same investment and heartache that real relationships feature.  In other words, it’s the same kind of desperately frustrating anticlimax that has plagued me ever since the last time I was in love, three years ago.

We all know how this story ends, and it’s pretty much exactly as described on this episode of Tales of Mere Existence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oHnE_ObivY.  She ends up getting a local boyfriend a couple of weeks after telling me she still wanted to come to California.  She’s still my Facebook friend, so I get to see photo albums of their trip to China.  I find myself wondering how the hell she came up with the money to go to China.  Maybe she’s not so against letting guys pay for her after all.

The Fling

The Recipe: She sends me a casual message on OkCupid, and we start talking.  We meet up and quickly come to the conclusion that we’re not right for each other long-term.  She’s 28 and has a 1-year-old kid, and is at a different stage in her life.  Not to mention that we’re around a 70% match.  But we like each other a lot, and we’re very attracted to each other, and we’re both at a point in life where we’re willing to be involved in something more casual.  We start seeing each other a few times a week to go dancing, jog by the lake, eat crepes, and do other date stuff.

Advantages: New and exciting, like the start of a long-term relationship.  Almost like having a real girlfriend, but without having to worry about long-term commitment or future plans.  It’s just nice to have someone you think about all the time, while knowing she’s thinking about you too.

Disadvantages: Like any relationship, it eventually ends.  We decide about a month later that if we keep it up for much longer, it will start becoming a real relationship.  So we go our separate ways.  Unlike most of the other relationships described earlier, though, this one felt conclusive when it ended.  I still missed her, of course, but it was a satisfying, bittersweet missing.  And we’ll always be able to talk to each other if we ever need to.

—–

Ultimately, I think I am and always will be a monogamist at heart.  But this year I’ve come to accept the fact that I can’t wait forever for the perfect girl to come along, and I need to live my life to the fullest even when I’m single.  I don’t regret any of these experiences.  In fact, I think that because of these experiences, I’ve grown more in the past year than in any other year of my life.  Here’s to indefinite singlehood.

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