Just Say No

Recently, a man that I didn’t know very well asked me for my phone number.  Since I was caught off guard, I gave it to him.  But in hindsight, I wish I would have told him, “No, I’m not interested.”

To provide some background, this is a guy who works at a pizza place that I go to from time to time.  It turns out that he’s 30 and is in a time of transition.

Ultimately, I don’t think we are in the same stage of life. I’m 40.  I have a career. And I know that if I date someone, I’m looking for something serious. ( I may feel 40,  but I realize that I don’t necessarily look 40.  So, sometimes I get approached by younger men.)

Sometimes we can feel pressured to give everyone “a chance”, but when it comes to dating sometimes you “just know” that you don’t really match with the person expressing interest.  There may be a large age gap, difference in religious ideas, political views, etc. Why waste each other’s time in trying to see if things are going to work out? Sometimes you have a pretty strong idea that they won’t. It’s okay to say, “No”.

Regarding the word “no”, I have some thoughts.  I think women, in particular, feel pressure to be polite and nice.

When I was in college, I had various situations where strangers were asking me out and it made me very uncomfortable.  I didn’t know how to handle the attention and I didn’t want to be rude.  So, I’d often smile and would give out my number or talk to someone longer than I wanted to.

If I could offer advice to my younger-self, I would say something like this:

Everyone is made in the image of God.  So treat others with the respect and kindness that you would want for yourself.  Recognize the humanity in people, but don’t feel pressured into allowing someone into your life as a romantic interest/partner if you are not interested. Many people will “meet the requirements” for being an acquaintance or a friend.  But few will meet the requirements for romance.

Marriage is the ultimate “group project”. You don’t need to bind yourself to someone that you don’t really have that much in common with or someone that you are not physically attracted to. So, it’s okay to say, “No, I’m not interested”.  This is not an evaluation of their character, their value, etc. Dating/marriage is a different type of relationship. It’s okay to be selective about who you want to share that experience with.

To be honest, I wish that women were given better tools for how to relate to men-especially strangers. To that end, many women/young girls experience attention that can be frightening or uncomfortable.

I don’t think that men truly understand how uncomfortable it can feel to be approached at night, to be followed around in a store, to be stared at, etc. And those are just mild situations*.

By no means, have I mastered the art of saying, “No”. But I’m learning how to feel more comfortable in politely turning a man down.

How have you mastered the art of saying, “No”?  Do you think that everyone deserves a chance?

*As a woman, there are times that I feel vulnerable. And the sad reality is that the world isn’t always safe.  There are people who do harm.  For this reason, it can be good to be practical.  For example, I have signed up for a self-defense class and am considering activating the alarm in the place where I live.

In the spirit of the post, I leave you with this song/lyric video from Meghan Trainor, No. (Sometimes men can be aggressive and refuse to take no for an answer.  But if a woman says she is not interested, let it go.)

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Hear This- Local Sound

I’m not cool enough to be on the Spotify bandwagon. But since a life without music is not really living , I have a music subscription to Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody).

Like most subscriptions, Napster offers song suggestions similar to the music you’ve been listening to.  And that’s how I found out about the group Local Sound.

They are an indie/pop/electric blend of praise/Christian contemporary music. And they are a lot of fun to listen to.

They have two EP’s out.  The first video comes from their pop/electric EP and the second is the more stripped down version.

Enjoy.

I’m Only Good At Being Young*

So, I turned 40 this year.

I knew it was coming, but it still was a little jarring.  Plus, it doesn’t help that I’m surrounded by people who were born the same year I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL. (I work in higher education.)

It’s also funny how people say that they feel young at heart, like a 16 year old trapped in an “old” person’s body.  But I disagree. I feel every inch of my 40 years. Some days, I feel even older. :/ (I’ve been struggling with some health issues for a while, but I’m hopeful that I’m on the upswing.)

Perhaps in the future, I’ll write more about my thoughts on hitting middle age. But in the meantime, I’ll share this clip from Jamie Foxx about getting older.

*The title was taken from a lyric from John Mayer’s song, Stop This Train.

Dating While Black*

Heart_and_stone

*I realize that the topic of race is often inflammatory, but I thought that I would share my own experiences of what it means to be a minority in the dating game. I do not speak for the experiences for “all black people”.  This is just my story and it’s kinda long.

I am a child of jelly bracelets, Debbie Gibson, and the Cosby Show (before the controversy). In short, I am a child of the 80’s.

As a child of the 80’s, I reaped the benefits of being the first generation of blacks to not experience overt racism.  I did not have to sit in the back of a bus, use a separate water fountain, or be relegated to a specific school or neighborhood. I was a generation of hope. I was a generation where race no longer mattered.

In my upbringing as a military brat, who lived in places from 9 months to 3 years, I was surrounded by people who did not share my ethnicity.  My neighborhoods, schools, and churches tended to be predominantly white.

My notions of race, as a kid, were nuanced a best.  But around the 3rd grade I started to realize that I was different from my peers.  And by the 5th grade, I started to realize that those differences mattered-especially when it came to romance.

I realized that whenever I revealed that I had a crush on someone it was automatically assumed that the guy was black (despite the dearth of black guys in my surrounding environment).  And on the few occasions that one black guy was in my class, it was automatically assumed that we liked each other whether we had anything in common or not.

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now, that people have a sense of what I call “tribalism”. As an adult, I realize that the vast majority of people tend to be raised in homogenized environments along racial/ethnic lines. And for that reason, race often becomes a kind of shorthand to know whether the person next to you is more likely to share a set of common beliefs, ideologies, upbringing/background, etc.  And for that reason, people often tend to “stick to their own kind”.

As someone who grew up outside of my ethnic community and was exposed to more diverse situations, I didn’t and I don’t really have a tribe. I don’t have a “shorthand” to easily identify the people who are most similar to me.

I’m going to take a bit of a detour, but it may be helpful to have some frame of reference. So as I said, as I got older, I realized that race was “a thing”.  But I was truly confronted with how much of “a thing” it was in college.

Up until this point, I had never had the opportunity to be around a large number of black people.  And up until this point, I would have denied that there was a difference between white culture and black culture.  However, it became clear that whatever “black culture” was, I didn’t embody it.

I would be remiss to say that college was the first time to be told that I “wasn’t black”, but it was the first time that I felt a palatable divide between races.  Meaning, I noticed that people tended to self-segregate in the cafeteria, in social events, and even in religious communities.

During my college years, I had the opportunity to have two black roommates.  (I also had two white roommates, a Japanese roommate, and a biracial roommate.  I had a lot of roommates.) These experiences were eye opening for me. And to be honest, although I got along pretty well with the first girl that I lived with, the second girl made a habit of calling me out for my naivety and ignorance about the black experience. Needless to say, there were many awkward moments around her, her boyfriend, and her friends.

Without going into a lot of detail, for the 2nd time in my life, I realized that I was different.  I realized that I was “other”. I realized that I was experiencing the “so called fate” of biracial people. I didn’t seamlessly fit into any racial group. I was too “white” for some black people. And I was too “black” for some white people. And if I’m honest that paradigm still lives with me to this day.

So, back to dating…

College was also the first time that I started to receive overt male attention. And to be honest, it was a bit of a shock. Men, from all races, began to express interest.  But, sadly, most were not Christians.  So the dates/exchanges didn’t really go anywhere.

As far as dating in the Christian community, I didn’t and I don’t receive a lot of interest from men. Anecdotally, I don’t think my experience is that uncommon regardless of race.  Plus, it didn’t help that I grew up in the era of I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

That being said, to be honest, I think that being a minority does complicate the dating experience. Many have observed a lack of “God fearing men” in today’s society.  This lack can become even more apparent when you account for race.

So from a practical standpoint, what is a minority to do? My overall thoughts and advice, have not changed, but I’ll add few more thoughts.

  1. Consider online dating.
  2. Be prepared to be more proactive and upfront.

Online dating allows you to specify the traits and attributes of a potential partner. If you prefer to date within your ethnic group, it will allow you to refine for those characteristics and potentially provide a larger number of partners than life may provide.

To that end, if you are open to dating interracially, you will know that the person who either responds to or initiates contact is open to interracial dating as well.

Be prepared to be more proactive and upfront.  The reason that I say this is if dating is a “numbers game”, the numbers are against you.  We are called minorities for a reason. According to Wikapedia, my ethnic group makes up about 14% of the population. That’s not a lot to work with especially if you are looking for shared beliefs, ideologies, upbringing, etc.

So it stands to reason that if you prefer to date within your own ethic group, more than likely you will have to be more proactive.  I would encourage utilizing social connections (e.g. friends, family, etc.), getting involved with specific groups that cater to minorities (e.g. church, club/organizations), and possibly moving to a location where there are a larger number of people who share your background.

If you are open to dating interracially, in addition to expanding your social circles, I would encourage you to be upfront about your intentions.

Let me explain. Race makes people uncomfortable. So, it stands to reason that the topic of racial preferences in dating feels like a loaded gun. But that doesn’t change the reality that people have racial preferences.

So as a minority, although you may be open to the cute guy or girl who is sitting across from you in a Bible Study, he or she may not be thinking the same.  In fact, the thought of dating you, may have never seriously crossed that person’s mind.

So, if you are open to dating interracially, treat potential interests as you would anyone else (e.g. get to know them, hang out with them). However, you may need to have “the talk” sooner rather than later.

I would leave race out of the discussion (unless you have bridged that topic before), but I would let them know that you are open to something beyond friendship, i.e. romance.  It’s better to know 3-4 months in, that someone sees you only as a friend vs. languishing in the “friend zone” for years.

In case you’re curious, I don’t have an issue with interracial dating and have dated interracially.  But I understand why some people prefer to date within their own ethnic group.

At the age of 40, I no longer believe that “race doesn’t matter”. In my opinion, the tensions and clashes between various ethnic groups are real. For this reason, the implications of interracial dating and marriage play out differently for the various parties involved.  Some have very positive experiences, while others have pronounced difficulties.

So, date within your comfort zone.  But as a minority you may find it harder to find a partner, especially if shared religious beliefs are important to you.  But harder is not impossible.  And perhaps by being aware of this challenge, you can make choices that will help set you up for finding a compatible match.

That’s my two cents.

What are your thoughts?

-CS Woman

Image from  pexels.com

Nice Guys Finish Last?

Boy_Girl_FlowersR

Recently, a friend introduced me to a guy via e-mail. (Full-disclosure: I’m not opposed to being set-up.  I figure, “you never know”.) However, the online introduction didn’t go so well.  The man is single (obviously), Christian, has a good job, and possibly a really interesting backstory.  But to be honest, there was no “spark”.

It’s often said that nice guys finish last or that women want a “bad boy”.  However, I would argue that a healthy woman isn’t looking for a “bad boy”, but she is looking for a spark or at least a reason to carry on a conversation with a potential interest.

In short, being nice isn’t enough.

For example, I consider myself to be a hard worker.  But if I go on a job interview, it’s not enough for me to dress the part and smile.  I have to do my research and find a way to demonstrate my ability to do the job well. I kind of have to “sell” myself a little bit.

Certainly, no one wants to feel like they are on a job interview when they are on a date or meeting someone for the first time, but if you want to capture someone’s interest-especially a stranger, you may need to bring more to the interaction than the equivalent of a great smile and a nice suit.

So, if you are a “nice” person trying to capture someone’s interest-especially online, here are some tips…

  1. Don’t send a group photo.
  2. 1st impressions matter. Have a game plan.
  3. Learn the art of small talk.

My first introduction to this guy was with a group photo. In my opinion, if you want someone to know what you look like, sending a group photo of yourself is self-defeating.

Perhaps you could write some sort of caption such as I’m the 2nd guy in the red shirt, on the top row, second to the right.  But why not “press the easy button” and just send a photo of yourself?

Which leads me to the next point, 1st impressions matter. Your first impression doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should seem like you put in a little bit of effort into the introduction.

From my understanding, this guy saw a video of me playing guitar and decided that he wanted to be introduced. I don’t know the complete details of what led to the exchange,  but something sparked his interest enough to ask for my contact information.

But from the first introductory sentence, it became clear that he didn’t seem to have a “game plan”.  (Back to the job analogy… it’s kind of like applying for a job, but when the interviewer calls you, you don’t have anything to say.) So, our conversation from the start, felt awkward and strained.

Instead of asking me questions or sharing a witty anecdote or interesting fact about himself,  the conversation kept veering to some variation of “How’s your day going?”.

To be fair, asking someone about their day is a polite question, but it’s a poor question to ask if your intention is to get to know someone, which leads me to the next point.

Learn the art of small talk.

The simplest way to do this is to Be Interesting and Be Interested. It’s been said that if you can get someone to talk about something that they are genuinely interested in, they will have a lot to say.

-So-

What do you find interesting and what kind of interests does the other person have? If you are lucky, you might find out that you are both interested in the same things.  But if your only “go to move” on the conversational dance floor is asking someone “How’s your day?” You may never find out if you have anything in common.

To be fair, this guy is from another country, so perhaps there was a language/cultural barrier, but a person can never go wrong with simple questions such as…

  • Where are you from?
  • What do you do for a living? What do you like the least/most about your job?
  • Have you read any good books or seen any good movies lately?

And if you happen to know about some of their hobbies you can ask things like…

  • I heard you ran a 5k recently.  How long have you been running? Do you have any events that you’re training for? (Just be clear, I don’t run unless I’m being chased.)
  • I saw you play guitar.  You play well (compliment). How long have you been playing? Do you write your own music?  What inspires you?

Like a cliff-hanger at the end of the season finale, you want to find a way to create some type of momentum…suspense…a spark.

Attraction at the end of the day is about creating interest or at least a positive experience for the other person.  So, creating a scenario where the other person has to try to draw you out of your shell or come up with interesting questions, is not a great way to make a good impression.

So, I’m sure that this guy is nice, perhaps exceptionally nice.  But it would have been nice if he would have tried a different approach in attempting to bridge the gap with a stranger.

So, those are my thoughts.  What tips do you have when it comes to meeting someone new?

-CS Woman

Image from  pexels.com

Hear this-You Don’t Have To Be Perfect

Do you remember the saying-“Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back”?

I do. I remember anxiously hopping and skipping over the thin lines of concrete trying to ensure the safety of my mother’s well-being.

I’m not sure when I stopped believing that my pedestrian choices had the ability to inflict medical calamity on those that I loved…

-But-

I still identify with the feeling that I need to execute my life decisions perfectly in order to ensure that my world will not implode.

Part of the reason that I have not written more is that I’ve been struggling with many areas of my life-faith, health, job (finally got a new one), avoiding stalkers, etc.

However, as I embark on the start of a new year, I’m learning to “not be so hard on myself”.

I’m learning that sometimes good enough is truly good enough.

-And-

Even if I don’t execute things perfectly, all I can do is my best.  God can/will pick up the slack.

So, if you need encouragement or just a reason to dance around in your living room, I leave you with the songs that have been on heavy rotation on my iPhone. They’ve been a reminder that I don’t need to be perfect and that it’s okay to have some dark days.

Happy Belated New Year!

-CS Woman

Hear This…one more thing

Last week I featured MuteMath.  In my search for clips, I stumbled upon the realization that their drummer has quite the cult following.

I’m not a percussionist, so I can’t fully appreciate the awesomeness that is Darren King, but I thought I’d feature some of his jams and some of my favorite songs from MuteMath that feature his skills.

Enjoy…

 

 

Making “The Cut”

The new year is here.  And with it comes the pressure to make radical, life-altering changes. Although, I don’t make resolutions, I want to continue to make choices that will keep me healthy. And in my quest for health, I’m looking for ways to be more physically active.

I enjoy lap swimming and water aerobics, but I also like to do workout videos.  Recently, I stumbled on a great series call “The Cut”. If you’ve ever had the desire to unleash your “inner crime-fighting, super-hero alter ego”, this video series may be for you.

It’s fast paced, lots of fun and can be done conveniently at home.  If  you check out the videos, let me know what you think. 🙂

And let me know if you have made any resolutions.

 

Hear This…

As a former music major and lifelong music enthusiast, I will admit that I’m a music snob. So, it’s always a pleasure to find a Christian musician who not only has “uplifting” content but is actually a good musician and lyricist too.

Meet Josh Garrels.

I realize that I might be a little late to the party, but I’m grateful that a friend tipped me to this guy.  And if you haven’t heard of him, you’re in for a treat.

A Foreign Affair

I think a lot of our ideas about attraction and “mating” are very specific to our culture.

Recently, I watched two documentaries on Netflix that gave me some food for thought about how we, as Americans, think about attraction and marriage.

Meet The Patels, centers around an Indian-American actor who is on the cusp of 30. According to his cultural expectations, this situation is unacceptable. So, after some thought, he agrees to let his parents intervene with his love life.  And ultimately, he agrees to a modern-day take on pursuing an arranged marriage.

What I found fascinating about the film was the idea, that marriage is such an important part of his culture and community, that the older generation didn’t leave partnering up to chance.  In addition, there seemed to be an intentional goal of passing on the traditions, morals, and values of previous generations.  It also appeared that this “rite of passage” was/is so important that people created a process to ensure that like-minded individuals could meet and marry each other. I also liked the fact, that the community was vested in making sure that the potential couple was vetted for compatibility, character, interests, etc.

Granted, I say this as an outsider to the Indian/Indian-American community, so I don’t have a grasp on the nuances of reality of this idea. But some of the concepts presented were interesting and compelling.

I grew up in the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” pandemonium, which although good intentioned, brought a lot of confusion and hang-ups to the single, Christian community.

To that end, there is a tendency for many singles to “date in a vacuum”, which is isn’t particularly beneficial.   I think there’s tremendous value in having the previous generation pour into our lives.  And I also think it’s very valuable to have married couples weigh-in on our dating decisions. Through this interaction, there’s an opportunity for people to share their mistakes, successes, and the tips that have helped them weather the storms of life in a partnership.  I feel that we need this knowledge and I wish it was more freely offered and given.

The other film (Love Me), profiled American men, who after various failed attempts at finding love in the States, decide to take a chance on a “mail-order bride” from another country. Yes, this concept is extreme and some of the men are “interesting”.  However, this film made me think.  It made me question the concept of attraction.  In fact, the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” comes to mind.

If we’re honest, there is some level of reciprocity in relationships. The value of  the”goods” is often determined by culture.  Meaning…what we find physically attractive, the amount of value that we place on physical desirability or the ability to provide, etc. is often determined by the society around us.

So, it was interesting to see men, who some would not find desirable in the US, being desired and valued elsewhere. Granted, I realize that the ideas presented in this film are complicated at best. (I am not advocating the mail-order bride arrangement.) However, it did make me think about my American concept of attraction.  Is it possible that I, we are missing out on good people because they don’t fit our preconceived notions of what is desirable in our culture.

What are your thoughts?  If you’ve seen the movies, weigh-in.  Even if you haven’t, what do you think about today’s approach to dating and marriage?

Meet The Patels

 

Love Me

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