Category Archives: dating

The Art of Dating

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There are definitely some things in life I never saw myself doing. Being a teacher is one (who has the patience?!). Living at home till I was twenty-six is another. Getting on the almond milk bandwagon is yet another (everybody’s doing it, it’s fewer calories, and now I can eat more cheese).

The one that really stands out, though? Online dating.

After dating a few guys in college, going on a handful of random dates with no seconds, getting set up on a blind date and fingers-crossed this was the last first date I’d ever go on, I find myself fully immersed in the bizarre culture that is ONLINE DATING. I don’t think anyone envisions themselves online, trolling through profiles, swiping right, swiping left, liking, what-have-you, but so many people my age are doing it.

Which is good, because that makes the pool just a tad bigger.

Which is bad, because it means that there are hundreds of people on here and each one of them has different expectations, different assumptions, and different ways of expressing this thing called attraction.

For the girl who thought she’d only ever date one guy and then marry him, I have certainly become the expert — at least at the beginning stages. I know basically how interested to appear, how often to text, what topics of conversation to avoid and what topics bring out the side of me that’s just a tad too intense, or how lightly I should graze an arm on that first date.

What I don’t know is how to choose.

I don’t know how to be discerning enough ahead of time. I find myself sitting in a bar with a man I would never go out with had we met in real life. And so, I fill an hour, hour-and-a-half, with questions, just enough information on my end not to be a jerk, and wondering why I didn’t make plans for afterwards so I could make a smooth exit.

I have never been on so many dates with so many men in my life. I fear I am perfecting an art I never wanted to pursue.

As for the array of assumptions, they are vast but they are becoming predictable. There are two ends of the spectrum: the first one is not so shocking, given our current society’s views of dating and sex — a good number of guys are barely able to veil their main reason for asking me out, and I’m learning to let go of my naiveté and accept that we have different sexual ethics and bid them adieu.

The second, though, has surprised me a bit more, and left me feeling a little less sure of my own motives. There is a loneliness in the world that I have rarely observed in the people in my life. It is meeting me head-on, here, in this virtual world, and the deep loneliness reaches out from these men and grasps at me, hoping that I am the one to relieve them of their darkness.

A few have texted me daily even before we’ve met. Once we’ve met, they assume I want to jump into a serious relationship, that I am dating only them, that I am doing my best to be single for as short a time as possible, and that I want to hear trite, romantic bullshit as a symbol of their affection. There is almost nothing that turns me off faster than language that doesn’t convey its truth, and anyone who’s only been on one date with me has no business pretending to know who I am. Isn’t that what this game is, anyway? It feels sometimes like they have a list of bullet points in chronological order: 1. Text incessantly, 2. Find her on Facebook, 3. Find out where she is every evening, 4. Convince her that you are sincere, and 5. Try to get her to see you again and again, even after she has clearly stated she is not interested.

The thing is, I am under no illusions that I can just sit back and wait for an amazing man to walk into my life. I, also, need to learn how to express myself, my feelings, and my admiration in a way that is received and desired by the individual man I am interested in. I have a lot of work to do — learn how to engage people as other, independent creations who have valuable things to offer even if I don’t share all the same values, philosophies, or sense of humor.

Just as much, though, I need to learn how to be straightforward in saying no. In saying, It was nice meeting you. Thank you, but no thank you. 

I wish they didn’t make it so difficult. I wish they didn’t make me actually say: “I am not interested in you.” I wish they could receive the truth in softer words, but sometimes (as I have experienced as well) it takes a blow to drive home the truth.

And the few I’ve liked, the few I’ve thought Huh, maybe…well, they haven’t felt the same way.

There’s got to be someone who falls somewhere between these two extremes. Someone whose pace falls in line with mine.

I hope to write a funnier post in the future, perhaps a list of Dos and Don’ts of online dating, or just a story or two (trust me, they’re hilarious…and a little terrifying). Right now, though, there isn’t much funny about the disconnection of human beings, the desire for love that doesn’t seem to get filled, or the fact that I am consistently bashing my head against a dark wooden bar because I had to go through the list of things I enjoy doing “in my free time” AGAIN.

[Photo: mrhayata]

Expectations

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I’m standing in front of a tent full of people. I’ve finished my glass of white wine, my cowboy boots are cutting into my ankles, and my lace dress feels just a bit too sweaty to be beautiful. I unfold the crumpled paper, look out at these faces, some I know, some I do not, and I begin to read.

Joe, I have known Ashley a long time.

It feels a lot like singing, this performance, in the way that time moves so swiftly I don’t quite notice it’s passing. I read all the words. I look up once in awhile, smile at the appropriate times, slow down when I feel like I’m rushing. But I’m not really aware of what I’m doing or how I’m doing it. It might be that everyone’s looking at me but hardly anyone knows my name. It might be the heat of June. It could be stage fright. It’s probably all three.

I know what I talked about only because I wrote it down. I painted a picture of when we were little girls, playing Little House on the Prairie and baking together, playing Manhunt on summer nights. I talked about loyalty and love — only briefly — because they are things I don’t feel fully equipped to address. How can anyone wax wise on ideas of lifelong and commitment and trust?

Suddenly, I am done. I smile again, she is crying, and we hug. I hug Joe, too, and sit down quickly. I feel embarrassed, surprised, that I have just given my first maid-of-honor speech, and I’m not even sure how it went.

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I knew in the back of my mind that one day, I would be a maid-of-honor. I thought that perhaps I would have to give a speech, tell a story, celebrate two lives becoming one. I knew all of this, and yet I was surprised.

~     ~     ~

I sit across from him and I think: I don’t know you. I don’t know anything about you.

It’s hard to give someone a shot when you compare him to someone you’ve known for awhile, or, at least, someone you thought you knew, and who now colors your interactions with but I wanted someone like this, and this. 

Things never end up the way you expect.

~     ~     ~

We sit in a restaurant, and the waitress gives us free watermelon sangrias. Someone’s mistake has become our blessing. Susie looks at me and says, “A good omen!”, and we toast to the beginning of our new lives in a city busier than my little hometown of 26 years. Who knows what lies ahead? So we toast and smile and hope.

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We pose for a picture — two high school friends who accidentally followed each other into adulthood. The caption? “2015-2016…bring it!” Even as we’re smiling, I am aware that much lies ahead. Every year is unknown. Bad things happen. Students cry. I get frustrated with myself for everything that I lack, and as I’m smiling for this photo in late August, a little bit of fear creeps in and settles in my stomach.

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It’s December in two days. We want to get a Christmas tree, but we’re not sure how to get it home. The convertible is not conducive to carrying trees, so we’re pretty sure we’ll be trekking it two miles. I can picture cars whizzing past us, shaking their heads with pity at those poor girls in L.L. Bean boots dragging a tree halfway across the city. Worse things have happened. I climb the winding stairs to the third floor apartment, open the door, see the perfect place for a tiny tree in the living room.

I drink tea and hang Christmas lights around the windows in my room. I am at the same time content and longing, happy with a tinge of sadness. I burn a cedar candle because we haven’t gotten the tree yet and I want that fresh smell. I wonder what to get my mother for Christmas, and I think about last Christmas and how much I stressed over a gift that didn’t end up mattering. I think of two books that sit on a shelf — haphazardly, I’m sure, or perhaps on the floor — and I wonder how many things will end up differently than I expect a year from now.

What will Christmas 2016 look like?

Will I look back and think, Praise God?

Will I focus on the smell of fresh-cut trees, the laughter of roommates floating in from the living room, the joyful way we ate breakfast on the back porch in the sunlight?

Or will I feel heavy with the weight of the unknown? Or, perhaps, the now-known but not-wanted?

Sometimes you are maid-of-honor at a childhood friend’s wedding. Sometimes you stop talking to someone you love. Sometimes, you sit across from a man and give him a chance.

Nothing ever turns out exactly the way you expect.

Dating in College?!

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“What’s dating like in college?”

My senior girls looked earnestly at me over their lunches. There’s no denying that having five guys in your year at school doesn’t play in your favor.

“Not so great,” I said, and regretted it immediately.

I scolded myself because I knew the door I’d just opened wouldn’t be closed easily. They wanted to know why – their eyes crestfallen, their hopes dashed by one sentence.

I prefaced everything with: “Well, you know things didn’t end well for me, so my opinions are skewed – I’m sure if I married someone I dated in college, I would have a very different view.”

But as I think about it now, hours later, I wonder if this is true. Because even if I had married someone I dated in college, that wouldn’t change the fact that the whole thing was quite awkward and oddly polarizing and much more work than I ever thought it should be.

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I told them I went to a small Christian college.

I told them I loved it there, but that there was a strange social construct around dating. That you don’t date, actually, but you have a boyfriend. That going on dates wasn’t really something you did. You either were in a relationship or you were starkly single.

That some girls could have guy friends, but lots couldn’t.

That I was never once asked out on a date, but somehow found myself “dating” two boys over my four years.

That there was pressure from people immediately.

That I didn’t know any better.

That there is such a thing as a good relationship. And a bad relationship. And somewhere in between.

That even though I praise God for sparing me from a terrible choice, it doesn’t change the fact that I had been wooed (or wooed myself) into thinking it was the right choice.

I told them all this over lunch, in the senior lounge, them leaning across the table.

They’ve been waiting four years to date, college beckoning to them, claiming to be full-to-bursting with attractive, single, emotionally mature young men.

And I said, “The thing is, girls, you’ve been waiting four years to date, but when you get to college, you realize they’re all the same boys.”

They’re all the same boys.

And yes, there are winners. There are awesome young men who know what they want and will treat you well.

But they’re just a few months removed from high school. Just like you.

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When I was sure I’d bruised their hopeful hearts forever, I tried to make things look less bleak. I told them about my dating experience since college – how I’ve been on dates and not felt pressured (Is he the one? Who cares?! I’m in my twenties and I’m figuring out who I am and who I want to be with! It’s a first date, darn it!). I told them it’s been a lot better, that I’ve filled my coffer with story after story – some good, some bad, most hilarious – and that even if their dating lives in college aren’t all they thought they would be, there’s hope.

I did not go into detail (trying to keep some boundaries), but I wish I could’ve told them how dating in college seems to be more about who you think you’re supposed to be instead of who you are. At least it was that way for me. I might have told them that I’m happier than ever, and regardless of what my future dating brings, I know I am a better person for giving it a try.

They’re sure to at least have good tales to tell me when they visit in the summer.

I should’ve told them to start a blog about it.

 

[Dating for Dummies photo: ZacVTA]

[Czech Couple photo: Ard Hesselink]

[Seville Couple photo: BMP]

Using Our Eyes

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Today I’d like to share a post I wish I’d read oh, say, maybe ten years ago. Stephanie writes about relationships and how, maybe instead of asking for intangible signs, we should really just open our eyes.

Too many times I’ve watched people wait and wait. I’ve done it myself. But maybe if we trusted our senses more, we wouldn’t decide, we would choose.

Read more over at The Answer to all our Relationship Questions: Our Eyes.

Proposal of the Century

I blame Disney, but I’m not sure that’s entirely fair.

Somehow, somewhere, I got the idea that romance had to be BIG. Dates had to be special and frequent. The proposal had to be elaborate, perhaps with candles or a sunset thrown in.

“Mama, how did Daddy propose?”

It was an innocent enough question for a five or six-year-old. I remember my mom pausing, furrowing her brow a little.

“Hmmmm. Well, we talked about it at Calitiri’s.”

I did not understand.

“You talked about it? You mean, he didn’t surprise you?”

[Insert helicopter landing with champagne here.]

“No, no surprise. I remember eating dinner and your father and I talked about getting married.”

“But then later he got down on one knee, right? And gave you a ring?”

[Insert the many proposals Anne of Green Gables got and turned down in the snow.]

“No, there was no ring, honey. Well, he did give me a sapphire at Christmas, but that wasn’t really an engagement ring.”

The dinner conversation happened in October and they were married in May.

“At least you got a honeymoon, right? Where did you go?”

“We went to Nova Scotia on a boat from Maine. We stayed in a cabin and it was freezing.”

I remember trying to understand why there wasn’t more. I thrived off stories, but my parents didn’t really give me much to work with. A dinner conversation? No surprise? No down-on-one-knee? Are you kidding me?

Where was the princess treatment?

Where was the extended year-long planning process?

Where was the gift registry? The two-week European honeymoon? The violins?

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I was five and I thought men treated the women they loved like princesses. Look at Belle or Cinderella, for instance. You don’t see them having conversations about things. I thought that maybe my father didn’t quite know how it worked. I thought that love and romance were the same thing, and my parents just didn’t get it.

These days, my friends would probably say that I’m not a romantic. They tend to like things a little more mushy, a little more This Is Supposed To Be Romantic. The thing is, I’ve been thinking lately, maybe my parents had something right.

What’s better than down-on-one-knee with a ring and roses?

Maybe an eyes-to-eyes and mind-to-mind conversation.

Maybe a six-month whirlwind-ish engagement.

Maybe a focus on the marriage instead of the pomp and circumstance leading up to it.

~     ~     ~

I have so many friends getting married now, and each one is doing things differently. Some are “The bigger the better!” and others are more low-key, and that’s okay. I can’t wait to go to weddings, be in weddings, see the love that I’ve watched grow over the past few years. I’m loving the process of choosing colors and flowers and dresses, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Everyone has a different style.

My romantic just looks a little more like a conversation.

[This is not to say that I will never once post a photo of me and the lucky guy, or that I won’t announce our upcoming nuptials on facebook. I may be a luddite, but I know where to draw the line.]

[Photo credit: Sarah. Thanks for going on a cruise!]

I Write Life

When I was a little girl, I was certain I would love only one man. In fact, I was pretty sure that we would grow up together, that he’d be a boy down the street and that suddenly one glorious summer evening we would both realize we’d loved each other all along. He’d touch my cheek (ala, Gilbert Blythe) and whisper some friendly tease as we began to imagine our future.

I thought this way for years, really, as a young girl reading Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, and Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. It’s possible I even wrote an 83-page novella (by hand) about a girl name Willa realizing the same thing about her friend Peter as they splashed each other in the secret pond in the woods. (If that isn’t some not-so-secret sexual tension in my 12-year-old writing, I don’t know what would be.)

And then one day, it occurred to me:

If I say I want to grow up with the boy I marry, that means I have to KNOW HIM NOW.

And I looked around at the boys I knew, and though I loved them dearly, I quickly revised my dream.

Never mind. I think it’s much better to meet later, in college, to be more grown up. Never mind. I’ll wait.

So I grew up, still thinking I would love one man and one man forever.

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The summer after my junior year, I interned at a publishing house in Boston. One of my tasks was to edit the text in their new database. I was responsible for fixing bizarre spaces in the mid dle of w ord s and checking line breaks, and in the process of doing this, I read some strange and awful and thought-provoking books. One was a memoir by a woman whose name I don’t remember. It had a light blue cover and it was mostly filled with a string of lovers, each one daring and handsome, social and introverted, crazy and calm. The image I have most strongly from her book is a story of her and one of her lovers (she was in her late fifties by now, I think) and they are in one of their apartments. It’s been a day of lounging around, eating and love making, and I don’t know what happened exactly, but I remember distinctly feeling a sense of her happiness. That she viewed this doomed relationship with love and tenderness. She still thought of this man fondly, despite their different paths and the pain they both felt.

I was twenty-one years old.

So I sat in my gray cubicle and in my self-righteousness, I thought: I don’t know how this is possible. She writes about these men – these men she didn’t stay with who broke her heart or who had their hearts broken by her – and she is smiling. I can feel it in her words. She is smiling at the memories with them, even as she realizes the relationships are dead.

I couldn’t understand her ability to find joy in something that was broken, and I couldn’t understand that she had loved more than one man.

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It’s three years later, and I can say with full honesty that I have loved more than one man. I might even say I’ve loved a small handful, none of them perfectly, some of them with false-starts of returned love, some of them even unwittingly requested by the receiver. If it’s taught me anything – this loving – it’s that each time is different and each time is imperfect and each time

I didn’t know how to end that sentence. Mostly because I’m not entirely sure what loving has taught me. I’d like to think that each time I get a little better at it, at both feeling it and showing it. At both being myself and enjoying someone else.

I’m glad, at twenty-four, that I can say I’ve loved more than one man. Not because it isn’t beautiful to be given that gift, but because I needed to break out of the idea of myself. I needed to see what it meant to live life instead of write it. I like to think that when I’m sixty-five, I will be telling my stories of love and un-love with a smile on my face. Because even though these men were not meant for me nor I for them, there is a reason one of us was drawn to the other, and that reason is worth telling.

Can men and women be friends?

When I was fourteen or fifteen, my father told me at breakfast one Saturday morning:

“Men and women can’t be friends. That’s just the way it is.”

I don’t remember what prompted this black-and-white statement, but I DO remember getting angry.

“Catherine, one will always want more than the other,” he went on, his voice softening a little.

I probably said “I’ll show you!”, or something else really mature, and proceeded to call one of my guy friends to play hacky sack or get pizza.

Since then, I’ve been pretty determined that my father was wrong. I’ve had a number of friendships with guys, and even though only a few have rivaled my female friendships in terms of emotional intimacy, these men have been just as dear to me. Friendships with guys look different, but, I thought, that’s just because we do different things together. Only on very rare occasions do we talk about our feelings – most of the time we play wiffle ball, touch football, a raucous game of foosball, or drink a beer by a bonfire.

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I’ve watched my guy friends date, new girlfriends circulating in and out, me trying to keep my distance long enough to determine if this one’s gonna stick. Weddings are coming up, the girlfriends (now fiancees) are just as dear to me as their guys, and I’m so excited to be part of their lives.

But my father’s words keep echoing in my mind. Men and women can’t be friends. There’s still something about this that doesn’t feel quite right. A little part of me wonders: Am I missing out on a beautiful, romantic love because I’m investing too much in my platonic relationships? Am I giving too much emotionally without expecting more?

Should I really stifle one kind of love in hopes of finding another kind? That doesn’t seem right, either. Friendship love, according to C. S. Lewis, is often even stronger than that of the romantic persuasion. To say otherwise would undermine all the female friendships I’ve enjoyed and grown from for so many years.

I don’t feel like I’m any closer to an answer. Most of my guy friends will never read this, and if some do, they’ll probably be the ones who’ll understand. Maybe these friendships will truly be able to transcend whatever silliness goes along with most male-female friendships, and this caring will teach me how to better care for someone down the road.

That’s what I hope, at least. Or, to quote my father again (he’s getting a lot of airtime these days):

“Maybe you’re over-thinking it.”

Restaurant Crush

[Unfortunately, there is no photo from this event. I, unlike most of my 20-something friends, do not own an iPhone. Besides, pretty sure you wouldn’t want a picture of what I’m about to describe.]

Over Christmas break, we all met up for brunch at one of our new-old haunts. Our favorite breakfast place relocated, so now we get the same delicious food in a bigger, noisier location. Oh well.

I was late because I double-booked and had a hair appointment. The girls graciously waited in the lobby til I arrived. There were hugs, and I’m pretty sure everyone around us was laughing because it’s nearly impossible not to revert back to high school when you’re with all your high school friends.

We squeezed into a round booth; M was fast to decide what she wanted (we applauded her growth in this department), we guzzled the delicious coffee, and we updated each other on our lives. Even though in some respects, we cling to our old roles, there are many changes. B and N are married now, so her pretty ring flashed as she animatedly told us her stories. S is moving for a new job. C is getting her Master’s, L is entering a certificate program and the world is moving forward.

It was great to hear all about their lives, but I have to admit one thing: I got distracted.

In walks a tall, rugged man in Timberlands and a plaid flannel shirt. He looks about our age, and he sits at a table directly across from me. It is really unfortunate (or fortunate?!) because throughout the entire meal, we keep making awkward (or not awkward?!) eye contact. I keep talking, trying to pretend that I don’t care if he’s watching, trying to pretend that I don’t feel 17 and fluttery over some woodsman at a restaurant.

The girls don’t even notice him. I think perhaps we have different taste.

[I DID pay attention to what the girls were telling me. I DID contribute my own stories. And I TRIED not to keep making eye contact with this stranger.]

As we’re paying the bill, I glance up one more time. I expect to see the side of his face as he  talks with the guy next to him. Instead, I see something that destroys my restaurant crush entirely: his fingers are clearly in his nose, and he proceeds to dispose of whatever they come up with IN HIS MOUTH.

This was not a five-year-old.

This was not in the privacy of a bathroom or even his own home.

I was so disappointed. Is this what I’m destined to get? A rough, outdoorsman who can’t help but pick his nose and eat the remains? Isn’t there someone out there who’s interesting, smart, rugged and makes me laugh, and doesn’t act like he’s entering preschool?

The girls just kept chattering on, not noticing my sinking heart at the fate of our seemingly-mutual glances.

Needless to say, my restaurant crush was not for me. Do I have to get all doom-and-gloom and project this experience on all men?

No.

Will I?

I hope not.

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[Insert hunk not picking his nose.]

What to do with joy

This morning I woke up to a little snow on the ground and birds everywhere.

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I also woke up to roughly the fifth engagement announcement on facebook. Two good friends from college got engaged right before Christmas (not to each other!), and the rest of us had secretly been wondering: Okay, what’s the hold-up, guys?

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I didn’t realize Christmas was the time to get engaged. I also didn’t realize how horribly some people deal with their own disappointment.

A status popped up recently, and it went something like this: “Stop posting your engagements on facebook. It just reminds me of how alone I am. Thanks.”

I blinked.

What? Was this person seriously asking others to contain their joy because they themselves didn’t share it?

What about the part in the Bible that says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn,” (Romans 12:15)?

I admit wholeheartedly that I have no problem mourning with those who mourn; this comes naturally, sadness, sympathy, and confusion being things I can understand and empathize with.

But rejoicing with those who rejoice? Isn’t that just as important?

The past two years, I’ve realized what it means to allow yourself to experience life fully. And that means allowing both deep pain and deep joy to be expressed.

I would never say to a friend, “Please, don’t cry anymore. I love you, but I don’t want to hear it.” (This despite my previous post about learning how to deal with other people’s pain.)

So how can we think that asking others to stifle joy is an appropriate response? Does the fact that others have found love and are looking forward to a life of marriage make you any more alone? Lonely? Sad?

Would them being single make you happier?

We are called to love one another. And one way that love is shown is through the sharing of joy.

I know that I won’t be able to keep myself from singing it from the rooftops, when I find someone to walk through life with. I don’t expect anyone else to, either.

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A First

All week, I think about the weekend. Even on days that go well, during lessons that rock, I think in the back of my mind, I can’t wait til the weekend. I can’t wait to hang out with friends. I can’t wait to do my thing. 

I think this every week, and then, on Friday night, all I can think about is sleep. And movies. And reading. and not seeing anyone.

What is wrong with me? It’s been over two months, now, and each weekend that comes up, I find myself at home again, doing quiet, contemplative things.

But every Monday morning, I think, shoot, I didn’t go out again. I stayed home AGAIN.

This weekend was different.

I went out with my sister and her friend, met them late after watching Argo with a boy I grew up with (it was so fun, chatting, nearly getting lost driving streets I’ve driven since I was sixteen, having him lean over and say, “We didn’t get nearly as much talking time as usual, watching this movie. We need to go out again soon.” Old friends are great.)

Later, when I met up with my sister, the place was crowded, the music was way too loud (as soon as I thought this, I cringed at my oldness), and the girls had already finished their drinks when I got there. I was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, since I hadn’t planned to go out at all. I was not looking my best, but I was feeling particularly happy.

The woman working at the bar came over, slid three cinnamon whiskeys towards us, and said, “These are from the three guys over there,” with a nod.

It was totally flattering, and after we drank the delicious cinnamony-delight, we let them sidle up to us and chat for about half an hour. It was fun, learning their names, talking about where we went to college (“Isn’t that super Christian?” they asked. “Yeah, it’s a Christian college.”). I was a little separate from the other girls, so most of the time I watched them interact, watched them laugh and flirt. It was almost more fun than doing it myself – no pressure, no assumptions.

Then my sister and her friend got up to go to the bathroom, leaving me alone. The boys were further away, but the dark haired one came up, smiling, saying, “Don’t want to leave you all alone.”

He told me he was going to college – for the first time at age twenty-four – to study Mechanical Engineering. He saw my VW key and made fun of me for having a “chick car.” I pointed out that I was, in fact, a chick.

The girls were only gone a moment, but it was long enough to feel good chatting with a stranger.

And then, as he was about to leave, he said something that normally would’ve shocked me.

“You’re really pretty,” he said. But then he went on: “I hope you get laid tonight.”

I couldn’t even react. It was like I didn’t really hear the words.

He wasn’t even being crass. He wasn’t trying to be insulting or embarrass me. His voice was low and kind, and his eyes were soft. He could’ve been my mother, saying “Honey, you look so beautiful!” Or my friend K telling me, “You deserve an amazing man, Cath.”

I couldn’t slap him or chastise him or say anything that would’ve told him I was a prude.

He was merely giving me a 21st-century compliment.

It’s not his fault, I guess. That’s what our culture tells us is the highest prize: laid-worthiness.

When I came home and told my mother, she looked at me, shocked. And then she laughed. She kept laughing all day, whispering the phrase under her breath.

He didn’t know who he was talking to. But still, I think there’s a soft spot in my heart for him. His dark hair, his Greekness, his easy way of talking. The compliment that flattered me and shocked me at the same time.

We are looking for such different things.