Posts made in April, 2010

Blast From the Past

I hear I made some waves with that last post but had some positive (private) feedback to it.  This next post comes from Margo who touches on some pertinent and ever-pervasive topics of late night drinking and ‘peer pressure’.  Guess we didn’t learn enough in D.A.R.E…

The first two years post-college are the toughest in terms of adjusting to the non-partying work lifestyle.  Those of us who looked forward to our Tuesday night drink specials were in for a cruel awakening when we learned that we had to actually be awake and functional for Wednesday mornings in the real world.  That said, I have personally traversed through the the ebb and flow of withdrawal symptoms and have defeated the tempting cravings of the days when I was cool.

Drinking and going out have moved to their place in the rear-view mirror of my life and have been replaced with long dinners, a nice glass of wine with a movie on the couch, or simply going to sleep.  I felt old when sleep became more important than going out, but I have made peace with that fact…or so I thought.  This past weekend I was confronted with a form of peer pressure I was not well acquainted with, that is, the blast from the past – my old party friends.

I had a couple of out of town visitors who weren’t just good friends, but the ones with whom our friendships were founded on late nights of boozing, walks of shame, and those hilariously degrading texts from a stranger’s phone requesting to be picked up at 6AM because you cant find your keys, phone, or wallet and somehow you are missing a shoe.  Overwhelmed with excitement upon first meeting up with my friends, I did not consider how tired I was from my full day at work and proceeded to drink and go out the way I would have in college.  Needless to say, my body couldn’t handle it.  No I was not vomiting all over the bar, but rather the fun of graying-out became a whirlwind of exhaustion, headaches, and blurred vision.  My inability to enjoy the freedom of being drunk was downright embarrassing.

The next day I was ashamed to admit that the last thing I wanted to do was rally again.  This made me curious.  I thought I prided myself on being past the peer pressure stage of my life, yet I couldn’t deny the tinge of humiliation I felt.  What was it that made me so fearful of the reaction “ugh lame.”  Or “dude wtf”?  In the end, I’m still unsure. All I know, is that while I had fun, at the end of the day, I was so so SO happy to get to sleep and back to my routine.  And I refuse to believe that I am the only one.

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Let’s Talk About Sex

I’ve proven that I’m pretty open when it comes to sharing my experiences and p.o.v., but there’s got to be a line somewhere and this is where I’m drawing it.  It’s come up in many a conversation for me to write about dating and sexual expectations in your 20s and 30s.  I’m going to take the vantage point as onlooker and try to synthesize the experiences of my friends and peers, rather than share any personal experiences (forgive me just this once).

In high school (at least in mine), ‘hooking up’ came with a badge of honor. As a guy, the more girls you ‘got with’ or the ‘farther you went’, the bigger the badge.  As a female, there was a fine line: ‘guys liked you’ and thus, ‘you were desirable’ if you were with a variety of guys, but beware of that invisible line whereby suddenly you’ve been with too many and you’re a slut.  More so, it wasn’t okay to speak openly about your sexuality as a female, as you ‘weren’t supposed to have’ these urges, all-the-while expected to ‘randomly hookup’.  I hope you’re following along…

In college, sleeping around, whether male or female, was completely acceptable.  Better yet, dating, as one would traditionally think of it, beginning with courtship, followed by some amount of mutual interest or commitment to one another, leads to sex.  Not in college.  Rather, one has sex (or ‘hooks up’) and then if it continues for long enough, they inevitably end up ‘dating’.  Seems as though the ‘dating’ oftentimes becomes the justification for the action to either ensure that it continues and/or to make the partner feel better about doing it, as whether or not one admits it, emotions get involved.

Post-college, the landscape of sex is interesting.  Some friends think of it as something to be had at will, while others rarely share that with anyone.  Yet, I hear over and over that there seems to be an unspoken ‘sexpectation’ surrounding dating.  First date: Kiss? No kiss?  Maybe even sex?  Second date: Either a progression or continuation of the sexual activity from the first.  Third, Fourth, etc: I’m told that if sex isn’t being had at this point, the dating either fizzles out, or there may be the awkward talk as to why one or the other dater is ‘holding out’.  Herein lies the small minority who are not having sex at all.  There certainly continues to exist such sub-category, but rarely it seems (aside from in religious circles, where even there, it seems to be fewer and farther between).

For those who have had a sexual history, but aren’t interested in sleeping around, it seems that there is a difficult road to hoe when it comes to casual dating.  I say that because for two people who are mutually committed to waiting to have sex, that line is oftentimes communicated and agreed upon.   But, for said dater who is cautious about with whom he/she sleeps, there is no ‘rule of thumb’, thus causing some challenges.

What’s even more interesting to me is in speaking with some of my male friends, they’re absolutely okay with sleeping with someone on the first encounter, but would rarely consider him/her ‘date-able’.   Then, if they actually like someone, they’re more willing (and sometimes interested) in waiting.  Quite the reverse of college, and even the reverse of what I’ve noted to be the perception of many a single female dater, convinced that they need to decide one way or the other: have sex and continue to date, or don’t and stop seeing each other.

For whatever this is all worth, there it is.  I’m eager to hear from everyone as to your perceptions (or experiences if you’re interested in sharing).  Let’s talk about sex…

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Couple + Friends = Disharmony

As I welcome back guest blogger Margo, I want to remind Betwixter readers new and old that I’m always in the market for  guest writers (anonymous are welcome, too).  Many of you express interest, so pop one out and share with your quarter-life community!

Take a read:

Following Ms. Betwixter’s lead on the theme of navigating through friends and peers in different walks of life, I wanted to add my own two cents about being in a relationship.  I am in a relationship.  Albeit, a relationship with an ex whom my friends have a love-hate relationship with (as i suspect most loving and loyal friends would).  That said, to me the relationship is still new. I would equate it with the feeling of finding that your favorite old pair of jeans fit you perfectly and suddenly you have a brand new wardrobe. The point of me explaining this is to relay the fact that, to me, this relationship thing feels new.

Along with that new-ness is my role in my group of friends.  I am no longer the person the girls call to go out with for a night on the town. Or the one that has the awesome day-after stories.  I’ve become the person they request for dinner. And the person they expect to be in on a Saturday night.  And if I arrive at a pregame or bar, I am unapproachable.  All the boys I presumed I was friends with don’t talk to me.  Apparently because I have arrived with someone, I cannot be asked how I am doing or how work is or be offered a drink.

Having a boyfriend apparently translates into “I don’t want to hang out with my friends and I can only hang out with my boyfriend and I am entirely codependent and I don’t make my own decisions.” I suppose if I had more confidence I could counter these claims by simply not caring, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I am disappointing my girlfriends.  Does farewell to being single mean saying farewell to fun? I feel the growing scorn of my single contemporaries and I feel left out.

I do not have many friends in relationships, so I am the odd man out.  But I know a big part of this is also getting ME to accept that I am in a new place in life.  That I cannot be getting drinks from various men, that I don’t want to have the hilarious yet shameful walk of shame stories, and that perhaps I do enjoy time with my boyfriend watching movies on a Saturday night. I have fun, it’s just a different kind of fun. While I wish my single friends wouldn’t throw me out with the bathwater, I can understand why being with “a couple” isn’t exactly their preference.  It’s just hard accepting that I am now that girl. The one with a boyfriend.

Note from Ms. Betwixter:  In this edition, Margo bridges a topic I’m sure we all have faced from one side of the coin or the other (or both). Certainly a situation that varies within friend circles dependent on who is(n’t) in a relationship at the time.  While there can certainly be jealousy involved on the part of the single friends (both of the time lost to the significant other as well as those who wish they were coupled up), it’s also just natural that people in similar life stages cling together.  Goes back to my thoughts on having some difficulty fitting into the lives of my friends/family with children or who are married.  Like Margo said about watching a movie on a Saturday night, priorities and preferences change.  I do hope for Margo and others that if that relationship status were to change, that the friend circle would welcome her back with open arms.  Although, and Margo can speak for herself on this one, there’s always the criminal friend who completely neglects all of his/her friends while in a relationship and comes back to a group of resentful buddies post-breakup.  Ladies and gents: single or taken, remember that regardless of whether or not you’re coupled up, you can’t forget your friends. (Insert collective awww.)

Well, I’m off tomorrow to the Keys with my best friends from high school (that’s right, you can still make time no matter the physical distance or stage in life), so catch you all next week!

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lady with a baby stroller

I’ve written at length in the past about my struggles with relating to friends who are in different stages of life that I’ve not experienced.  Specifically, I spoke about it in regards to babies.  I’ve heard people say that being the relative to a baby is the best of both worlds because you can enjoy the good stuff  that comes with kids, but then give the child back to his/her parents when you’re ready to get back to your life.

My older brother and his wife gave me this opportunity when they became new parents in October.  Today I had the experience of going with them to a very crowded local festival and was given the honor of pushing around my niece’s stroller.  Immediately I noticed a few things change in my awareness: 1. I felt that any ‘game’ I may have with the opposite sex went right out the window,  2. My focus went from myself and those around me to the experience that Nyla (my niece) was having, and 3. Pushing a big stroller around a people and dog-filled park is not an easy task (and furthermore, this particular neighborhood could really use some new sidewalks that are not disheveled and cause this baby’s experience to be like an off-roading 4-wheeler).

While this was only a tiny window into the world of my friends with babies, it was a good experience to get a glimpse of how these everyday experiences really are changed when there’s a baby in the equation.  Whether it was where we sat so as not to be in the sun, when to leave because the baby was getting tired, or where the literal path of least resistance would be to move baby Nyla from one side of the festival to the other, it was all a helpful and unexpected baby step (pun unintended) into the world of my mother and father friends.

Thanks to my brother and his wife for even trusting me with the life of their child in this crowd, but I’m sure they were just pleased to have a couple hours with another set of hands!  I’m glad to have had this impromptu experiment into parenthood, but am even more glad to be home alone, with cat and computer, and no baby.

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suffocation by motivation

I understand that we all set out to live the life we choose, and I think there are a lot of ingredients in that equation: two parts upbringing, one part peer group, a dash of experiences, and a tablespoon of genetic predisposition.  At least, this is to what I equate my sometimes suffocating variety of hopes/goals/dreams.

I’ve touched on this in the past, but I really do wish that for a day I could entirely step out of my body and authentically experience what it’s like to not live in my brain, constantly pressing myself to achieve the lists of things I want and am confident I can be or do.  While I certainly don’t want to lose touch with these desires, I know there’s a lot to be learned from my friends and peers who are able to really live in the moment, not to be distracted by what I ‘should’ or ‘could’ be doing.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ swan song, but rather an honest admission that this way of life, while at times extremely rewarding, can also be quite suffocating and certainly exhausting.

If any of you are hypnotherapists and are able to help this Betwixter let go enough to fall under the spell for just a moment, take me up on this plea to put me in the trance and guide me to just enjoy!

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