If he wants to leave, he is not the one (alternate title: The Beer Belly)

There was something fundamentally ephemeral and a tad pessimistic with the initial premise of this blog as it assumed I would always have spectacular dating catastrophes. Even a self-proclaimed forever-single girl can meet someone that will pleasantly surprise her – but he is not the topic of this post. And yes, now I do believe there is someone for everyone and that you just have to be patient, which is the topic of this post.

Ten years ago I was at work when a camera crew came to interview my boss; one of them had great hair and intense eyes. He must have noticed my stare because as he exited the office, he left me a flyer for a play he was starring in. The play led to an invitation to his after party, which blossomed into a three-month relationship. Sam* was thirteen years older than me and had it together: he was a journalist and video producer. As a 23 year-old at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I was drawn to him as a boyfriend and a mentor. Our time together was nice and I thought I could be happy with him.

As we dated, I realized Sam had a lot of grown-up drama in his life unrelated to me. He was sorting out finances with an ex-girlfriend with whom he had purchased a condo, he had a gravely ill parent and he had recently been robbed of his laptop, which contained his life’s work. One day he took the production company’s van overnight so we could go on a date – this was not an authorized use of the vehicle. Sometime that morning around 5 or 6 a.m. a female drunk driver sideswiped all the cars parked on my street before police apprehended her and placed her in the drunk tank. Sam had to file a complaint and missed his morning meeting. He must have interpreted the various events of that morning, and in his life in general, as a sign that we were not right together, at least not at the time.

Shortly after this disaster, Sam broke up with me. He never gave me a reason and I was disappointed because I thought he could be the one.

Girls, and this is where I would like you to listen carefully: if he wants to leave, he is not the one. The one is out there and when he finds you, he will stay.

Last week, I went out with my friend Veronika* to hear about her perpetual struggles with the same man, yet again.

“He told me he doesn’t think he can make me happy or that I can make him happy,” she said, confused.

“Well, that is a very strong statement and clear message,” I told her.

“We will talk about it tomorrow night at his place. I need to understand why.” V was insistent.

“You may never understand why. It would probably be cruel of him to tell the truth, if the truth is something like he never had feelings for you in the first place. Why do you want to do this to yourself?” I tried to talk some reason into her but she needed absolutes.

“It was so great in the beginning, I cannot ignore that and I want it back. We will have a serious discussion.” There was no changing her mind.

I care for my friend, which is why I am her sounding board time and again through this difficult time, but I wish she would understand that men know when it is not right. We may think at the time that we want him and that he is the perfect guy for us but a man often knows before the woman that the future would not be a happy one. I am not sure it is intentional; perhaps his primal instincts play a part here. Whatever the reason, when I look back now on all the guys into whom I put so much needless effort, I am thankful to God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Tom Cruise and the Cosmos that we did not end up together.

Yesterday, I was on a sunny terrace enjoying an Aperol spritz with my friend when she had to check something on her phone. I also decided to see if I had any notifications. The available Wi-Fi networks popped up and I saw “Sam Edward Brody’s iPhone.” I found it strange to put a full name on a personal hotspot connection but the uniqueness of the name and unlikelihood of such a blast from the past incited me to look around. I scanned the terrace and there he was. The same great hair was more silver fox than raven but it was definitely Sam. He was working on his laptop, hence the personal hotspot. It was a very 2017 way of “bumping” into someone.

Now, I am within 5kg of what I weighed ten years ago and aside from going from bleached blond to my natural hair, I look rather the same. Sam, on the other hand, had developed an enormous beer belly – in the interest of providing an accurate description but not to be unkind, I would liken his body to that of Santa Claus. His teeth confirmed he had maintained his steady tobacco intake over the decade and I cannot stand cigarettes. I still wanted to say hi. I pulled out my phone with a big smile and showed him how I knew he was there.

“Hello! First, middle and last name on your personal hotspot, huh?”

“I am not afraid,” he said with a smile. Then he said nothing else.

“Well, I just saw that you were here and wanted to say hi.”

“Hello,” he said.

I couldn’t believe it. We dated for three months and he didn’t remember me! I looked him up on LinkedIn and he is up to the same sort of projects for his own company this time and, ironically, I had gone on a couple casual dates with one of his junior employees about two years ago. I realized that he was right to break up with me ten years ago and I am so glad he had the courage to do it. Since he is a nice guy, if he hadn’t been so firm, I probably would have tried to make things work and one day found myself in a relationship that was just wrong. If I had stayed with him, I would have taken a very different path in life and would not be where I am today, and with whom I am today.

Readers, this is my point: the right person for you, if you two have not met yet, is out there and will also know that you are the right person. This is key. Love should be mutual. The wrong people may know they are the wrong people for you before you do and that’s OK. It is even a good thing. Sometimes, you have to trust that relationships end – or never start – for a reason, even if that reason doesn’t yet seem clear.

If you are going through a breakup, missing someone or feel like you are beating your head against the wall over a guy who cannot change, chin up! Rip off the Band-Aid. One day, you will see it was for the best, I promise.

 

– AE

There’s Always Room for Jell-O

photo

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” many women have said throughout history. It could be true but I also believe that men express their love with edibles. I have learned over the years that when a man puts time in the kitchen for a woman, it is often a tender expression of affection he might not be able to say with words.

Case in point: the journalist (we’ll get to him in another blog post) and the ski instructor (ditto) both prepared spaghetti carbonara for me early on into our relationships, although it was a pure coincidence that they each made the same dish. I must say that while Andrew’s pasta was savory with the unexpected addition of white wine, I appreciated Jesse’s attention to detail in adding freshly shaved nutmeg on top. The point is, the more a man cares, the more complex his dishes will get. At the height of our four-year relationship, Julien purchased a pressure cooker and prepared us blanquette de veau.

So the question is, how intertwined are our sexual and actual appetites? I would argue that lovers of pleasure enjoy each and every delicious way to awaken the senses. To make my point, let me illustrate the opposite scenario: Zach was a young man I briefly dated in college. He was an Abercrombie model. On our first date, he invited me over for dinner and to watch Pleasantville. If only I had known that “dinner” consisted of baby carrots and tofu, which were also the only things he ever ate because he needed to stay in perfect shape. Needless to say, the night was as bland as the soybean patty itself, and while I am not an unhealthy eater, being around him all the while craving a plate of chili fries made me feel like a piglet. It didn’t matter how many portfolio photos he showed me of his perfect torso, I made a mental note that evening never to date a man with a smaller behind than mine.

You might be wondering, and the answer is yes, I have also cooked often for men. They appreciate it for sure but I think the ones who really care get more pleasure out of watching a woman enjoy what they made. This holiday season, take off the oven mitts and try letting him get his hands dirty!

-Albany Eden

The Making of Albany Eden

When I was six years old, I remember crying hard. It was mostly out of frustration and intense feelings of inadequacy over my funky pedicure. I couldn’t understand it: I was great at coloring within the lines but when it came to applying that Maybelline fast-drying raspberry nail polish, I got more on my skin than nails and what I did manage to get on my tiny toenails had marks and smudges and chunks of cotton in it. Older girls could do it; I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. After several failed attempts, my eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t see clearly and I was wallowing in a pool of my own exasperation. I cried for several minutes.

That’s when my dad came onto the patio where I was sitting in a mess of acetone-drenched red cotton balls. He took one look at my raspberry fingers and the stains all over my clothes and sat down beside me. He really hadn’t ever painted toenails before (as evidenced by his side-to-side brush strokes rather than from cuticle to tip). With stern concentration and a steady hand, he gave me the most beautiful pedicure I would ever have.

Thanks to him, I developed a high esteem for men at a young age. However, as I got older it became more difficult for him to save me from the things that made me sad.

photoWhen I was 16 years old, I met my first love. Jackson was cute, Midwestern, athletic and one of those popular guys everyone likes to be around. In high school, I was the serious studyholic too prissy to smoke a cigarette or miss a homework assignment so I loved the way being around Jackson made me popular too. We would have intense discussions that would last all night. He made me mixed tapes with Paul McCartney and even handcrafted many lovely gifts for me including a wooden jewelry box and a needlepointed keychain. I trusted him completely. I thought we would be together forever. Then, when we ended up in different universities, a girl from my high school contacted me to tell me that Jackson was cheating with a white trash bimbo named Dawna. Up until that day, I was unfamiliar with the feeling of betrayal from a man. I cried for weeks.

When I was 26 years old, after many years alone, I started what would become a serious relationship with a former work colleague. Julien helped bear the burden of stress from life and took care of me. A woman who goes from her father’s house to the sorority house to her husband’s house might not appreciate this but I had been doing things on my own for years; his attentiveness and helpfulness were much appreciated. After we had been together for over three years, I decided I would surprise him with a romantic island vacation so, one day when he was in the shower, I went on his PC so he would come out and see the resort I had chosen on the screen. I started typing in the URL but then mistakenly pushed ‘enter’ on a strange site that appeared in the history. I was not at all prepared for what I saw. Julien, who that same week was begging me to start a family, had an online dating profile and was chatting with multiple other women. I cried for months.

*     *     *

Most of the men you read about in my Dating Catastrophes came after these three, who shaped me. Luckily, only one of the three matters and he is the one who gives me faith that great men do exist.

My dad left this world much too soon. Of all the men for whom I cried, only he truly deserved it. Remember that the only men worth crying over are the ones that will love you enough to stop your tears, not cause them.

 *     *     *

Where are they now?

Jackson: He called me multiple times every day for two weeks and I never took his calls. After time passed, he made a few attempts on MSN Messenger to reconcile. I never saw him again.

Dawna: I checked her facebook page (which is completely public) and Dawna today cannot be recognized as the cute girl she once was. She married a guy physically comparable to her and I wish them all the best.

Julien: He never got over the breakup and made multiple efforts to get back together. I do not return his messages. One person said it best, “trust is like an unlit match, once you burn it, it goes away forever.”

– Albany Eden

Gliding into Friends: The Pisco Sour

Whenever I start dating a man I think I could really like, two things happen. First, my mind is flooded with a series of highly inappropriate questions my brain cannot filter. Second, I order a new cocktail for the first time and secretly associate the flavor with the man. This allows me to relive moments with him long after I have scared him away with a ridiculous interrogation.

“Are you gay?” This time I endeavored to keep the question to myself.

Brandon had soft skin. He was stylish, did yoga and made a point of telling me he went to a “hair dresser” (not a barber). Yet, he seemed interested and our first date lasted five hours.

“What would you like?” he asked.
“Hmm, pisco sour, that sounds good.” True to form, Brandon would thereafter be a pisco sour to me: sweet, strong and laced with some flavors I cannot identify but that I think I like.

I was lost in his eyes as he told me about his passion for the opera. I never realized how interesting something I previously cared nothing about could become when it came from his mouth.

“And I got these new shoes from Berlutti, I’d love to break them in for the first time at the opera with you.” Just when I thought I had him figured out, he made me wonder again.

My concern was appeased with a surreptitious graze of my thigh…but wait, was this gesture due to carnal attraction or him trying to cop a feel of my Chanel tweed? I figured if he was into fashion, at the very least, we could have a good conversation. So I asked his advice on a future purchase.

“Well, my favorite color is turquoise, but if it’s something you’d be wearing, I’d love to see you in red.” I loved how he dignified all the silly things that were so important to me with a serious response from him.

Weeks later, we had another dinner filled with awkwardly honest conversation.

“In the hospital after the horseback riding accident, I completely lost bladder control because of the concussion.” I could not believe what had just come out of my mouth. This time he grazed my thigh and it was for sure deliberate.
“But you don’t have that problem anymore, right?” We both laughed. With him I needed no filter. It was nice.

The waitress came to take our orders.

“I’ll have the salmon,” Brandon said.
“Sorry, no salmon today.”
“All right, then I’ll have the salad nicoise”
“We’re out of lettuce.”

After some more back and forth, we identified one of the few items on the menu still available; we both had cheeseburgers. And I, a pisco sour.

“I was kind of nerdy as a kid, I would play video games every chance I got,” he revealed. It was endearing.
“Haha, Dungeons and Dragons, you and my brother would have gotten along!” I liked teasing him because then he would smile.
“I would like to take you to a very special wine bar I love. It’s in the Marais, you know, the gay neighborhood.” He said, matter-of-factly.
“Sure, sounds great!” I decided not to over-analyze his second sentence. We took a cab and when we arrived at the destination, Brandon briskly sent the cab away. On the wine bar door read a sign “Closed for the holidays.”

“Oh no Brandon, looks like we won’t be going here after all!”
“Don’t worry, I live just around the corner. We could have some tea at my place,” he suggested. If he did in fact live around the corner, I wondered how he didn’t notice the sign before.

Although he looked great that night and maybe had earned it, I wasn’t about to reward this kind of sly technique—if it in fact wasn’t a chance occurrence. As we parted, no hand holding, no kiss…then I wondered if he really did just want me to come over for chai tea lattes and to read his Colorology book. I put the thought out of my mind.

As time went by, we continued to see each other and I eventually did make it into Brandon’s apartment. I was pleasantly surprised. It was well decorated and neat…although he didn’t believe in curtains at all—even in the bathroom where his shower door was transparent! Weird as I might find it, this was something I decided I could address later or not at all.

“You like pisco sours right?” he asked with a devious smile. I wondered if he had figured out my rule.
“I looove them, thank you!” I was mesmerized by his muscular forearms as he squeezed the limes and I almost forgot my bursting bladder.
“Be right back, bathroom’s over there, right?” He nodded and I got ready to put on a show for his neighbors. In the sleek modern bathroom, I couldn’t help but wonder if Brandon belonged to another alpha female. The temptation to investigate was too great. I scanned the counter. One toothbrush–and it was blue. Hallelujah! No tampons. No depilatories. No hair scrunchies (although this was a little annoying because I am pathologically scrunchie-less and wanted to wash my face). I was feeling increasingly relieved as I noticed the masculine bathroom products—I could even forgive the loofah but then I saw…IT.

It was just sitting there in the drawer, the possible answer to these questions I had been asking myself about this wonderful man still single in his thirties. It was like road kill—something I couldn’t bear to see but had to look at long enough to properly identify it.

The little orange foil packet read “Gliding into friends” and on it were two male symbols artfully intertwined. As I picked it up, I realized this hot potato had to be handled with finesse; but a passionate woman often lacks this quality. Packet in hand, I left the bathroom and approached him. I figured the best way to deal with the gay lube was to toss it right on the surface where he eats breakfast. I wanted some explaining.

“Relax, I got it as a gag from a party. It’s not like I bought a full tube, it’s just a sample!” I wanted to believe him. His dancing eyes made him look capable of mischief but somehow his explanation appeased me. I think this finding with any other man would have me running for the hills but Brandon knew how to hold onto me.

He put the pisco sour up to my lips and it tasted good. I stayed over that night and learned, once and for all, that he only had eyes for women, and, more specifically, this particular one.

Sometimes we ask silly questions because deep down we already know the truth…and it scares us.

-Albany Eden

The Interview Date

One of the unexpected pitfalls of being a management student is that you tend to hang out with other management students and, sometimes, the guys you meet and date will also be from this crowd. Superficially, you might be thinking “jackpot” but, on closer inspection, having too much in common with a man can kill the romance.

albany eden interview date

It goes something like this:

Dale* and I were fixed up. He is a fellow former management student and an entrepreneur, as well as a close friend of a previous colleague of mine. For our first date, I told him we’d meet outside Prada, because if I am to date him, he might as well know where he would often be picking me up. I always estimate my walking time in terms of Ugg boots but today I was wearing heels. Since it had just rained and my head was still healing (see The Orangina Miser), I decided nothing more than a cautious gait would be advisable. I was thus almost ten minutes late. When I got to the boutique, I saw no one. For a brief moment, I was crestfallen but that quickly subsided as I contemplated having a look at the new collection (I am used to disappointment and thus easily get over it). Then I noticed a reflection in the store window. It was like Matthew Fox in the early 2000’s had left the set of Lost, changed into preppy clothes, lost ten pounds, grew a mole on his face, and came to meet me! I thought to myself, “if this is not Dale, and he does not show up, I sure hope you and I go for coffee!”

But it was him, and I felt very optimistic as we walked towards a café. Knowing little about Dale, I thought it would be interesting to ask him about his business. It was. He gladly and openly discussed his project, which, it should be no surprise to any recent grad, revolves around a mobile app. Like many “revolutionary” concepts, his was not really a new idea but offered what he was sure to be a better interface and more varied functionality than the dozens of apps already providing a similar service. I did not at first find anything strange about this conversation. We ended up talking for two and a half hours. Of course it was now 8:30pm and he did not invite me to dinner, however, like so many before him, I guess he might have been hoping for a firm invitation into my bedroom before forking out a knife and fork. Still, I wanted to see him again.

Later, he messaged me about alumni contacts. Since I’m used this behavior, it didn’t strike me odd coming from a potential suitor.

The next day, he wrote: “would you like to have a cheap lunch with me tomorrow?”

I try not to read too much into text messages because jokes are often misunderstood. I replied: “That’s an interesting choice of words!”

He came back with: “better a cheap lunch with a good guy than a good lunch with a cheap guy.” Again, I think his humor was lost in the bandwidth but I also sometimes say stupid things unintentionally, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I accepted the date.

I really wanted to get to know him better. I was hoping we could get more personal since we had already discussed every aspect of his business, and I was unemployed, so discussing my professional life should be quick.

This time, he showed up late. When he found me, we walked to the restaurant. What started as small talk (“What did you do today?” “Oh, I sent a couple CVs”) turned into the primary axis on which our conversation rotated. I do not believe I formally asked him for his advice but I got it. Honestly, he is quite clever and has the networking bit down to a science–too much so even as he greets and chitchats with every waiter, bus boy and hostess, regardless of whether that person seems completely uninterested and too busy to deal with someone like him.

As he went on about how I needed to lower my expectations in terms of salary and the types of companies that would value a native English speaker (things I have heard many times from the school’s career counselor), I allowed my mind to drift. He was so into what he was saying and also so inattentive to me that I could probably have been playing on my mobile phone without him noticing, but that’s not what happened.

I started to think about him in other ways. He was so good looking. I pictured what it might be like making love to him. He was fit and handsome enough to make the cut but then my imagination gave me a wakeup call. In bed, I thought, he is probably a talker who gets turned on by his own words. Phrases like: “Oh, I have a meeting with the VC firm,” “Oh yeah, Porters Five Forces,” “Give it to me HBR!!!” and as he climaxes, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmarket capitalization!!”

As I thought of this, I almost laughed. I decided then and there that I might be better off with someone from a different world, a different background, to whom I am a success for merely having a management degree, rather than a failure for not having found a job yet.

In the end, I gave him the business card of my friend working in VC (Venture Capital) and decided I wanted a partner in love, not business. I’m sure we’ll remain friends and help each other network but the man I will fall for will challenge me intellectually with his own original thoughts and opinions, not those imparted upon him from a cookie cutter business school.

-Albany Eden