Tag Archives: Love

Working Together to Work Together

7 Aug

Hoh. Lee. Hell.

It’s been a bitch of a two weeks.

I haven’t written, but know that I have  VERY GOOD CAUSE.  My show went into tech and then into opening (very successful, so yay), my work life got slammed, and I was battling pretty  major fatigue at every turn.

And then the bombshell:  Dusty (my boyfriend, ICYMI), would start working from home.  Immediately.

First of all:  This is very good news.  He does something similar to what I do–that is, a whole bunch of different stuff–and working from home will provide him with more flexibility.  The change in his work arrangement has other benefits, which I won’t get into because it’s none of our business.  But yay!  It’s good.

The immediate concern was, of course, space.  Dusty found out this move was taking place on Thursday, and on Saturday he moved his work computer and stuff into our house to begin on Monday.  So our first thought was where in Hades to PUT the damn stuff.  He has his downstairs rehearsal/recording studio, but there’s not enough room for all his music stuff AND his work stuff.  So that left the office.

My office.

Now, considering I’m a spoiled, introverted only child who is greedy with space and craves solitude, I was surprised at how utterly OK I was with the idea of him “moving in” to my room.  I could easily move out my “thinking couch” (yes, that’s really what I called it) and bring in a second desk.  I was HAPPY to do it.  But there was only one desk.  His desk.  I knew I had to vacate the premises immediately and return his desk to him. But then, of course, I had to get a desk of my own.

The next step was an ordeal. Since he had to be back to work Monday, we had to get our shit lined up Sunday after my matinee.  The final performance of OPENING WEEKEND, which  meant we were fresh out of tech/dress/performances and I was exhausted.  Even still, we piled into his car and drove to the local thrift store.  It took a massive effort (choosing a desk, realizing it wouldn’t fit in the car, running to Fred Meyer to buy the rando screwdriver needed to take it apart, taking it apart, driving it home in two trips, going out for ice cream (!), re-assembling it, moving my crap into the new desk, loading Dusty’s stuff into his desk), but I am now the proud owner of a beautiful roll-top desk that I adore and purchased for a steal.

And my office is now our office.

Once we finally had our office in order, Dusty took a look around and said

“We’re going to be seeing a whole lot of each other.”

Back-to-back

Back-to-back

This is a big deal.  For the first year and a half of our relationship, we led very separate lives.  Our own careers, our own friends, our own homes, our own lives.  We loved each other and spending time together, but also had our own shit going on.  That changed when we moved in together–sharing a home means sharing a life. But even with a shared home and shared life, we’re both independent as hell.  And part of that is–was–time apart during the day.

But here’s the thing.

I’m happy he’s going to be around.  Maybe I have to turn in my Independent Woman card (j/k, you can pry it from my cold dead fingers), but I’m stoked that we’ll be together all day.  I feel like I should be worried…but I’m not.  I just think it’s cool.  And it’s not like we’re really together ALL the time–he still has to go to the office for brief spurts several times per week, and I’m always flitting about.

It’s a new step, for sure.  But even to my independence-and-solitude-craving-introverted-self, it feels good to have a buddy at work.

And now I do.

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A Case for Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Guys, tomorrow is VALENTINE’S DAY!

I have grown to love Valentine’s Day.

I feel like I should apologize for that, somehow.  It’s super un-chic to love Valentine’s Day.  It’s a stupid holiday.  It’s a money-maker.  It was created by Hallmark.  You shouldn’t need a holiday to make your loved one feel special.  It’s designed to make single people feel bad or inadequate.

Those are true things. V-Day is dumb and lame and commercial and all of that.

Do not take love advice from the misguided blonde in the heart shaped bathtub!

Do not take love advice from the misguided blonde in the heart shaped bathtub!

I spent years stressing about Valentine’s Day.  If I had a boyfriend–would he do something Valentines-y?  Should I feel bad if he didn’t?  Did I want to have a big date night, or was I doing it because I felt like I had to?  Why did friends and family insist on asking what various boyfriends had done for me–and was our relationship being judged if our Valentine’s Day plans were unremarkable, or nonexistent?

If I was single–well, it sucks being single on Valentine’s Day.  Even when I was totally fine with being single on Valentine’s Day, I always had the feeling that people were looking at me, feeling sorry for me.  And the years where I was single and didn’t want to be….yeah, that’s terrible.

But now…I don’t know, I’m kind of into it.  Despite the ENORMOUS PRESSURE the holiday carries, I still have fond memories when I remember V-Days of yesteryear.  My college boyfriend surprising me with a candlelit room and serving me waffles with ice cream.  A singles date with a girlfriend where we gorged on doughnuts and went to see a werewolf movie in fancy dresses.  Last year, when surprise flowers (my boyfriend is NOT a flowers guy) brightened my otherwise wretched stomach-flu plagued V-Day.  I have some really nice memories.

And really, what’s so wrong with a day that celebrates romantic love in all its sappy, kissy, pink-and-red, flowerly glory?  Love makes idiots of us all, so maybe it’s fitting to celebrate love in a way that is somewhat idiotic.  AND IT’S FUN!  Anniversaries or other special dates are for real celebrations with your partner.  V-Day can be silly.

But listen, if you hate Valentine’s Day, I’m not going to try to change your mind.  Hating Valentine’s Day can be just as much fun as loving it.  So please, wear black all day.  Watch zombie movies.  Wrap on a widow’s veil and send yourself black roses at work.  BECAUSE WHY NOT?

So let yourself have a nice Valentine’s Day this year.  Maybe it’s a fancy dinner and a show with your loved one.  Maybe it’s a casual and cheap date (I think we’re gonna hit up Shari’s for milkshakes).  Maybe it’s a girls night, a trip to a fancy restaurant it gloomy black to mock the lovey couples, or an evening spent at the gym.  Hell, maybe it’s a night on your own with Pride and Prejudice, reminding yourself that love is out there.  There’s a fun holiday under all that pressure–do what you gotta do to find it for yourself.

Oh, unless you’re in a new or undefined romantic relationship.  Then you’re pretty much guaranteed to stress and have no fun. Sorry.

Kisses!

 

We Are All The Wretched: My take on Les Miserables.

26 Dec

The  novel Les  Miserables (loosely translated as “the wretched”) was written in the 1860s by Victor Hugo.  It was subsequently a musical, a film, and now a film version of the musical.

SUPER SPOILER ALERT:  This post contains SPOILERS!  Do not read unless you have seen the new Les Miserables movie!  Even if you’ve seen the musical and read the 1400 page book (nerd), this post contains MOVIE SPECIFIC SPOILERS!  So….read at your own risk.

I saw Les Miserables last night.  And after months–nay, years–of anticipation, my final verdict is—-

We’ll get to that.

First, some background.  I love Les Miserables. I’ve seen it live seven times.   I own four separate recordings including the 1988 symphonic recording which contains the entire score (according to Wikipedia, the symphonic recording and the Czech Revival recording are the only recordings that feature the entire score) and the original 1980 French-language concept album.  I’ve seen the 10th and 25th Anniversary Concerts about 500 times.  At the tender age of 15, I READ THE ENTIRE 1400 PAGE NOVEL (nerd).   I would pass long drives in the car by playing the entire show IN  MY HEAD, because I knew it so well that I could PLAY IT BACK ON DEMAND.  And, like many other girls born between 1978 and 1987, in my imagination I was Eponine wandering the streets of Paris singing forlornly of my unrequited  love for whichever 8th grade idiot I was into that week who couldn’t see past the popular girls who were way prettier (in a totally cliche way) but knowing one day he’d see me for the gem I was, even if I had to die in his arms after being shot in the 1832 June Rebellion.  Which was not, and should never be mistaken for, the French Revolution.  That was earlier.

I have lots of Les Mis cred is what I’m saying.

So.  Did the movie live up to my insane expectations?  With the exception of Anne Hathaway (more on that in a bit), no.  How could it have?  Les Mis is too much a part of the fabric of my very being for any one production or film to ever live up to my expectations. But is it worth seeing?  Absolutely.

So.  Performances.  Really there was only one performance, and that was Anne as Fantine.  She was exquisite.  The role isn’t as meaty as others she’s played (see especially Rachel Getting Married), and she spends a lot of her screen time crying.  But Anne found subtleties in her despair and rage that I’ve never seen an actress find in that role.  Would her performance as-is stand up on stage?  Of course not–because she’s skilled enough to play to the venue at hand.  And I trust that were she ever to play the role on stage she would play it differently.  But she played Fantine fully, with all her fragility, despair and desperation.  And she sounded beautiful.  She didn’t sing to the rafters. She didn’t have to.

And I, as Anne Hathaway’s biggest fan and future best friend would like to take this opportunity to give a big IN YOUR FACE to all the people who ever dissed on her.  Anne, give me a shout-out in your Oscar speech.  I stood by  you through Princess Diaries II and Bride Wars because I KNEW you had this in you.  And an extra double IN YOUR FACE to Matt Lauer for being such a creeper.

I heart Anne.

BFFs

BFFs

Anyway.

Hugh Jackman as Valjean?  Respectable.  Even moving, at times.  But he lacked the gravitas of  Colm Wilkinson or the killer voice Alfie Boe.  And I did feel that his limitations as a singer kept him from expressing the full breadth of Valjean’s experience–much of the character’s emotional life lives in the music, after all.  But he was open and vulnerable and carried the film.  I wish I could say the same for Russell Crowe as Javert.  Friends, I don’t like to take a dig at artists.  I know the guts and vulnerability it takes to give a performance.  But he was just awful.  He doesn’t have the type of voice the role requires and was clearly out of his depth.  There’s no denying the man is a fantastic actor.  But where was it in his Javert?  He didn’t seem to have any sort of take on the  character, didn’t seem to have a point of view.  Maybe he was worried about the singing?  I don’t know.  But it was a disappointing performance from an actor of his calibre.

I was pleasingly surprised with Eddie Redmayne as Marius.  I always though the character was sort of a pansy (and TOTALLY undeserving of Eponine, who should take a second look at Enjolras anyway because DAY-UM).  But Eddie Redmayne made me take another look at the character and I found his performance sympathetic and engaging.  His voice sounded lovely and dexterous and I dug him. Same with Amanda Seyfried as Cosette.  There’s not a lot for Cosette to do, but Amanda Seyfriend did a great job with limiting material.  And they’re both super pretty with big pillowy lips.

I enjoyed Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers, but they sort of felt like they were living in a different universe from everyone else.  Considering the dark tone of the film it might have been more effective if they had gone for humor that was menacing and dark rather than slick and playful.  Still, I thought they were enjoyable and fun and they seemed to be GENUINELY IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER, which I thought was a great layer  not usually seen with the characters.

I was really into the revolutionary students.  Aaron Tvedt as Enjolras, Fra Fee as Courfeyrac and, especially, Daniel Huddlestone as Gavroche were great. But  Samantha Barks as Eponine?  I just couldn’t get behind her and I can’t figure out why.  She has a solid voice (she played the role in London).  She was sweet and sparkling onscreen (which was part of the problem–she looked really healthy for a street urchin).  There is no one thing that was wrong with anything she did.  She just didn’t grab me.  I can’t explain it.  Eponine was my GIRL in junior high and high school, so it could be that I’m just too hard to please here.  I never pretended to be unbiased!

But my absolute favorite touch of all was the casting of Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, as the Bishop.  His performance was simple and understated and beautiful.  Plus, it was a nice shout-out to all the lifelong fans who would catch it.  The Bishop’s act of kindness to the bitter and cynical Valjean is really the crux of the entire story, so it was very circle of life-ish to have the original Valjean become the Bishop in this incarnation.  And the end, when the Bishop was waiting for Valjean as he died?  That was the moment that got me.  Real tears, kids.  Real tears.

But the film is more than the sum of its performances.  It was sweeping and grand and horrific and all too relatable in 2012.  The film moved me and, more importantly, inspired me.  I saw parallels to our current world that I didn’t see when I was crying through On My Own in 1995.  Seeing the immense poverty and the state of unrest existing between the haves and have-nots mde me think of our own society, and how maybe we should employ a little of the compassion Les Miserables celebrates in the discussion around so-called entitlement programs.  It’s impossible to watch the death of Gavroche without thinking of Sandy Hook.  And seeing the needless deaths of the revolutionaries affects me differently at 30 than it did at 15.  Just as I know the death and final redemption of Jean Valjean will affect me more at 60 or 70 than I can even imagine now.

So spend a few hours in the dark with Les Miserables.  Because it’s a story about all of us.  We could know a Fantine–a good person who falls between the cracks, whose genius is lost to us in the face of crippling poverty. We were all once angsty Eponines, and are hopefully finding our ways to domestic bliss like boring old Marius and Cosette.  We might be called upon to pull a Thenardier, and start shaping the world to suit our  needs when it looks like everything is against us.  We might all be Bishops, who with  single act of trust and kindness could give hope to someone the rest of the world gives up on. We should all remember that most of the time our antagonists are Javerts–really, really good people who just don’t see the world the same way we do.  It’s a story of wisdom, of heartbreak and hope.  Les Miserables loosely translates to “the wretched.”  But what the book, and the musical, and the movie shows us is that we are all the wretched. And that none of us are.

And as a parting gift, I bring you the man himself.

Colm Wilkinson Bring Him Home

Sarahphina’s Guide to Dating Part II: The Soulmate Edition (JUST KIDDING)

5 Dec

Love Doctor

Remember when I gave you all that awesome dating advice?  That was fun.  Lately I’ve been tickled with the urge to get back on that noise.  The reason is this: I am sick to fucking death of magazine articles giving ladies advice on how to “find their soulmate” or “land a man” or “get that ring” as if meeting a loving a supportive partner is some kind of endgame.  As if you should adopt a series of behaviors that hide who you are or change who you are because God knows that you are totally unloveable just, you know, as you are.  Each one of these articles seems to be screaming FOR GOD’S SAKE LADIES, IF ONLY THERE WASN’T SO MUCH THAT WAS WRONG WITH YOU YOU WOULD BE IN TOTAL WEDDED BLISS RIGHT NOW! AND THEN YOU WOULD HAVE NO MORE PROBLEMS EVER AGAIN! IT’S PROBABLY BECAUSE YOU’RE FAT, UGLY AND BORING!  NO ONE WANTS THE REAL YOU, SO HIDE HIDE HIDE HIDE HIDE!

Ugh.  There is so much bullshit crammed up in here that I can’t even begin to unpack it.  But to make a long story short– you are deserving of love just as you are, there are people who love you now and will love you in the future, your life does not get perfect when you find a partner, everyone has the right to determine what romantic love means to them and if it’s something they want for themselves, all love between enthusiastically consenting adults is great, you don’t have to be partnered to be worthy, valuable or loved.

Also, “soulmates” aren’t real.

Gasp.  Oh God.  I just went there.  But I believe deep in my heart of hearts that the idea of a soulmate, while lovely, just isn’t real.  And isn’t that a relief?  Because what if soulmates WERE real and mine was living somewhere on the other side of the world and I never met him?  What a bummer that would be!  No, friends.  I do not believe in “The One.”  It’s much more logical and optimistic in my mind to believe in “The Several.”  It’s less, like, epic, but more forgiving.  And once we let go of the idea that one person will be the end-all-be-all of our life and happiness, we can chill the fuck out about it.  I think that we as a culture put waaaaaay too much stock on romantic love.  Your romantic partner does not have to fulfill every single one of your needs.  That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone.  Do them–and you–a favor and take the weight of “soulmate” off their shoulders.

Fun fact.  When I was growing up, all I wanted in the entire universe was to find my soulmate.  I knew that one day he would just appear and sparks would fly and we would just know in that instant and we would be happy forever and never fight and be bound up in the cosmos for all eternity, Wuthering Heights style.  In junior high I would gaze longingly at the door and daydream that one day a handsome and mysterious new kid would arrive at school and he’d be different and special and he’d see the glory that was me shining through and ignore all the popular girls and fall in love with me instead.  If I’d written this shit down I could have had Stephenie Meyer’s millions.

ALL THAT SAID, it is not up to me to define what love means to you.  If you believe in soulmates and The One and that gives you purpose and meaning and fulfillment and joy, then go for it.  Truly.  Love is not a one-size-fits all type of deal.  My way of loving might not work for you.  That’s ok.  It’s great.

But no matter what definition of love you choose to live by, there is no tried-and-true way to find it.  And if there was, it certainly wouldn’t be the “just get out there and be yourself, only hide thisandthis (God forbid he ever sees you without your makeup!), do thisthatandtheother (don’t get fat ever!) and remember to suchandsuch (smile and be upbeat and don’t be too opinionated!)” type of advice constantly hammering us.  It’s not about tricking or trapping or conning someone into loving you.  Even if that worked (it doesn’t), long-term that type of shit just doesn’t hold up.  EVENTUALLY he or she is going to see the real you.

You just can’t FORMULA your way to finding love.  The best you can do is increase your odds.  You know, like math and stuff (I’m just babbling–you should know by now that I don’t actually know math).

In this spirit, I’ve crafted my own how-to list when it comes to finding The Possible One.  No tricks or headgames.  No “strategy.” Just some advice on how to put yourself in a position where you could meet someone awesome, if you’re looking to meet someone awesome.  As with all dating advice you’ll find here, these tips come to you directly from the accredited Academy of Sarahphina’s Lived Experience.

1.  Be yourself.  No, really.  It’s really, really easy to be on a date with someone you’re into and start transforming yourself into what you think they want.  I’m a Dating Chameleon, so I totally get it.  Fight against this.  Do not change who you are to fit into the mold of what someone else wants you to be.  It’s manipulative, and you are doing no one a favor by doing it.  Forget the headgames as best you can. Ask them things you want to know.  Tell them things you want them to know.  Accept that they might not like you and that’s ok–it just means you should try hanging out with someone else.  Now, don’t throw your manners out the window or be a giant dick or anything.  But remind yourself that the point of hanging out with or going on dates with people is to get to know each other.  To see if you are compatible.  If you’re constantly in “I must impress” mode, you are neither focusing on getting to know them nor allowing them to get to know you.  It’s not about “winning” or “losing” the approval of anyone.  It’s about both parties trying the other one on and seeing how they fit (metaphorically of course, not in a psycho skin-suit way).

2.  Put yourself out there.  Ugh!  I know!  Most cliche thing ever!  But friends,this is where you have to consider the odds.  Odds are, you are not going to meet the person of your dreams by sitting at home watching Scrubs re-runs.  Math says so.  If you’re interested on maybe meeting someone and starting a relationship, you gotta kind of go for it.  I know.  It sucks.  And while there ARE plenty of fish in the sea, you actually have to go fishing in order to wind up with the sweet fish fillet sandwich of love.  And you’re not putting yourself in a position to meet someone awesome when the only person you see besides your co-workers is the high school stoner who brings you your Dominos thin-crust cheese pizza with pineapple (my favorite, beeteedubs).  So let friends set you up.  Date online.  Ask out your cute bank teller (I’m thinking about you, Ivan from New York!  I’m sorry I was such a coward in 2005!).  You can always switch banks if they say no.    But really.  Be brave and take a risk.  (Note:  Taking a risk does not mean being risky!  Stay safe, kids.)

3.  Don’t change for them, but be willing to be changed by them.  Being independent doesn’t mean you exist in a vacuum.  When you’re seeing someone awesome, allow them to have an influence on you.  Now, don’t fake an interest in football or cars or fruitbats just because they are interested in those things.  But if they start talking about football or cars or fruitbats and their enthusiasm is infectious and it starts to get YOU excited about football or cars or fruitbats, it’s ok to go with that.  Learn about it.  Not to impress them but to see if it interests you.  When I first started dating my now-boyfriend, we started talking politics.  I’m a pretty well-informed chick, but he’s REALLY into it.  I had fun talking about it and was interested in what he was saying, so I spent some time reading up and doing some research on my own.  Not so that he would think I was cool but so I could participate more fully in the conversation next time.  And it turns out, I’m really into politics–even more than I initially thought.  I think that makes me a better person, and it’s a side of myself I would not have explored fully without his influence.

4.  Have your own interests, and let them have theirs.  That said, you don’t have to like all of the same things.  It’s cool to have interests that don’t depend on or involve the other.  That’s what friends are for and stuff.

5.  Be Practical.  Love is one thing.  A relationship, especially a long-term one, is another.  You should probably love the person you are in a relationship with.  But for many of us, love is not enough.  Do you have similar goals?  Do you have goals that could co-exist?  Do you agree on marriage, children, values?  Are you compatible in bed?  Can you live together? Do you have similar views on monogamy?  I’m not going to tell you what to do with this information, because that is up to you.  But everyone has a bottom line.  Know yours.

6.  Don’t be practical.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.  Trust yourself.

7.  Try.  I know.  It’s the worst.  It’s really hard to try at stuff, because you might fail or be disappointed or embarrassed.  And those things don’t feel good.  Now, I’m not suggesting you try to make yourself have feelings where you don’t or try to have enthusiasm where there isn’t any.  Just don’t approach a date or hanging-out situation with a potential suitor like you’re being tortured.  Try to have a good time.  Try to enjoy the hour you spend with them.  Try to see the whole wacky experience as fun and illuminating rather than horrific and terrible.  No matter the outcome, it’s a chance to have a conversation with someone you might not have met otherwise.  Know that you don’t ever have to see them again if you don’t want to.  But, you know, try to pull something from the encounter, even if it’s not an experience you care to repeat.

Love is a tricky bitch.  There are no guarantees.  All you can do is is put yourself out there, follow your heart and your gut, be open and honest and see what happens.  And even when love is found, the game doesn’t end there (more on that at a later date).  We’re all just bouncing around this crazy planet bumping into each other and trying to figure shit out.

Happy hunting, loves.

 

Sarahphina solves ALL the dating problems. You’re welcome.

17 Oct

Before we begin, a note to my Mom and anyone else who might have known me when I was a child:  Hey guys!  I’m so glad you read this!  Here’s the thing, though.  I’m going to talk about SEX in this post.  Also, there will probably be some of that BAD LANGUAGE that Mom hates so much.  So if that weirds you out at all, you’re welcome to skip this one and come back next time.  Thanks!

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I would like to offer you some completely unsolicited dating advice.  Here are my rules (guidelines?) to meeting, hooking up, falling in love, and ending it gracefully.

I hate myself right now.

Before we begin, you may be eager to hear my qualifications.  What makes moi an expert in the field of dating, sex, and interpersonal love-type relations?  I’m glad you asked! I’m happy to report that I have exactly zero qualifications and no good reason to be handing out dating advice like penny candy except that it sounds like fun.  HOWEVER, since we are all nitwits when it comes to LOVE, I figured my nitwit opinion is just as good as anyone else’s nitwit opinion.  My tips come from years of hardcore field research (research from the “field” that one “plays” when one is “playing the field”) and epic, epic failure on the part of me and my numerous (well, not THAT numerous) romantic partners.

This is the face of a girl who knows a lot about love.

So everyone put on lipstick and your prettiest underwear and let’s go on some dates and break some hearts!

Rule #1:  Call it what it is

It’s oh-so hip among us Millennials to “not want to put a label on it.”  Friends, this is bullshit.  I believe whole-heartedly in calling a spade a spade.  They “hey, so what is this” conversation is the most awkward conversation ever, but it’s tremendously important.  In order to keep everyone’s expectations lined up and the communication channels open and ready for business, you gotta decide if you’re on a relationship track or just having fun.  This conversation doesn’t have to happen right away, but eventually it’s gotta happen.

And since we’re on the subject of calling spades spades, let’s take a minute to talk about different kinds of spades–when the spade is a relationship.

Fuck buddies:  Friends who bone sometimes.  These arrangements definitely have their perks but usually work best if they are infrequent and/or short-lived.  It’s VERY IMPORTANT that both parties know that this is an F-buddy arrangement and not a one-way ticket to soulmate-dom.

Dating:  This means that you go on dates.  This also means you do (or can) go on dates with other people.  And so can they.  No pressure, no promises.  Just trying shit out.

Seeing Someone:  This means that you have a particular person in your life who you spend time with, but you have not yet entered into an exclusive relationship.  You are free to date others while in this phase, but you must be HONEST with all parties involved that you are doing so.  In my experience, it is during this phase that the casual-date duds start to drop away like dead little flies revealing the one who will become—

Boyfriend/Girlfriend (or Boyfriend/Boyfriend, Girlfriend/Girlfriend, Primary partners, whatever titles you prefer to use):  No relationship should be assumed to be exclusive until the parties involved have a sit-down and SAY that the relationship is now exclusive.  Congratulations!  You now have a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/exclusive lover/primary partner/cohort!  No more making out with sexy bartenders or old high school crushes (unless you’re poly–see below)!   In my humble opinion, a relationship should only go exclusive once there is a level of seriousness to it.  The notion of a “casual boyfriend” sort of baffles me.  You don’t have to know for sure and for certain that this person is your one-and-only, but it’s good if you think there’s a chance they might be. You could be wrong–that’s what the relationships is for, to try it out!  But if the relationship has an expiration date before it’s begun, probably best to leave it alone.  Park it in the “dating” phase so you can keep looking for new potential life-mates.

Now, not everyone is monogamous and I have not forgotten my polyamorous pals.  I went looking for a link to find some truly awesome poly love advice.  What I found was an awesome blog post on poly relationships that seemed to me to also be great advice for any love-type relationship.  So I hope both my poly friends and fellow monogamies (like that?) check this out.

Ok.  So.  When you’re ready to be exclusive with someone, have that talk.  It’s very scary.  They might not feel the same way.  That sucks.  But it’s much, much better get served a hot plate of rejection straight-up than to waste your time in muddled confusion land.

Slap a label on that relationship.  It feels good.

Bam.

Rule #2 Be honest about who is sexing who

Guys, it’s 2012.  No one should be playing Russian Roulette with their sexual health in this day and age.  People have different comfort zones in terms of their sexual choices.  Some people are cool with boning around.  Some people take an “I only sleep with one person at a time” deal.  Some people don’t like to get physical at all until the relationship has entered a serious exclusive phase.  All of these choices are totally valid.  Just make sure you are honest about your needs and behavior.  Maybe you feel like a “rebel” for keeping a sexing dish on the side while knowing your primary person thinks s/he is your sexing-one-and-only.  This does NOT make you a rebel, it just makes you a dick.  It’s ok to want to sex with multiple people.  It’s not ok to lie about it. Keep it all above-ground, kids!  And use condoms!  Make good choices!

Rule #3 Get your dates the right way

Now, I like DATES.  DATES are not the only way to begin DATING, however.  Some people like the friendship-and-hanging-out-slowly-morphs-into-something-more tack.  I am not one of these people.  I like to be asked out on DATES.  I like to be taken to restaurants, or shows, or museums or what-the-fuck ever, but I like to know that what is happening is a DATING SITUATION.  I hate the “is this or isn’t this a date thing?” and I will always assume it was NOT a date unless I hear otherwise.  And then I’ll be super weirded out if you try and kiss me.  A definitive “I’d love to take you to dinner on Saturday” is way better than a “we should hang out some time.”

Perfectly respectable way to ask for a date.

Rule #4 Don’t be picky about who you date

Go out with people who you aren’t sure about.  You limit yourself SO MUCH when you don’t ever break out of your preconceived-notion-box of who will make a good partner for you.  A date, especially a first date, is a trial.  You don’t ever have to see them again.  But you might be missing out on a killer person by narrowing your field too much right off the bat.  That said, if you get a bad feeling about someone, listen to it.  You do not owe anyone a date.  If you feel like they might be violent/possessive/scary/stalkery/criminally boring, then listen to your instincts and politely decline.

And while I advise not being too picky in who you date, I think you should be quite picky about who you make your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner.  Cause that’s a whole other thing, remember?

Rule #5 Don’t have sex on the first date

Not to be Polly Puritan here, but I generally think it’s a bad idea to jump into bed with someone on a first date.  Not because I think sex is “sinful” or I worry about being a “slut,” but because I think sex can confuse things.  Of course you’re going to be into someone when they’ve just rocked you in your bathing-suit areas–but what if they suck as a person?  What if you can’t tell how much they suck as a person because you’re all woozy and delirious from the awesome sexing?  Let the first few dates be about conversation (and maybe kissing!) before you start throwing hormones around all willy-nilly-like.

Rule #6 Break Rule #5 sometimes

Because, you know….

Rule #7 End the relationship in a manner appropriate to your relationship level.  And don’t be a dick about it.

No one sucks at breaking up more than I do.  I have to write myself a script before I break up with someone, I’m THAT TERRIBLE at it.  So I invented a little guideline to help me know the RIGHT WAY to break up with a gentlemen with whom I no longer want to spend romance-time.

F-buddy.  You guys should be friendly, so talk like friends.  Say straight up that you met someone/want to meet someone/just aren’t feeling it anymore.  Have a laugh and a drink and talk about the good times, then move the eff on.

1-3 Dates.  I get some flack for this sometimes, but if you’ve only been on a few dates I don’t think you owe them anything whatsoever.  I think it’s ok to simply not return their phone calls and expect them to get the hint.  The first few dates are all about testing the water.  I think it’s ok to bow out gracefully and spare yourself (and them) the awkward convo.  However, if you had sex or were friends before going on said dates, you must have an actual conversation with them.  Sorry.  That’s how she goes.

Dating but not exclusive.  If you decide you’re over it, you can give a “you’re great, but I’m not really feeling it” thing.  I personally do not think you owe them any sort of explanation or drawn-out conversation unless they ask for it.  And they shouldn’t ask for it.

But sometimes they do ask for it.  And if they ask for a talk, you should have the talk with them.  Be as nice as possible.  The worst EVER is when they start asking what they “did wrong.”  Use all the verbal dodging skills in your arsenal to avoid answering this question!  This is a horrible question and answering it will only lead to misery for all involved!  And if they are better verbal fencers than you and won’t take any of your clever question-dodging,  you must LIE YOU PANTS OFF!  Normally I’m Honest Honoria, but NO ONE wants to hear “well, you’re a bad kisser” or “I think you’re immature/plain/boring.”  It will only make them feel bad needlessly–because somewhere out there is someone who loves the way they kiss and thinks they’re adorable/elegant/special.  No need to make someone feel bad or self-conscious about something when the real issue at hand is that they aren’t right for you.  Just say you didn’t feel a spark.  Then set them free to find their turtle dove and you go off in search of yours.

Exclusively dating.  When you’re in a committed, exclusive relationship with someone a break-up becomes a conversation rather than a statement.  No blaming (unless, you know, they suck), no excuses, just an honest discussion of where you are both headed and why it’s maybe not a good idea to take that road together.

Except it rarely goes that smoothly.  Still, a girl can dream.

Alright lovebirds, this concludes Saraphina’s Love and Dating Rules/Guidelines.

Labeling stuff really is fun. Also, I should probably have worn makeup today.

But one final word.

Love is a tricky game.  And like all tricky games, the rules are ever morphing and changing.   All the schtick about labels and date etiquette and sexing and breaking up–those are all just my best guesses on how to navigate the tricky waters of love and feelings.  Do I follow all these rules all the time?  Hell no! We’re all just doing our best out here.

The only real rule is to love and respect your partners and yourself.  Do right by them, even when they aren’t Mr/Miss Right.

That’s all I got.  But I can’t just leave you high and dry, so check this out.