Let’s Talk About Low Grade Sexism

Sexism is a major topic nowadays. I talk about it here in big and small ways all the time. You see stories in the news about people coming forward and accusing major public figures and celebrities of harassment and assault. And the good news is that it is slowly starting to work. Boys will be boys is becoming an unacceptable standard, when people speak up others are starting to listen.

But what about the smaller moments? The moments that aren’t really worthy of going to HR about, but are definitely still a part of the problem. Moments that are the pre-requisites for the big moments later on. Maybe your uncle isn’t a full blown misogynist, but his views are definitely sexist. Maybe your boss isn’t harassing you, but his behavior is still problematic. These little comments or actions that don’t seem worth calling out in the moment, but are definitely reinforcing a world where women are devalued. They aren’t crimes, they aren’t harassment, they might not even be aggressive. But they still are not right.

Here are some examples of low grade sexism in our daily lives.

Low Grade Sexism at Work
Again, I am not talking about the big HR stuff. I’m not talking about inappropriate comments or touching or power plays. I’m talking about those small socialized moments that aren’t quite worth talking to HR about, but are definitely creating sexism in the work place.

Delegation – studies have shown that women are the most likely to do non-promotion worthy work in the office. Take notes during meetings, supply runs, small office tidying. And it perpetuates this idea that women are homemakers and caregivers first, that they should be the ones taking care of an environment and the people in it. But men of similar levels are not expected or even asked to make the coffee for the meeting or run to staples for office supplies. There are tasks that are seen as “women’s work” and there is an unspoken expectation that women will just take care of those things but men should never be expected to let alone asked.

Nicknames – the fact that anyone would dare call a women sweetheart in a professional setting any more still baffles me, and yet I have experienced it both on the superior side of things and the client side of things. Endearing pet names for women you work with is anything but.

Working Moms – women still get promoted less, women still get paid less, and having children is still a negative impact to a lot of professional women. A lot of women are forced to choose between being a mom and being a successful career woman still. But men still do not have to make this choice. No one hesitates to hire a man with children, but it is assumed a woman with children will not work as hard and require more time off.

Low Grade Sexism at Home
I think even the most well intending feminist of men will fall into this trap. Even through the progress of women in the work place over the last century, the home front has probably seen the least amount of change.

Chores – again, a lot of cleaning and care work for an environment is seen as women’s work. Cooking, cleaning, planning most often falls to the woman. It is often an unspoken assumption that women will just manage the home. I am baffled by how many couples I know where the man never cooks and doesn’t even know how, and therefore the woman is cooking and prepping meals for the entire family all week long. I’ve talked a lot about emotional labor before, and most emotional labor falls to the woman.

Parenting – I do think this is getting better, but still slowly. The idea that dads babysit their children when left alone with them.

Low Grade Sexism in Our Views of Women
And of course, our day to day views and perceptions of women. Comments, expectations, views. All of these socialized and unconscious thoughts that are really just meant to put women down and keep men on top.

She’s too pretty to be smart – this idea that the greatest currency a woman has to offer is beauty, and therefore it must be the only thing she should really want. That if a woman is beautiful she has no need for ambition or aspirations, and if a woman is not beautiful then she better have something else to offer.

You only got that because you are pretty – the other side of the coin. Resenting accomplishments of women and belittling their achievements.

Sluts – the endless double standard. An independent woman who is confident in her sexuality must be shamed. But the judgment of a sexual woman is more about the fear of her rejection.

Low grade sexism is definitely part of the problem. It perpetuates socialized ideas that women are here for the benefit and service of men and when they challenge that role and expectation they must be shamed or belittled or bullied. Low grade sexism in our daily lives leads to major sexism being socially acceptable later on.

Darci

Letting Go of Being Perfect

Perfectionism is a dangerous pitfall. To some extent, I really do believe everybody struggles with living up to their own high expectations. For some, that leads to over working ourselves. For others, it leads to procrastination and underachievement. But I really do believe we all suffer from the disparity of our expectations for ourselves. Have this job title, earn this salary, cook these meals, keep things constantly clean, have successful hobbies, raise my kids right.

A good friend of mine is very crafty. She is always carrying around some project she is working on. This past weekend she was doing just that, and she knew it was just not quite right. She had messed up a stitch or two, that to her were painfully obvious. But instead of obsessing about it, instead of pulling it apart and redoing it, instead of throwing the whole thing away, she chose to be alright with it not being perfect. In fact, she plans on hanging it in her home for everyone to see. She told me this was her exercise in being ok with not being perfect. Because in the past she knows she would have been very frustrated and probably considered the whole thing a waste. But when she accepted that it would not be perfect, she realized that she actually still really liked it; and more importantly that she was the only one who could see this tiny mistake.

And to be completely honest, I don’t think I’m there yet. I have given up many crafty hobbies because I was not good enough fast enough. I still obsessively clean my home daily and that’s a whole other blog series in and of itself. I don’t go after things I want because I know others are better than I am.

I’ve been thinking about how perfectionism is holding me back. Not necessarily from a job title or a salary, but from happiness. After all, none of us actually art perfect, so at best we are just creating a good illusion of perfectionism. And most of the things we feel we are failing at is really just perceived imperfections. What if I could learn to be a little easier on myself? What if I could let go of my need for perfection and just learn to live my life the best I can? And what if I could even be happy with that?

Here are some things I am working on to help me let go of my need for perfectionism:

Be Kind to Yourself
It may start to feel like my blog has a theme this year outside of angry feminist. 2019 is my year of Self Love, and all the ways that shakes out. So of course the first step in learning to be ok with not being perfect, is to be kind to yourself. Change the dialogue. Instead of getting dragged down by your list of ways you don’t stack up, make a list of affirmation and things you like about yourself. Focus on your personality qualities that you like about yourself, rewarding relationships in your life, meaningful experiences.

It’s Not All or Nothing
When you feel the need to beat yourself up for your perceived imperfections, remember that life is not an all or nothing deal.  You don’t need to be the best at everything to be loved and respected. You are good enough as is. Full stop.

Be Less Critical of Others
A bad habit we are all guilty of is comparing ourselves to others. Sometimes we do this and it leads to us feeling inadequate, and sometimes we do this as a way to inflate our ego. Either way it’s not doing you any good. Focus on being patient, kind, and compassionate with others.

Surround Yourself with Good People
Have you heard that you are most like the five people you spend the most time with? Who you spend your time with has significant impact on your personality and your perspective. So surround yourself with people who have qualities you want in yourself. People who are smart, people who are generous, people who are gracious, people who can help you grow.

 

The reality is that no one is or ever will be perfect. But maybe we can work to be a little happier instead.

 

-Darci

Burning Out

We all have bad days, even bad weeks. But at what point does it cross over from a bad day to a full on burnout in life? At what point do you accept that this fatigue and apathy is long term and needs to be addressed?

Burnout is not simply a result of long hours or being over worked. It stems from a lack of control in life. Maybe the place that you work is being mismanaged and you are helpless to change it. Maybe you feel your work has no meaning. Maybe you don’t have a hobby or project that brings you joy outside of your work. Maybe you are so focused on helping others that you have no time or energy left for yourself.

I’ve come to realize that I need to be much more focused on myself. I need to prioritize not just taking care of myself but nourishing myself. I need to not only find my boundaries but stick to them. And I need to be more intentional of listening to my instincts. By getting stuck in my routine and focused on the go go go part of life, I wound up incredibly depressed and burnt out.

By the time I realized how burnt out I was, I didn’t just need a break I needed a full life shake up. I was in a job that was demanding and unfulfilling, working for people that are cold and incompetent. I was far more concerned with others needs than I was with my own. And all my free time was spent focused on others. I wasn’t sleeping, my skin was a mess, and the very concept of leaving my house became so overwhelming my whole body would feel like wet sandbags.

I didn’t need a break or a vacation, I needed a complete re-evaluation.

But the real kicker is that there were warning signs that I ignored. Red flag decisions at work that the ship was sinking. Demanding patterns from friendships that I know how to recognize but ignored. Small breakouts in my skin that I know how to deal with but didn’t make the time for.

I was just so stuck in my routine and my think positive attitude that my whole life had to be up in flames before I realized I needed to do something about it.

2019 is my year to focus on me. By the end of last year I was so low, so depressed, so burnt out, I knew I had to finally address it. It hasn’t happened over night but I have already come a long way.

I found a new job. Unfortunately not all work situations can be improved. Sometimes you just have to move on. I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about what I need from my job. And more importantly, I know what I am not looking for anymore. I found the next chapter and am taking all the lessons learned and putting them to good use.

I’m learning to say No. Perhaps my biggest hurdle. I don’t like saying No. I think a part of me has a fundamental belief that a person shouldn’t say No. But I am working on it.

I am working on boundaries. Both personally and professionally. Work-life balance, investing in friendships that are fulfilling and reciprocal and letting one sided friendships go, and listening to my inner voice. She often knows what’s up.

Change is hard. Growing is painful. Depression sucks. And burn out is awful. But all of these things are necessary. All of these things have a light at the end of the tunnel. And all of these things lead to better things. If you let them.

Darci

Sometimes You Have to Fail

You’ve heard it a thousand times: failure is a part of life. It’s a theoretical we all know. There are thousands of movies romanticizing the journey of failure. But when it actually happens to you it sucks. Sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sure you are going to grow and find something better and feel like this all happened for a reason and that timing is everything, sure it’s not the end of everything it’s just a bump in the road. But it sucks.

Without failure we couldn’t become the person we need to become. But becoming is painful. It’s not glamorous. There aren’t actually make overs or meet cutes with Chris Evans or constant hangouts at bars with your friends, and there are actually budgets and bills and stress acne. The world keeps spinning and life moves on even though your world is falling apart.

But despite the pain, despite the grief, despite the anger, despite the struggle, failure really is an ok thing. It’s an important part of life. And yes, it really does make you better in the end.

So. What good comes from failure? Here are some reasons why failure is actually ok.

We All Fail

It happens to everyone. People lose out on jobs they wanted, get dumped, don’t get that promotion, get fired, lose that race, and more every day. Failure is embarrassing but it’s the most relatable thing. It’s hard to see in the moment, but we all fail at something in life. Everyone has experienced failure, you are not alone.

Failure is a Good Time for Self Reflection

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s about self discovery and finding the meaning in your life. Failing sheds light on the places you can grow. By allowing failure to dig deep into your character, you come through with a better understanding of who you are and where you want to go.

Failure Makes You Stronger

Without failure, there is no progress. There are countless famous success stories of how failure lead to the ultimate success. JK Rowling, Oprah, Bill Gates, and Walt Disney to name a few. And sure, we probably won’t all become successful billionaires because of our failures. But we can learn a similar lesson: failure can be emboldening. It teaches you how to keep going and fight for what really matters to you.

Failure Leads to New Things

New jobs, new relationships, new hobbies. Endings lead to beginnings. Meet new people, try new things, explore new paths. You finally have nothing holding you back from pursuing that career, going on that date, trying that new recipe. Before you had nothing pushing you to try something new, now you have nothing holding you back.

Failure Teaches You Empathy

Life experience changes your perspective of the world. Things become less black and white, right or wrong, and you realize that life has no one path to take. Through your own struggles you become more empathetic to the struggles of others. You can be more present with others, more vulnerable, more genuine. Failure makes you a better friend.

You Learn That Failure Doesn’t Kill You

Yes, it sucks to fail. It sucks to lose out on jobs or relationships or things that were really important to you. When it happens you can feel like your whole life is crashing down, your self esteem plummets. But eventually you realize something: you survived. You find a new job, a new relationship, a new hobby, your life goes on and you may actually end up being happier because of it. And once you learn that failure doesn’t kill you, you may actually start taking more risks in life.

Failure sucks. But sometimes you have to fail to get to the next chapter. And sometimes, you may even be better off because of it.

 

Darci

5 Things to Stop Caring About

Life can be stressful. Life can be chaotic. Life can be hard. The biggest kicker, though, is that sometimes we make life harder on ourselves. By indulging in negative thoughts or memories, prioritizing toxic people, living in the past, we hurt ourselves in the present and delay our happiness in the future. I’ve been working a lot on reshaping how I spend my mental energy. How I talk to myself. What I am spending my time thinking about. Being intentional about catching myself in a negative spiral and changing the game. It’s not always easy. But it’s important work. I’m trying to retrain my brain to think differently. So this week I thought I would share the five things I am working on changing. Take a look:

1. Those Painfully Awkward Moments.

Remember that joke you made in a meeting that didn’t land? Or that answer you gave in class that was definitely wrong? Or that time you thought someone was waving to you but it was actually to someone behind you? Those painfully awkward little moments that your brain likes to recall as you are falling asleep or enjoying some quiet time and now suddenly your heart is racing. Those social blunders that were embarrassing in the moment but that was seven years ago and no one but you remembers them, let alone dwells on them. Even your bigger blunders are probably still only note worthy to you. It’s time to let those go. When your brain starts to remind you, catch yourself and tell your brain that happened years ago and literally no one cares any more. Take the power away from those awkward moments by reminding yourself that it wasn’t as bad as you remember and it is well in the past now.

2. What People From Your Past Are Doing.

I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook stalking is a semi regular event. Social media makes it all too easy to take a passing “hmm I wonder” and turn it into a two hour rabbit hole investigation of what people from my past have been doing. Ex’s, former friends, old coworkers, past roommates, former classmates, all people who are in my past for a reason. And yet, the curiosity gets the better of me every time. It’s natural, though very unhealthy, to look for validation through comparison. But it’s a temporary, fleeting validation that leaves us emptier than we started. It also distracts the focus on your own life. You don’t need to compare your journey, your goals, your accomplishments to anyone to be happy. And, in fact, doing so is hurting your progress. My suggestion? Block those people you find yourself checking in on. That way the next time you are tempted to see what they are up to, you can’t. Eventually you’ll break the habit of even wondering what those people are up to and you won’t be distracted by it any more.

3. Pleasing Everybody.

It’s a cliched lesson, but I think I will spend the rest of my life relearning it. No matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone. There will always be people who take and take and take but never give. There will always be people who are too wrapped up in themselves not noticed anyone else. There will always be people stuck in the comparison game and they will never be happy for you. It’s time to stop worrying about those people. Your life is yours and you have to live it the way you know is best. So keep focusing on your dreams and your goals, keep treating others the way you want to be treated, and when someone shows resentment or expresses grievance over you simply living your life, you now have permission to involve them in your life less. Making time for people who hurt you regularly or openly root against you is silly. It doesn’t matter if they are coworkers, friends you’ve known for years, family, or even romantic partners. Your time is valuable and your mental well being is important. So stop wasting your time trying to please people who can never be won.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Game.

I’ll be honest, I am a fan of this game. Especially when I have a lot of anxiety about a situation or feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes saying your fear out loud can take some of the power away from it. But too much of anything is a bad thing. And I realized recently that I never play the Best Case Scenario Game. My what ifs are always negative. I’m always preparing for the worst, anticipating the worst, assuming the worst. And not only is that way of thinking depressing and unhealthy, it’s exhausting. I find I am always worried, always anxious, depressed far more often. All because I am far too indulgent in my fears rather than focusing on my hopes. I used to justify this way of thinking by saying “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. But what if by dwelling so much on the worst I make the worst inevitable? What if by spending more time focusing on the best, preparing for the best, even planning for the best, that made the best happen? So now, when I catch myself playing the Worst Case Scenario Game, I make myself stop and think about what the Best Case Scenario could be instead.

5. Where You Should Be in Life at X Age.

Again, comparison is a dangerous habit that pretty much only leads to depression. Just because you aren’t married yet, don’t have kids, haven’t gotten that degree, don’t have that professional title yet, doesn’t mean you are falling behind or failing. School was very structured, and it gave all of us this false illusion that the rest of life would be too. But there is no order of events, no timeline to follow, no progress report, no big moments you need to hit by a certain time. Plenty of people followed “the plan” of getting married young to someone they weren’t actually compatible with, had kids even though they weren’t ready to be a parent, or worked their way up the ladder for a career they didn’t want. Too many people do what they are “supposed” to do without considering if they want to do it. And too many people feel like they are failing at life because they aren’t doing what they are “supposed” to be doing right now. But the most freeing moment in life is when you realize that you get to call the shots for your life and you get to decide what path is right for you.

Why is it so easy for our brains to think negatively, to be stressed or anxious or overwhelmed, to focus on comparisons or the past, but we doing the opposite takes so much work? I’ve been wondering that a lot lately as I’ve been working on intentionally changing my patterns. When did those patterns form, I wonder. And when will they change? It’s hard work, it’s consistent work, but it’s good work. And hopefully it will stop being work someday and start being a way of life.

Darci

Spring Clean Your Life

Spring is here! I love spring. Longer, warmer days, cherry blossoms, cleaning (ya I know I’m odd), getting outside. This winter was crazy and I actually didn’t mind being cooped up inside but I am ready for the change of the seasons. This is the time of year when we start thinking about refreshing our lives, our home. Spring cleaning is a great way to remind yourself of your New Year’s goals and find renewed energy for them, a great way to intentionally take care of your home and honor the space you live (even if you KonMaried earlier this year), and a great way to harness this new energy into something productive. But spring cleaning doesn’t have to just be about literal cleaning, this is also a great time to refresh your life.

So while you are thinking about spring cleaning your home, starting that garden, and ways to manage your allergies, also think about how you can freshen up your life.

Here are 5 ideas on how to spring clean your life:

Declutter Your Mind

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely an over thinker. Diving into why could be its own blog series. I find it hard to quiet my mind, and I can find decision making exhausting. So I try to find ways to eliminate some decision making. Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit every day so he wouldn’t be burdened with decisions. Personally, I like picking out my outfit every day, but I love the idea behind it. For me, meal prep became my saving grace. Every Sunday I make a big batch of something (usually stir fry) and some smoothies and have my breakfasts and lunches set up for the week. For me, figuring out what to eat every day is exhausting, so finding a routine that eliminated that work was a huge help. Is there something in your day to day life you could streamline?

Clean Up Your Relationships

All relationships take work, but the good ones will fuel you and support you. Are there people in your life who you are giving time to that are not fulfilling? One sided relationships, toxic people, self involved people, they can all be a real drag on your life. How about yourself? Are you investing the same time you are getting? Take some time to evaluate the people you spend time with and how you could better prioritize your loved ones.

Check Your Attitude

Your mindset is everything, so it’s important to try and have a healthy attitude in life. How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind and patient and gracious? Or are you angry and bullying yourself? What are your expectations in life, and are they reasonable? Your attitude affects every part of your life and influence how you interact with others. Check in with yourself and see how you are reacting to situations and if that could be improved. The best part about an attitude change is that it costs you nothing and can completely transform your life.

Prioritize Self Care

I am all about self care this year. I’m learning to say no to things more (emphasis on learning), I’m indulging in beauty care products like face masks and bath bombs, I’m prioritizing my fitness goals, and it has been amazing. I’m feeling healthier, I’m getting stronger, my skin is looking better, and I have more energy to give to people now. Learning to take care of myself better, finding ways to look forward to taking care of myself, has lead to me being a better friend and partner. I’m don’t need to lean on others so I have more to give. What are ways you can indulge in self care? It could be reading more often, a special treat like tea or chocolate you can enjoy, going to bed earlier, or discovering a new hobby. Find ways to indulge more in you.

Get Outside

I believe being outside is cleansing. Go for a walk every evening, spend your Saturday at the beach or a park, make your backyard an enjoyable sanctuary. Winter is cold and dark and honestly I enjoy it for a short while, but sunshine is magic and we should all be spending more time in it. Refresh your soul with some much needed vitamin d.

What are ways you life to freshen up and spring clean your life?

-Darci

GUEST WRITER: Online Dating

Want to be a Guest Writer for Angry Feminist? Let me know! 

I am new to the dating scene.  I haven’t been here since 2009, and let’s be honest, I didn’t really date then either.  I’ve been in a monogamous relationship from then until now, and the whole premise of dating has changed since I was looking last.  Everything seems to have moved to dating apps. There’s always a new one, and my social media ads are flooded with promises to find me “The One” or at least someone to keep me entertained.  It’s a strange world, and I’m not sure what to do with it other than dive right in, with my friends scanning the waters for sharks.

This whole online dating thing feels like a video game.  If you hop on Bumble (which I have) or Tinder (which I haven’t) you have a seemingly endless number of guys at your literal fingertips who you judge based almost solely on their first picture.  If that first picture doesn’t immediately turn you off, maybe you look through the others and see if they wrote anything interesting in their bio. “Something interesting” means they have the same generic list of enjoyed activities that I do.  I like reading, music, dancing, and watching reruns of The Office at all times. These are pretty low bars for connecting with someone, so really it’s just a constant influx of “Hot or Not.” And even weirder is knowing that presumably all these men are out there playing the same game with my pictures.

It has happened a few times now that I “match.”  Someone played the game and agreed that I have similar interests to them and I passed the “Hot or Not” test.  Then we get to play the game of “how do you talk to a stranger on the internet.” I hate this game. With a passion. I struggle.  Mightily. Not being able to read facial cues, see if they laughed or not, not being able to present my own social cues with expression, intonation, inflection, makes communicating very difficult for me until I actually know someone.  I’m highly sarcastic but rarely feel like that translates well in text. I dislike using emojis with people I don’t know, as they can come off pretty childish, and I judge men who use those as their primary form of communication. But despite all these lacking levels of communication, maybe half of the men who swipe right ask for a date.  Which brings the next level of weirdness to the situation as a woman.

I am a hyper vigilant, small-ish framed, 5’8” woman. I have no doubt in my mind that if someone wants to, they can easily overpower me. Which means that actually meeting these strangers from the internet whom I have judged via pictures comes with a certain amount of anxiety about my own personal safety. My friends and I came up with some ground rules as I started this, to make sure I was as safe as possible.

-I always meet in a very public place.
-I do not tell anyone where I live or work.
-I do not tell them my last name. I made this mistake once and instantly regretted it. He did not take the rejection well and edged towards stalking.
-I let my friends know if I am going on a date, and
-If it’s late at night or nearing dark hours I let them know his name and send a photo. Just in case someone needs it to investigate my disappearance.

Again, I’ve always been hyper-vigilant.  I’m very aware of the dangers of being female at night, and always have been.  Most of these are common sense to women. Many of these things are just how I have always lived, but with the added danger of meeting strangers and living alone, I’m even more cautious about them. I strongly suspect that none of these issues cross men’s minds, unless they are one of the conscientious men who look at those things for the woman they want to date. Again, not for their own safety.

Despite all this weirdness, I have managed to meet a few guys. So far the dating experience itself has been interesting.

My first date who got a repeat was Monday Guy.  Monday Guy was thus dubbed because he would consistently ask for a date on Mondays (creative, I know).  Monday Guy was wildly attractive, very in shape, intelligent, and held a conversation well for a first date.  I thought he would be fun, until our second date. At this point, he waxed poetic about the joys of being able to hunt and kill things, hit other men, and just generally know that he could handle himself in an attack situation due to his Jiu Jitsu training. This is all fine and dandy, but became an issue on the walk back to his car.  He went out of his way to swagger through a group of motorcyclists standing outside, and I cannot emphasize the word “swagger” enough here. He intentionally went out of his way to walk directly through the middle of their group. Even better was that it was the wrong street, and his car was not actually parked there.

Needless to say, that was our last date, but not because I didn’t try for another. No, at this point, I was still putting up with what I thought might be the expected level of asshole in a cute guy.  We all have faults, and I assumed machismo was his. I asked to hang out again, he gave me a maybe, then ghosted. I was upset at first, as this was the first guy I had dated and thus the first guy to reject me.  After a few days, I recognized how toxic his attitude was, noticed more of the things he had said that were deeply problematic, and felt much better about no longer being in contact. I learned not to put up with assholes.

Next was Tractor Guy.  We had some great dates that always involved live music.  He was fun, kind, and great to talk to. He was also overly attached and emotionally messy very quickly.  After two dates, he started waxing poetic with actual poetry, which was incredibly uncomfortable for me. He wanted to lend me books and borrow books from me.  He sent me a collection of recipes with the “healing spiritual properties” of various fruits and vegetables (as in “figs will open your heart and heal emotional wounds” type properties).  He’s clearly a really sweet guy, but was ready to jump right into a full fledged relationship after a couple dates, which was not what I was looking for. After the recipe incident, I sent him the classic “I appreciate your time but I think we’re looking for different things” text (which I first drafted with my friends to be sure I wasn’t being insensitive).  He wished me well and we moved on with our lives.

Move on to Aladdin, thus named because looking like Aladdin was all he had going for him.  Younger than me but not by much, his profile made him look well traveled and well educated with a master’s degree.  All true, but he neglected to say that he lives with his parents “except on the weekends.” I cannot tell you how confused I am by that statement.  Where does he live on the weekends? I did not ask. He walked me to my car, tried to put his hand up my dress while kissing me. When I stopped him he cracked a joke about me being a prude. I told him to walk away and did not talk to him again.  Disturbing as that experience was, it’s something most women can relate to. Somehow this stranger that I had met two hours before thought he was entitled to my body and had the right to cut me down for having boundaries.

The next date had the same problem, with 6’8” Professor.  Again, touted himself as an intellect, well educated, nice guy.  We met for a date in the middle of the day, kissed at some point, and he slid his hand onto my ass in broad daylight in the middle of a bookstore.  I moved his hand. Later he did it a second time. I moved his hand and told him I wasn’t comfortable with that level of PDA. On our goodbye, he did it a third time and laughed.  Clearly my boundaries were a joke, and something that he didn’t have to respect. I am grateful this date was in a highly populated, well lit area. I am grateful I didn’t give him a second chance.  My “No” was clearly heard and just as clearly ignored by someone a full foot taller than myself. I did not feel safe.

Farmboy was a beautiful air force guy who seemed incredibly nervous on our first date, which was flattering.  He didn’t try to kiss me, which made me feel like my boundaries were being respected. He got a second date, and I realized that what I had mistaken for nervousness was actually just his personality, which was disturbingly reminiscent of my ex.  He continuously guided the conversation to point out how good he was at certain things. We went to a bar with very niche decor, somewhat horror story-esque (think Poe more than slasher), and sat in what can only be described as thrones. He talked about how much he loved the bar, how great he thought everything in there was, from the black ceilings, walls, floors, drapery, and candles to the taxidermied animals.  I politely nodded along but had very different opinions, which when he asked about, he then proceeded to negate and tell me why I was wrong with that opinion. He attempted to manipulate my emotions and actions multiple times throughout our date. I ended it after recognizing why this pattern felt so familiar, and told him we would not be seeing each other again. At this point, I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to read people as well as my ability to turn someone down without being mean.

My most recent experience was the strangest and most worrisome.  I’ll call him Angry Guy. We got drinks and talked for about three hours, during which time I enjoyed the conversation but noticed some red flags and did not feel any real attraction to him.  However, he seemed like a nice guy, so I gave him my number and told him he could see me again. That night turned into a lot of texting from him, and I started to second guess my decision. He seemed to be getting very attached and somewhat territorial after one date.  He asked for two more dates within the week, and when I said I was busy he cracked jokes about my popularity on Bumble and how I should try not to let anyone else impress me before our next date. He assumed I was going on other dates, but was already setting a precedent that I shouldn’t.  Things he had told me on our date came back that I had somehow overlooked at the time. For instance, thinking it’s appropriate to tell me on a first date about how his ex called the cops on him because he was burning pictures of them in a barbecue while drunk is definitely a reason to get out of there fast.  But I laughed it off and chalked it up to crazy exes even though HE WAS BURNING THINGS WHILE DRUNK AND SHE CALLED THE COPS.

I never said I was smart.

After I reevaluated spending more time with this guy, I sent another “Hey, I appreciate your time, but I’m actually not feeling it” text and expected a similar response to my previous rejections.  What I got instead was hours of progressively angrier and more accusatory texts that continued sporadically from 8 pm to 6 am. His first text was reasonable and asked for clarification about what had changed my mind so suddenly, which I replied to.  The following texts declared me cold, heartless, confused, told me what a missed opportunity this was and I would end up regretting my choice, that we should still be friends, etc. When I didn’t respond to any of his texts, he sent a similar message on instagram because surely the issue was that I just wasn’t seeing his texts.  He told me I had misinterpreted his interest, that he wasn’t actually as interested as he seemed and we should go on another date. This is strange logic. He told me he was out drinking with a buddy and that’s why he sent so many texts. When I woke up to another text the next morning stating that I was cold and cruel, I blocked him on every platform I have. Lesson learned about not paying attention to very obvious red flags.

Gentlemen, these are not acceptable behaviors.  Why anyone thinks that guilting someone into a second date (or third, or twentieth) is a good idea, I will never understand.  The appropriate response to “I’m just not feeling it” is to say ok and move on. It’s not up for discussion. It’s not a debate.  I do not know you, I owe you nothing, and I have no interest in keeping you in my life. Drop it.

Online dating is strange, but I’m learning.  I’m strangely growing more confident through it all.  I’ve discovered that I am decent at reading people, and I have learned to trust my instincts.  If something feels off to me, it usually actually is. I’m learning to pay attention to how people treat me and have it mean something.  I’m learning how to give and accept rejection gracefully, and experiencing firsthand people who haven’t yet. I’m learning to spend time with myself, and feel strong in my independence.  Yes, dating is fun, but it’s not the be-all end-all that it’s often made out to be. I’m glad I can say I tried dating apps, but I’m happy to give them a break. I’m logging off for now.

 

-Victoria