The Hook Up: 8-3-2011

I’m coming off a recent-ish break up with my girlfriend of three years. My friends told me to try online dating, so I went and created a profile, but I can’t actually respond to anyone who messages me. I do find the attention flattering, but I also feel kinda guilty sometimes, like these girls are looking to date and I’m just seeing what’s out there and biding my time. Should I delete my profile until I’m ready to actually give it a go?


Anna says: Well, on the scale of awful things you can do to another human being, using dating sites primarily for validation (aka vali-dating) falls somewhere between throwing small pieces of gum wrapper at someone and pouring a delicious bowl of Cap’n Crunch when the only milk you have has just curdled. Both of these things happened to me today — they’re not just compelling metaphors of sadness. In other words, it’s not quite malicious, but it’s also not very nice. It’s hard enough to deal with rejection from people who actively dislike your personality or appearance, but to be rejected/ignored by those who are simply boosting their ego? That, my friend, is Lametown, USGAY. The same goes for all those people happily coupled but who keep their profiles active anyway. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

If I appear too brash and bitter about this, it’s because I am.

Might I suggest you get your flattery from some other means? You could start a blog perhaps, or learn to make your own mayonnaise. You could also teach yourself to juggle, which is the coping mechanism I use to get over all the girls who don’t write me back online. And also because it’s incredibly erotic, obviously. Now would someone kindly bring me some milk that hasn’t expired please?

It’s been nearing a year since I broke up with my ex (my first official girlfriend). She cheated on me once, shame on her; twice, shame on me. It hurts like hell. I swear and promised that I’d never ever want to go through it ever again. It feels like I’ve shut down completely. Although I have being going out, socializing and putting myself out there online, it feels rather useless.


Actually, deep down I just want to have fun, casual sex at 19. However, more often than not, women (younger/older) want more than what we mutually agreed on. How can I move on, or rather, how can I have feelings (even if I tried opening up myself) by not having to see a psychiatrist? How can I just have casual sex and not be deemed a player?


Disclaimer: I haven’t broken any hearts nor been a third party. It’s kinda my rule ’cause I know how it hurts.


 

Anna says: I’m sorry you got your heart broken, and that your ex cheated on you. That’s never easy to deal with, whether at 19 or 59. I have good news though: Those numbing days when we are recovering from heartache do add up. All the crying and long walks and wallowing in self-pity pave the way back to our own beautiful, messy, triumphant recoveries. The ways you are coping are not useless, though they may feel like it sometimes. Keep doing what you’re doing — living, going out, socializing, negotiating short term relationships, etc., if that’s what feels right to you at this juncture.

Sometimes I wish lesbians could be a little more like gay men when it comes to casual hook ups (and happy hour drink specials. Two-for-one long island iced teas, betches!). One girl I was casually courting wouldn’t even invite me into her apartment until we were Facebook friends.

If a gal changes her mind about the terms of your hook up arrangement, the only thing you can do is continue to be open and honest with her. If it turns out you want different things, then move on. Treating people with respect, affection, regard, and compassion, that is how you avoid being called derogatory terms like “player” that don’t really mean anything.

One caveat: If you are pursuing these flings as a way to distract yourself from grieving, or from overcoming the loss of your relationship, then stop. If casual hook ups ever start to make you feel bad about yourself, then stop. There’s a Lee Ann Womack song that goes, “I may hate myself in the morning, but I’m gonna love you tonight.” I used to abide by that adage until I realized that hating myself even for the briefest amount of time wasn’t worth it, despite those glorious, meaningful-in-the-moment exchanges. I’m not saying the same is true for you, but I am saying that respecting yourself is of the utmost importance, way more so than breezy gratification.

You’re 19. You have many, many years of relationships, flings, and breaking hearts ahead of you. And you may not know it, but you are moving on. With each passing day, you are becoming a little more OK. It sounds cliché (and unfortunately rhymey), but it’s true. Each day you go on living brings you to a truer, braver version of yourself. Trust your gut, and you’ll be aces.

Hi Anna, It’s my first time writing to you, since I’ve really enjoyed reading your column at AfterEllen.com. I fell for a girl who lives in Sydney. We spent four days together, most of them drunk. I live in Manila. Do you think this is something I should pursue? I really feel she is different from anyone I’ve met. We’ve never kissed, but I felt like crying when I said goodbye to her.


Anna says: I’ve drastically shortened your letter because all the details you included boil down to this: The short answer is no, you shouldn’t. But don’t take my brevity as flippant. I’m a crazy proponent of impractical, long-distance love affairs, and I believe that sometimes making reckless, bold decisions for love is one of the most worthwhile things we can do as human beings. But should you radically alter your life for a stranger whose feelings toward you are basically unknown? No. Nononononono. Be her long-distance Facebook friend. That’s fine. Get to know her in sobriety. If, after a year or so, you are still crazy about her, and (this is the most important part) she is just as crazy about you, then we’ll talk switching continents. For now though, relax. If this girl is as awesome as you describe, and if she’s worthy of your love, then the rest will fall into place eventually.

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at askthehookup@gmail.com.

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