normal-rejection Q. I went on two dates with a girl, both of which were really fun, so I asked her out again. And out of the blue, I get a text message from her declining, saying that she appreciates the offer but is “feeling we’re not really compatible for the long term.” WTF? Of course, I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want me, but my confidence has been shaken. It’s now making me wonder about this other girl I have been on four dates with. I’m just afraid of being blindsided again. 

WTF Freddie 

My dear Freddie,

I’m sorry that you got the dreaded “see ya never” note. I’ve been on the receiving end of one of those myself. More than one! It’s never easy to take. There’s nothing to “do” about this, really. She said it clear as day: She’s not into it, and she’s moving on. There’s a lot that sucks about being in your position, but ambiguity isn’t one of them. Because she’s made the decision for you.

I do want to question your choice of the word “blindsided,” however. I know you’re feeling shafted in a big way right now. But having it end two dates in does not qualify for being blindsided. Blindsided is when you’ve been married 15 years, have three kids, and everything seems sweet as pie, and one day your wife goes out to get her roots done and never comes back.

Of course you never saw it coming, because you couldn’t have seen much coming at that point! You weren’t even out of the driveway yet!

I don’t say this to minimize your disappointment, but to remind you what dating is: It’s taking a risk every time, knowing you can and will get rejected, more than once. (Read why you should get rejected more).

The very thing that makes dating hard is what makes it exciting: Because you never know. The same thing goes for relationships in the long term. Of course, when you commit, you should kinda know—but you don’t always.

You might reasonably expect that if two dates went well, then you should have a third. Maybe a fourth. But where does it end? Should she go on 10 dates, and then end it? She’s doing a kind thing to cut her losses and save you some time when she’s not feeling it. I can’t tell you how many people say they feel slighted that someone didn’t “give them a chance.” But there comes a point when you just know this isn’t the fit for you. And you may not have realized it, but she did. And now you do.

What puzzles me is that now you’re “wondering about” this other lady in your life that you’re seeing. Wondering what, exactly? Whether she and this other girl and everyone else you’ve starred on OK Cupid have convened under secret cover to plot the systematic takedown of your self esteem?

You know this isn’t true. But you also know that to love and to date is to risk, every single goddamned time. No one, not even the love of your life, should you find her, can promise you you’ll never get hurt.

You’ve got to ask yourself: Are you seeking a partner…or mass acceptance and approval by other women? Is the goal never to be rejected by any of them and then fill a multi-bedroom house with sister wives? My guess is no.

If you want someone you can love, and maybe even marry (if that’s your thing, and it might not be), then by design that means you’ll pass on most people. Almost all of them. You will get weeded out, and you will let others go. At some point, the pool of folks narrows. Worry less about what this “means” and instead, thank her. She’s just done you a favor.

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Image courtesy wikihow. Click to learn their tips for playing hard to get!

Q. After dating this guy for a month, I asked him where we stood, and he said somewhere between casual and exclusive. I was okay with that, but after three months I called it off. I wanted more. Then I started initiating hangouts, and sometimes we had sex. I thought if I reminded him of how charming and fun I was, he would come around. But I’m tired of the FWB thing. I suggested we just be friends. Anytime we hang out he wants sex and I always say no. Then he shoots me texts and I initiate again, and the cycle continues. Is this helping me get him back (playing hard to get) or just annoying to him? –Ms. C.

Dear Ms. C,

I have bad news for you: You’re no closer to getting what you want from this man. You are out treading water in romantically ambiguous waters with no shoreline in sight. You think by flailing harder you’ll get somewhere. But you will not. Not like this.

I say this because I KNOW those waters. I have spent some time paddling around there myself. I have done that whole, hey let me remind you of how cool I am and maybe you’ll decide to be with me. Except this never, ever works.

The reason is this: You’re not in control. You gave it up when you started initiating after calling it off, effectively teaching him not to believe anything you say or do, in the blind hope that he’ll come to his senses and commit to you. While you’re thinking he may change his mind, he’s thinking you’ll change yours-and while he hasn’t, you have. Because you keep showing up.

The only person you’re playing hard to get with is yourself, because you keep denying what you want, and pretending you’re ok with less.

Essentially, you’re acting like the hot apps platter that gets passed around the room. Every time you get to him, you hope he’ll sample from the tray-which he does. Only you’re hoping if you give him enough samples, he’ll follow you around. But no one follows the hot apps platter around; it comes to you. You’ve shown him that he doesn’t have to do anything or take any action whatsoever, because sooner or later, the platter will happen by again, he’ll surely help himself to whatever’s on offer.

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Don’t act like a tray of hors d’oeuvres, when you want to be a main course.

You can’t get the three-course meal you want because you’re acting like an hors d’oeuvre.

Look, you say he’s a nice, funny guy with whom you click, and you want to be with him. He isn’t the problem here. He’s just some dude, taking what he can get from nice girls he kinda likes.

The problem is that you have not committed to what you want, and you’re not being honest about it. You don’t want him as a friend. You want him as your boyfriend. You’re settling for what you can get, and that puts you in a very weak position. This is going nowhere productive. (By the way, what does “somewhere between casual and exclusive” mean? You’re either one or the other. There is no gradient.)

In my very popular post about Having the Talk, I say that the one who asks first loses-especially in something so new. You jumped the gun asking for security so early on, and I would have encouraged you to let it ride a bit. After anywhere from 3 to 6 months of dating, when you’re getting some momentum, yes, then it’s the time to say, “Here’s what I want.” And if that person cannot or will not deliver on it, then it’s time to say goodbye.

You asked early, said what you wanted, then proceeded to show him that you were not to be taken at your word. Take him at his word: He doesn’t want anything serious!

Hard to get someone to chase you when you’re busy chasing them. You have demonstrated you are willing to settle for what he’ll give you–a friendly hangout, or whatever. And so he will always try to get what he wants: Sex without strings. Sure, he likes you. But he doesn’t love you. You know this.

I would cease all communication, and never reach out to him again. I wouldn’t respond when he writes or texts. It’s time for you to stand by what it is you really want. You owe yourself that. You owe him nothing. Unfriend, unfollow, see ya later. No good can come of this.

If he all of a sudden comes to life and demands to know why you’re not responding, then you tell him, “I’m not interested in spending time with people I’m not serious about.” Bang. End of story. If he wants to be taken seriously, he has your number.

I know it’s a heartbreak; you were really trying to give it a chance. But you also weren’t being honest with yourself or him in thought or deed. You don’t need him as “just a friend.” To my mind, someone who’s flaky, noncommittal, lazy, and only wants what’s delivered to him not only makes for a lousy boyfriend, but a lousy friend. Take the time you would spend with him to focus on yourself. If you have the need, browse through Lovegasm and treat yourself, alone, to some sex toys or some tantalization. But do not fall back to him.

You do not need friends like this in your life. You do not need men like this in your life. You deserve above all to have someone who’s hungry for more, and will chase you down with unrelenting fervor to make it happen.

eadce194e1c80717908b0a1e924866abSince I’ve been single, which hasn’t been all that long, I’ve been on three dates. And would you believe two of the three were rocking a hat. Two!

And not a hat meant to keep your head warm, nor a hipster/barista’s “I didn’t shower” knit cap, mind you. But a gentleman’s hat. And while any single piece of clothing isn’t going to make or break a person necessarily (though there are exceptions), a man who’s dressed like a grown up, not an undergrad, wins big points. Ladies, there are men who make a fucking effort and, yes, it does matter.

I’ll say the same for women (as I said here), that first impressions count. Period. As you and I well know plenty of women balk at the idea that they should be judged by their appearance or attire. They think of it as unfeminist. They get enraged at the idea. But I think that’s silly. A bunch of bunk. Sorry–you can’t look like a slob and expect men to be attracted to you. Doesn’t work that way. Show me a person who gets really pissed off at the idea of being judged by their looks and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t like their looks.

Of course we all care about MORE than just looks. You’ve got to have more to offer than just eye candy. That goes without saying. But the looks up front do matter. And what makes me happy is to see men stepping up in that area as well.

But yes, hats are back. And I for one, am charmed by it. It harkens back to another era, when men wouldn’t be seen without one. Rakish looking men from the 1920s; dashing, fast-talking men from the Twilight Zone; Indiana Jones (need I say more?). I yearn for the days when men dressed to go out, before the sporting-goods-passing-as-wardrobe era. Which is why I honor the man who makes the effort.

The first date was a retired air force sergeant in his early 40s who told me, since we’d never met, to look for the guy in the porkpie hat. And there he was, waiting for me in the wine bar with a glass of red for me (points for classy). He turned out to be quite the gentleman: tall and comfortable in his own skin, worldly and kind, sensitive. I could tell he wore his hat with a sense of humor, not a thumb-your-nose, “Oh I’m so ironic” way. He genuinely liked wearing it, and I thought that was cool.

You gotta have a certain level of self confidence to rock a hat, to be sure. And you can’t take yourself too seriously. Wearing a topper indoors requires an innate or highly cultivated sense of style and self. True, too, men don’t really get to have too much fun with what they wear–what are their options, really. Button down? Khaki pants? Bore. But if you’re willing to go beyond the Standard American Dress, it says something about you.

Which is why I gotta hand it to my other hatted date, who met me at Cafe Tallulah, a stylish French bistro with easy charm, perfect lighting, and dollar oysters til 8pm. He wore a shirt, vest, tie, and a classic men’s hat, and drank scotch on the rocks. We spent two hours together, talking about our careers, families, the dating terrain in Manhattan. What we found important in other people and potential partners. And I made sure I complimented him, too–I knew he’d stepped up his game for the sole purpose of meeting me, and that alone was a lovely compliment to me.

Men, if you feel like you don’t know how to dress properly, don’t stress. There’s plenty of inspiration and ideas online nowadays that make it easier to develop your style. This online clothing store in particular has plenty of trendy and on-fashion clothing items and accessories to make sure you look your very best, on and off a date.

So if you want to date people, start dating. Stop with the whole bullshit “yeah we’re just hanging out” thing, rolling up to the bar or restaurant in unwashed jeans. It undermines your efforts to do what you want most: To meet someone who matters. The only way to make a shift in an uneventful dating life is to make it an event. Something you not just show up for, but dress for.

 

osteen_final_rectJoel Osteen wants me to be obedient.

That’s what he tells the ginormous congregation at Lakewood Church, and me, when I got caught in his magnetic Christian trance after Meet the Press. But not just any kind of obedient. Boldly obedient.

“You’re waiting on God,” he says, “but God’s waiting on you.”

Osteen looks like he was crafted in a televangelist lab, engineered to disarm, persuade. The blinding smile, aw shucks manner, and, let’s face it, fantabulous Christian-rock hair, sparkling with Jesus fairy dust.

But don’t be fooled: What Osteen is really saying is not to be obedient at all. Don’t wait til you’re told, he says, take the risk. Take action (which by the way is the opposite of “obedient,” which, in case you need reminding, means “do what you’re told.”) It makes about as much sense as me telling you to take initiative—but only when I say so.

The lambs who’ve gathered in the warm lamplight of Osteen’s angelic gaze are waiting for Joel to tell them what to do, and he’s saying: Don’t wait. Of course, the reason Osteen says you should take action is because then God can “release blessings into your life.” Mmm, not sure about that one.

This Is Self Help, People

If you peel away all the Christian this and God that, what you find is that Osteen is no different from any other motivational speaker or self-help guru (um, he has ads on the subway. Case closed). While I don’t buy any of his reasons for being obedient (read: disobedient), what he’s saying makes sense, no matter what your religious persuasion.

You should be disobedient (read: not because someone else orders or approves) because it’s the only way to get what you want. And this is why so much of the teachings of the Church work: Because they’re good ideas painted over again and again by every faith. Chip away at the churchy gilt and replace all the “God”s with “You”s. You can’t make a change by waiting. Change doesn’t just happen. You have to do a thing.

Osteen references the gospel story in which Jesus heals the blind man by smearing mud on his eyes and then, having him wash it off in the pool of Solomon. Why the charade, right Jesus? (Though of course anyone who’s read even a few pages of the New Testament knows he was every bit the showman). Because you have to perform an act to bring about your own change, your own healing. That’s something I can get behind.

Don’t Wait Around

You owe it to yourself to take action, to take risks, and not “wait” for the right thing or person or circumstance to come along. I hear this from my coaching clients all the time. If you wait for someone to give you the go-ahead—to get a new job, to find a boyfriend, whatever—you’re going to be waiting a long time. And if it doesn’t happen, you don’t get to point fingers at God; you have only yourself to blame.

(Do I need to remind you why fate is not your friend?)

And I don’t know about you, but I get fucking impatient. I can’t wait. At the same time, I’m just as scared as you are: of rejection, of failure, of whatever could get in between where I am and what I want. I get it. But you’ll never get anything you want by waiting for it to just happen. God, Jesus, the angels and saints, are not your stage managers, ushering the right person or places into the scene from the wings.

This is improv: You walk on and initiate. You start making decisions based on what’s in front of you, without knowing what will happen, and without any promise of success (or laughs). Your choices and actions in turn affect how someone responds to you, and on and on it goes.

That’s the good news. That no man is coming to save you or going to drop a net full of balloons on your head when you do the “right” thing. But that all of it is up to you. In fact, if we’re going to pick a fable, let’s go with the Wizard of Oz, because the real power Dorothy has never came from Oz at all. She had it the whole time. And so do you.

 

NiezmJ4The post was called “Marriage Is Not For You” and it’s gotten 24 million views and counting. 24 million.

What sounded like it might be an edgy, controversial post ended up doing little more than underscore sentimental, conventional values that harken back to, as the author says, pre-Walmart days and the pesky, modern demand for satisfaction (imagine that).

But look more closely and you’ll see it’s about something else altogether: A young, white male treading water, maybe even flailing a bit, in a cultural riptide, as he tries to figure out what it means to be a man and a husband in the 21st century. Marriage isn’t about him—that he’s right about. And it’s put him in a little over his head.

The Backstory

So you know by now that the piece is predicated on the wisdom that Seth Adam Smith, the clean-cut, all-American blogger from Alaska, received from his father when he started wondering if he was ready to get married, and if Kim was the one. “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy,” said Seth’s dad. “More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family.”

Of course, that’s served up lots of fodder for debate, as it threatens to undo all the women’s movement has worked so hard TO do—give women the right to choose what’s right for them (which may or may not include marriage)—by implying that real love isn’t about you at all. And that marriage is a lifelong favor you pay to someone else.

Just Imagine If a Woman Wrote That

Fail to consider and seriously question your own happiness in any commitment and you risk a life of misery. The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions—and that includes marriage vows that were served up in hopes it was what the other person wanted.

Now stop for a minute and imagine if a woman wrote this piece. You can guess at the outrage. Even women who don’t call themselves feminists would get queasy. But I digress.

Seth recalls his father’s wisdom during a “rough patch” he and his wife experienced during their first year of marriage, which inspired the post.

But what you don’t know from the article itself is the REASON they hit a rough patch (which he did talk about on HuffPost Live). Turns out his wife got accepted to school…in Florida. So they had to relocate across the country, and Seth, frankly, wasn’t psyched about it. He became hardened and resentful (his words), until the shit hit the fan and I’m guessing ol’ Seth said some things he wasn’t so proud of.

Instead of throwing a dish at him, his lovely wife shows herself to be the true embodiment of selfless love, and envelops him in her arms instead. That’s when Seth realizes he’s been a real douchebag, and resolves to be better, recalling his dad’s words of infinite wisdom.

This is hardly new territory. But it’s new to SETH. And new to lots of men. After all, women have been accommodating and pleasing and pushing their own needs and wants onto the back burner for as long as anyone can remember. But a dude says, “Look what I did! I realized I’m not the center of the world!” and he’s catapulted to internet stardom and met with instant, widespread praise.

Let’s not forget that the reason Seth got all pouty to begin with was because HE HAD TO DO SOMETHING HE DIDN’T WANT TO, like relocate far away, and not for his career, but for hers.

This isn’t about love. This is about control, meaning, self. Seth flew off the handle precisely at that moment when he realized—my God—he wasn’t getting what he wanted, and that his wife was calling the shots (to some degree, anyway). Seth went to bed in Florida or Alaska or wherever, and woke up in Hanna Rosin’s  house (you know, the woman who declared the End of Men).

With more and more women finding themselves the breadwinners, or at the very least having as many attractive and lucrative offers as their spouses, more men are going to find themselves in this exact same place, looking for reasons for why it’s ok that their role is changing—whether that means following their wives’ careers, or just having a little less say in how things go down than they have historically.

So, how do you resolve that cognitive dissonance? You make what you’re doing to cope with it a virtue, and seek validation for it—which is exactly what he’s done. And what we’ve given him.

 

 Originally published here on yourtango.com

o-HAIR-CUT-facebookA week or so ago, I had four inches cut off my hair. Just like that. I was itching for a change. When the stylist asked me if I was “attached to the length,” I said no, and waved her off in my best impression of the most well-adjusted woman on the planet.

When I left the salon, I felt as if I were missing something. I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. And guess who noticed? No one.

I don’t say this to be all boo-hoo. Fact is, it was a huge relief. I chopped off hair the length of a baby’s arm, and not a single person said, “Good GOD! What did you do?!” Nope. So when I asked a colleague if he thought I went too short, he said, “You got it cut?” Yes, I said. “You sure?”

My boyfriend, who knew I was going to get it cut, saw me a few hours later. My going from middle-of-back hair to shoulder-length barely moved the needle. When it came up in conversation with a girlfriend that I had recently gone to a new salon, she said, “Oh, now that you mention it, I did notice your hair looked nice and full.”

It did, and does, look nice. It was a teeny tiny and impermanent change. Just another drop in the bucket of thousands of hair cuts I have had and will have over the course of a lifetime. I was itching for a change, and I got it, and it was very much a personal experience because it affected not a single person other than myself.

I say this because you need to hear it. Because it’s a huge fucking relief. So that you don’t waste precious time fussing or panicking over this zit or your half grown-out bangs, the fact that you wore these shoes with these pants, whatever. It’s not worth the crisis you think it is. Now, I’m all about the details and I’m hardly careless about how I look. But what a great weight off your shoulders when you’re reminded that everyone else is so singularly focused and obsessed with themselves they wouldn’t notice if you weren’t even wearing shoes.

On a recent balmy September morning, I left for a meeting with a client in a new skirt and no stockings. I felt great…until I reached the subway station and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d shaved my legs. I’m being serious. It’s true–I rarely shave them, not because of any kind of statement but because I have next to no hair on them (don’t be jealous, b/c I don’t have much on my head either). But it had been a while and I felt some movement around my shins in the morning breeze that signaled that perhaps too much time had passed.

I quickly thought through my options: Stop at a Duane Reade? Buy a razor and race to the bathroom first, shave in the sink? Nope. That wasn’t happening. I said to myself, no one on God’s earth will notice.

And I was right. 100%. Did not matter. (I did shave them when I got home, however).

Now. Would I make a practice of going out unshorn? No. But whenever you start to get strung up in thoughts about these little things, because you think They Say Something About You, you’ve got to hit the brakes. My boyfriend doesn’t love me any less b/c I have 4 inches less of hair, and your date won’t reject you because of a stain on your shirt, either. Yes, I have thought about doubling back to my apartment when I realized I hadn’t put on mascara. But I didn’t.

Guess what happened? That’s right. A day without mascara that will vanish into the archives of time with nary a whimper.

Do not let the tiny details derail you. They don’t matter as much as you think.

 

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The Showstopper may not be available anymore, but there’s one that’s invisible under t-shirts! Click to see!

When I feel like I’m all over the place, literally and figuratively, I know it’s time to get a new bra. Maybe two. I’m serious. Don’t overlook this vital piece of your wardrobe–though I’m guessing you do, since, like me, you probably get dressed on autopilot and never realize how tired your titslinger has become.

While you wear a fraction of your wardrobe over the course of a month, your bras work overtime. And no matter how many you have crammed into your drawer, I’m willing to bet 20 percent of them are doing 80 percent of the heavy lifting, pun intended.

I was faced with the bedraggled state of my brassiere in the dressing room at Victoria’s Secret last weekend. I had come for the perennially on-sale underwear (5 pair for $26). And thought maybe I’d try on a few bras too. I took off my shirt. And good God. Had I left the house in this? My bra was loose and sagging, straps twisted and worn. When I bought it, the bra had been nude…or was it white? Alas, at this point, I could not tell.

This was going in the trash. Today.

I slid on a top-shelf Victoria Secret bra (the kind that doesn’t go on sale) called The Showstopper. Smooth and seamless, this frosted coral beauty held my girls in a loving, satiny embrace, and I thought, This is what I should feel like all the time. Buoyant. Uplifted. Pulled together.

There was a study not too long ago, published in Psychological Science, that looked at the real-life effects of acting out metaphors; i.e, thinking out of the box, putting two and two together. Turns out, these metaphors derive their power from reality: literally thinking inside or outside of a box does change how you come up with ideas and solutions. Fascinating stuff.

So it’s not a stretch to say that if you’re currently toting your tits around in an ill-fitting, threadbare, seen-better-days brassiere, it’s going to undermine your sense of support–not to mention let gravity take its toll.

It also goes without saying that if you haven’t been fitted by a pro, you need to be. Women are notoriously shitty at knowing what bra size they are. And until I was fitted at a la-di-da lingerie shoppe (and it was a shoppe, not a shop) on the Upper East Side, I had been wearing a 36B, when I’m really a 34C (or 32D, but those are tough to find). WORLD OF DIFFERENCE. And the day I wore a bra that fit, it was like going from a golf cart to a Lexus.

So, get thee to a shoppe or to plain old Vicky Secret and get some new shocks on your system. You can’t expect to feel supported, strong, or resilient if your boobs are sagging and jostling at every bump in the road.

This has been a public service announcement. Ok, not really.

mystery-man

How hard could this be to turn down?

An old friend of mine moved back to New York and before he found an apartment, the guy has dates out the wazoo. Here’s a man who knows how to make it happen. You know how? He asks. He asks a lot of people. He shows interest in lots of ladies online and doesn’t hang in the email limbo, but gets to it and sets up dates and goes on them.

He doesn’t limit himself to the faux rules people draw up for their dream dates (and neither should you). Which means when he came across a woman he found particularly fetching, he didn’t care that she set a lower height limit of 5’9 (my friend is 5’8). He did acknowledge it, however. “I realize you’re looking for men 5’9 and above, but I would really like to meet you.”

She responded that she was willing to bend that requirement if he was ok with the fact that she “really really hates football.”

I told him I wasn’t as concerned with her not liking football as I was about her having such strict rules to begin with. I wish I could hop onto his account and write this girl back myself and say WTF ARE YOU DOING?! Because she’s worried about matching likes/dislikes before she’s even met the dude. Who cares if he likes football? (See: Plenty of happily coupled folks who part ways during Monday night football).

This is where online dating went wrong. The ability to choose preferences has misled you into thinking you can find exactly what you plug into the machine, as if this is a remake of Weird Science and not a filter for meeting actual people. In fact, your list of preferences may very well be the thing that’s keeping you from finding anyone. Because you think you’re writing up a list of prerequisites for a job you’re filling, when really that position is created anew with everyone you meet.

The likes and dislikes are what you learn as you get to know someone, not boxes you check before you do. Because you won’t actually get to know anyone that way if you cut potential off at the knees–especially when it’s a thing that, let’s face it, lots of dudes like. If she rules out ANY guy who likes football, she may be ruling out a lot of wonderful potentials, just because she can’t sit through one sport. #fail.

Newsflash: To love and be loved someone, you don’t have to be perfectly paired on every single thing. You’re not looking for a twin; you’re looking for a partner. And while of course you’ve got to have some things in common, those don’t have to be hobbies, but values, humor, aesthetic–they all play a part. But what I wish for you more is that you find someone who does you one better than match exactly what you like–who expands your world, and your comfort zone, and gives you the courage to try new things.

The profile is not the key to real connection. You won’t ever know what you think of someone until you meet them in person, period.

Think back to the old fashioned way of meeting someone: You get introduced, or maybe you see each other at a party, make eye contact, start chatting. Maybe he gets a job in your office and you see greet each other getting coffee every day. Maybe you wouldn’t have picked this guy out of a lineup of potentials, but he makes you laugh–a lot–or becomes more interesting the more you talk.

Sometimes you’re hit over the head by someone you see and think “Him!” but there have been so many times I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how incrementally more wonderful a person became. A girlfriend of mine confided about her fiance, “He was an average-looking guy on our first date, but he just got hotter every time I saw him.”

So you see how this works, right? And how some prefix menu of attributes, likes, and physical characteristics is something you made up, and doesn’t necessarily predict the person you could really love. You go in with your heart set on finding a man 6’0 or above, who is Buddhist, gluten-free, and passionate about soccer and Siamese cats, and you miss out on the hilarious meat-eating Jew who hates soccer but is crazy good at table hockey, owns a labradoodle you fall for, and makes you feel like the sexiest woman on the planet.

Stop treating yourself as a bouncer to the door of your dating life, looking to turn away anyone who approaches in the wrong shoes. Try not to strictly limit your playing field in the name of what you think you like, and allow yourself to be surprised once in a while. I don’t know if my friend ever went out with that girl, but in my heart of hearts I hope that she does, and as she laughs hard at one of my friend’s silly jokes, says to herself, Thank God I didn’t let a sport I don’t like dictate who I meet. 

Because you shouldn’t, either.

Reading_glassesI don’t look or feel that much different than I did two, five, even ten years ago. In fact, I look better now, thanks to having grown out some questionable haircuts and dropped gluten from my diet. Certainly, no worse for the wear. I still get carded (wherein I blush and make a fuss).

But there’s one area that is aging right on cue: My eyes. They, seem to be losing their ability to focus. Like the rest of me.

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in the second grade, when Orphan Annie had her own line of plastic lens wear and I sported my pair proudly. My face has been framed a hundred different ways thanks to shifting tides in eyewear trends over the years. So getting glasses was not the hurdle here. It was ordering “progressive” lenses that pushed me over the edge.

The way I understand it is this: The flexible lens inside your eye that enables your focus functioning becomes increasingly rigid over time, making it harder for you to see clearly what’s right in front of you. I caught myself holding a menu further from my face and squinting at the computer screen–trademark middle-age moves, and was like, Holy shit.

“You must be close to 40?” my eye doctor asked.

Um, yes, as a matter of fact.

“Yeah,” she nodded, looking back down at her notes. “That happens. Completely normal.” This was very underwhelming.

And ironic. You spend your whole life trying to be normal, like everyone else, better than normal. And then, you’re told that you are, at last, exhibiting the standard markers for normal human aging, as your body breaks down according to plan. It’s very disappointing.

“Unless you wanted to carry around half a dozen pairs of glasses everywhere, the progressive lenses make sense,” she said. “Eighty percent of my patients over 40 use them.” Double oy.

The term “progressives” is a fancy update to “bifocals.” They’re actually quite a technological breakthrough–they’re multifocal, allowing you to shift prescriptions depending on where you look through the lens. I don’t know what mathematical genius came up with a way for a lens to do this, but I am prone to violent motion sickness and anticipate the adjustment being a very bumpy ride. Still, somehow they were able to fix this by measuring the pupillary distance for my new glasses, making the adjustment period a little easier for me. (They haven’t come in yet, so I will report back .) The pupillary distance measures the distance between the center of your pupils. Opticians use this measurement to ensure that the lenses are eyeglasses are correctly aligned.

The problem is the only people I know who wear them…are my parents. Sigh.

So I did it. Ponied up the cash for progressives, the way I imagine people make these kinds of concessions, because it makes sense, the way you might hesitantly say yes to horrible orthopedic shoes. A walker. Adult diapers.

But for now, it’s just glasses, which I’ve worn forever anyway. I’m trying not to make it a thing. (Too late).

This is, in effect, the body’s poetry: It teaches you a kind of wisdom through its limitations, in the way it changes your perception of the world around you. I haven’t been able to see further than four feet in front of me for as long as I can remember, but I’ve always been drawn to the big picture, to what’s out there, what could be and might be, at the sacrifice of focusing on the details. I find it excruciating to concentrate on one thing, one project, one draft without my eyes drifting away to something bigger, easier, further to reach for.

One of my roles is VP of Business & Talent Development at 2 Market Media, where I identify and cultivate talent–which I do by coaching experts to be powerful media personalities, and by developing content, looking down the arc of their story and brand. That feels so natural to me, to think and focus on their big picture, which is a safe distance from me. But when it comes to my own brand, my own projects, well, that’s a bit too close. Things get blurry and hard to see.

It plays out in other ways too–it’s also why I ask for a fork when there’s one right next to my plate, or why I went out and bought a magazine that I already had on a shelf. I keep missing what’s right in front of me, and it can be annoying, or worse.

This is a challenge for all of us. So much of the self-help lingo is about the big picture, knowing where you’re going, and I get that and how important it is. But especially as you get older, I realize that I can’t lose sight of what’s right there in front of me. And neither can you. Until we can see what’s right in front of us, we won’t get where we need to go.