(Emotionally) Putting Out

Recently, a client explained that she’d decided to *big gulp + deep breath* “put herself out there” in regards to her dating life. Immediately I began to wonder, “WTF does that mean for her?” Hell, what would that mean for someone like me?!? In the age of Uber drop-offs, Tinder hook-ups, and Facebook break-ups, what does it mean for a woman to “put herself out there?” Well, I’ve never been a woman and I’m not going to front as if I have the slightest clue what it feels like to be a single female diving into the deep end of the dating pool, especially within the Me Generation that has a reputation for breaking up via text message. *shakes fist* “These damned, kids!” No. I’ll leave that blog post to someone else to write. I do know what it’s like to be a* Black/Heterosexual/Polyamorous/Male that’s been in the shallow end of the dating pool, wading towards infinity.

*It’s worth mentioning… Categories may shape my experience, but they do not define me as a human being. We all have more dimensions than any several categories.

As a [see above for a refresher on some categories provided to me by society] human, the concept of putting myself out there is interesting. The societal assumption** is that the male is supposed to approach the female in the courting process. “Hey girl! Hit me off with those digits!” “Hey girl! Do you come here often? Let’s go to my place and see if you cum there often!” Well, let’s all be glad that I’ve never been keen on the whole “approach some strange woman in a bar and try to take her home” thing. I’d be getting slapped on a regular basis! Yeah, not my thing. But, wait! If I’m not the Mack of Frama-Lama-Ding-A-Ling, holl’in mo’ game than a referee, then how am I supposed to put myself out there!?

**It’s worth mentioning… That some may view my musings as heteronormative. I don’t think (nor have I ever thought) that heterosexuality is the “normal or preferred sexual orientation.” However, I am heterosexual and I write from my own worldview. My good intention is not to offend. But, we all know what they say about paving the road to hell.

My understanding of the phrase means to let the world know that I’m available and interested in dating and/or pursuing a relationship. Since I’m Polyamorous, I’m currently courting a few people. But, I’ve decided to put myself out there to find a Primary Partner. Two recent conversations helped me to come to this decision.

When my father took ill a few thousand miles away my brother was there to help my mom deal with his deteriorating health. My brother is a single father and he talked about how difficult it is to balance that with watching the slow decline of our Pop. He mentioned how he thought it would be easier to deal with such challenges if he were married. Before he began to explain what he meant, I was picking up what he was putting down. We spoke in agreement about the luxury of a partner that could help with the emotional weight of life. [Update: This happened a few months ago. Pop is doing well and still talkin’ shit. The family and I agreed that it didn’t really make sense for me to come home. So, I call him once a week just to send some love through the phone.]

In a separate incident, not so far away, I was humbled by a conversation with a regular in one of my [Group Exercise] classes. After the class ended, a man walked up to me and introduced himself by name [we’ll call him Jeff]. I found the introduction odd because I had seen Jeff in my class dozens of times. At the time of this odd introduction, it did occur to me that I hadn’t seen him over the past month or so. The introduction got stranger when he asked for my name. Because I know how horrible I am at remembering names, I conceded and we shook hands as if it were a first time meeting. Jeff went on to explain that he had been in a car accident and lost some of his memory. He said, “My wife tells me that I used to come to this class often.” My jaw dropped and I’m sure that I did a poor job of hiding the change in facial expression. The re-introduction made sense and it was an emotional reality check for me. We’ve all heard the gentle reminder to be kind to people because we don’t know what someone’s going through.

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It’s a completely different feeling when you’re faced with the experience of learning what someone else is enduring. At that point, it’s no longer some cliché from a screen, it’s very real. I found myself playing the macabre version of what if after that encounter. What if I lost my memory? Who would help me put the pieces back together? Would I have to give myself a series of tattoos as mementos? It would be nice if I had a wife or a partner to help me with the emotional weight of recovery.

I’ve been adamantly independent since I left home at 18. I’ve certainly had plenty of help along the way. [For all of the friends and lovers reading this that have washed a dish, fed a cat, or just listened to me vent without interruption, you know who you are and I perpetually thank you.] But, with such determined independence I’ve grown accustomed to doing everything by/for myself. The two aforementioned scenarios have acted as stark reminders that, despite preparation, I’m not meant to bear certain types of emotional weight alone. So, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I started using the P[artner]-word again. With this post and two new online dating profiles, I’m officially out there, World!

It’s worth mentioning… I still don’t know WTF “out there” means. I was never hiding or hidden. I’ve never rejected the notion of a Primary Partner. I have certainly had my “Fuck-That-Shit!” moments of angst after a former Partner told me that she’d wait for someone better to come along (that’s not an exaggeration, that’s what she confirmed when I called her out.) But, I’ve always accepted love in my life in the spirit of friendship, aroused physical connections, or both. Now, I’m just showing a profile picture and writing about myself and my ideal her as if I’m shopping on Amazon. [Yes, it feels that weird to me!] So, if you see me on OKC or PolyMatchMaker.com, now you know why. I’m seeking a Polyamorous friend that will be there for me in more ways than I can possibly list. I’ll know her when I meet her.

Special Note: The last time that I had a dating profile was 2010 and I swore that I’d rather stab my eye out with a rusty metal dildo than ever fill out another one of those goddamned “this is why you should pick me” biographies. In my 24 hours back in this online dating world, I’ve noticed that women still do three silly things with their profile pictures. [Before anyone tries to derail this special note, I’m aware that men do the same or worse shit with their profile pics. But, I’m not searching for them, so write your own post about the dumb ass Bro photos. You can also read this post to understand why you will continue to receive dick pics.] 1.) Group Photos. I don’t know what you look like well enough to know which one is you. Furthermore, why is that your default pic? 2.) Faux Diversity Photos. That picture with your one Black friend doesn’t say anything about the diversity in your circle. That picture with the orphans from your trip to Africa also feels shoehorned. 3.) Self-objectification Photos. I understand that your profile states that you’re just here for casual encounters. But, when all of your pics are of your ass or cleavage (with no face) I’m dumbfounded. WTF!?

Back in Parochial school we sang the hymn, “No Man Is An Island” and I’ve often tried to remind my clients that accepting support and love is a sign of intelligence and strength. Strength is a choice and I’ve made the choice to accept the support and love of a partner because I’m following my own advice.

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A Dick Pic Is Worth A Thousand Words

Good Morning Friends! Nothing like waking up to a dick [pic] in your [mail] box, am I right? Regardless of your gender, there’s a chance that you’ve seen a dick pic. In some cases, you may have received one by accident. In other cases, you may have received one with purpose (more on that purpose later). When the subject comes up, the question that I hear from women is “why?”. “Why do [strangers] send me dick pics via Tinder, OKCupid, etc.?” Usually the story goes something like… “We exchanged a few messages and everything seemed cool. Then, out of nowhere, he sent me a dick pic! I didn’t ask for that! I didn’t want to see that! I’m certainly not going to reciprocate! Why did he send that?” Well, ladies, let me start by saying that it’s not your fault.

Generalization Disclaimer: As you read this post, you may find yourself thinking/proclaiming aloud “I don’t do that. My friends don’t do that.” Good for you. Let’s review the word, generalization. “A general statement or concept obtained by inference from specific cases.” This means that if what I’m saying doesn’t apply to you, then I ain’t talking to you. Don’t make this about you.

Have you ever listened to men try to talk to women? It’s like a train wreck. Female friends have (jokingly) asked me about some of my favorite pickup lines to use in a bar setting. I always disappoint them when I reveal that I have none. I’ve never done that whole “go to a bar to pick up women thing”. I have no go-to one-liners. Because of that, I find it both hilarious and depressing when I sit at a bar and over hear the lame attempts of men trying to talk at (not to) women. In general, they just sound like idiot hunters hoping to notch their belts with no concept of social cues. Gentlemen, if she keeps checking her phone, she doesn’t want to talk. If she keeps turning her back to you, she doesn’t want to talk. If she’s eating, let her eat and leave her alone. “Jet! How am I supposed to meet all these pretty womens if I don’t spit game at the club?” Don’t spit. Games are for children. No one can hear you at a goddamned club, stop shouting.

It’s worth mentioning… This post isn’t meant to coach men on how to approach women. This post isn’t meant to coach men on how to snap better dick pics. This post isn’t meant to defend dick pics. This post is meant to answer the question why. This is why women (and men) continue to receive so many dick pics from strangers. This post isn’t intended to pick on men and their poor communication skills. The truth of the matter is that communication is a lost art and everyone is horrible at the shit. Men are poor listeners and have a tendency to Mansplain things. Women are poor listeners and have a tendency to Womansplain* things.

*Womansplain: When a woman answers a question with feelings in lieu of facts. (e.g. “Do we need to make a left or a right up ahead.” Response: I feel like we should go right. ~or~ “Does that cost more than $100?” Response: I feel like it shouldn’t cost that much.) Womansplaining is also in effect when a woman answers the question she feels you are asking instead of just answering the question that was actually asked. (e.g. “What time is it?” Response: The movie doesn’t start until 7:30! [That’s not what I asked you!] ~or~ “Has he been drinking?” Response: We’re taking a cab! [That’s not what I asked you!]) Much like Mansplaining, Womansplaining comes from any gender.

It’s worth mentioning… When I wrote a post of 1,172 words about Mansplaining, it received likes/laughs/in-person kudos/forwards/etc. Before any woman gets butt hurt about what I call womansplaining and decides to write some angry comment about me being sexist and patriarchal blah blah blah, keep in mind that there’s this thing called humor and women are not beyond reproach. If what I wrote about womansplaining upset you, there’s a chance you may be guilty of it and causing challenges to communication with other people. If you’re able to laugh at others, take a moment to laugh at yourself.

With all of the poor communication going on today, technology has only made it worse. When was the last time that you used the phone app and actually spoke words from your mouth to someone else’s ears? Have you ever been texting back/forth with someone and tried to call them only to have them not answer? You know the phone is in their goddamned hands! Have you ever been in an argument/debate on an email chain or comment thread that lasted hours/days instead of talking it out for 10 minutes? These are all examples of communication breakdowns. I once forwarded a GF the power bill and in the email I wrote, “could you please help me to keep the bill lower by lowering the thermostat by one degree”. She told me that my email was rude. Rude? One sentence, with the word please, was rude? Well, the majority of all written communication is misinterpreted because we don’t have the luxury of body language and vocal tone (which are both key elements to delivering and receiving the intended message). Because of that, whatever she was feeling when she read the email also played a part in her perception of my tone. I meant it to be a polite request. But, she felt I was being rude. How could I have avoided that? I could have just said the words with a smile and a kiss in person to avoid any confusion of my tone. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just talk to each other, face-to-face? Yeah, but to quote Ms. Sweet Brown…

Someone once asked me the impossible question of how to end misogyny. In my lengthy answer, I mentioned the importance of genders learning how to talk to each other. Imagine a seminar for men, lead by women, on the subject of how to have conversations with them. Think about how many times men seek the counsel of other men to learn how to pickup women. Think about how many times men feel like they just don’t know how to talk to women and they retreat to their “man cave” to access an online chat room (with other men that have the same claim) to lament on the issue. In order for us to get closer to gender equality, men need to be taught how to communicate with (not just talk at) all genders. In a perfect world, gender sensitivity training would be a part of the curriculum from Pre-K on. We need more than a Sadie Hawkins dance to shake up societal gender roles. But, this isn’t a perfect world and genders aren’t getting any better at communicating with one another.

In a society where we are overwhelmed with sexual imagery, most of us are convinced that our worth is defined by our looks. What do you get when you combine the cocktail of poor verbal communication skills, worse written communication skills (texting shorthand lingo + autocorrect = bad spelling/grammar), and the assumption that the stranger on the other end wants to know our appearance-based worth? You guessed it, you get dick pics. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Look at my dick.

What’s the purpose of the dick pic? My first bit of sexual advice came from my older cousin. He was sort of like a big brother to my big brother and myself. When I was a teenager he told me the simplest way to get a girl to have sex with me. “Man, if you ever want to have sex with a girl, just show her your dick!” He gave no further explanation, nor did I ask. What more was there to say, it seemed simple enough? When I was a teenager, it worked like a charm! Eventually, I became better at communication and no longer had to rely on that gimmick. But, I was constantly chasing the experience of sex with someone new. In that chase, many men consider themselves hunters of sorts. They use their dick pics as bait hoping for a (figurative) bite.

Do I send dick pics? I only send dick pics to two types of people. 1.) Someone with whom I’ve already made sweet love and we’re just flirting. 2.) My (often Lesbian) friends with whom I’ve never had sex because they’ve sent me some pic of their lady parts or we’re just being silly. [Hey! If you can’t send a dick pic to your BFF, why do you even have a timer on your camera phone?]

In conclusion…
~Be prepared to receive more and more dick pics as your online dating life continues.
~Consider removing yourself from the online dating world and re-establish old fashioned communication. Go to a house party and get somebody’s phone number after you make out in the back room.
~Stop sending dick pics to strangers. Only send them to your friends that have asked for the Glamour Shot of your Gonads and the Gangly Member.
~If you must send them, class up your dick pics and send them in the postal mail. That’s right, print it out, use a stamp, and send your dick pics the proper way. Show her that you care enough to send the very best. [And for fuck’s sake, manscape my brothers, MANSCAPE those pubes!]