Ask not what your relationship can do for you…

shopping for labels? shopping for love?

When it comes to finding a mate, we all have long shopping lists. We have lists of superficial things we prefer (ex. he should be tall and work at Goldman), of values we want matched (he should like children and vote Democrat), and of qualities we think we need (he should be financially sound and be able to make me laugh).

But let’s not forget what we’re really after when we set out to find love everlasting…

What we really want is a travel companion or biking-buddy, fellow Trekkie or like minded museum-junkie, congenial Scrabble adversary or able party co-host. In short, what we’re really looking for is a teammate.

Everyone knows the cliche “there’s no ‘I’ in TEAM,” and anyone whose played a sport or watched a professional franchise win a championship knows what makes a team successful: synergy.  One person makes up for the short-comings of the other, while both foster and bolster each others’ talents. Yes, a successful team is whole that is greater that the sum of its parts, and love-based relationships are no different.

That being said, when it comes to finding the Misty May Treanor to your Kerri Walsh, or the Jorge Posada to your Mariano Rivera,  it’s important to have a grasp not only on what they bring to the relationship, but also on what you can or can’t provide in this partnership. I’m not necessarily prescribing a selfless “ask not what your relationship can do for you, ask what you can do for your relationship” approach to a new flame — that’s extremely dangerous territory in which to tread. But I do think it a worthwhile exercise to evaluate, as objectively as possible, your strengths and weaknesses as 1/2 of a couple.

I suppose, if I prescribe, I should take the first does:

My greatest strength as both a friend and lover is my loyalty. I’m an excellent and sincere cheerleader who will always be there on the sidelines ready to help you up after a bad game.

My greatest weakness? I want to me my own person. To some (read: a select few), my independent, stand on my own feet, “this is who I am, this is what I want and I’m going to get it”  attitude is attractive. But it’s often my biggest relationship roadblock. I have no doubt that my athletic aspirations and career goals have dead-ended several potentially awesome romances. For a long time, I simply wasn’t available enough to be someone’s girlfriend. Yet, while I may have more time in my schedule for dates and weekend getaways, I still refuse to subjugate my ambitions to those of someone else. Sorry, but I want Glen Lowry’s job, and I’m not going to get it if I have to move to Oklahoma with you.

In coming to terms with my relationship shortcoming, it seems I’ve found the critical, must-have quality on my significant-other shopping list: allows me to be independent.

I guess I don’t sound like too much of a team player, do I? That’s not entirely fair. Compromises will be made by both me and my mister, because at the end of the day, if I get to be my own person, so does he. The challenge is finding someone whose goals happen to be compatible with mine…and I don’t just mean retiring early to a villa in Tuscany.

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Meet Me in the Meat Market

luuuurve in the produce department... so that's how guacamole is made...

I’ve always believed that supermarkets are the best place to play the pick-up game. Bars and clubs are unoriginal, expected, and often bothersome. But a flirtation in the oil and vinegar aisle, on the other hand, is surprisingly refreshing and thoroughly endearing.

You can gather more reconnaissance on a stroll past the cereals than during a 5-minute speed date. How a person moves through the produce section is extremely revealing, and a quick survey of a person’s shopping cart items easily helps you determine compatibility. Plus, there are few conversation starters as effective as a mutual interest in wild sockeye salmon recipes.

Yes, Whole Foods is the new OkCupid.

Today, I found an admirer while stocking on my Stoneyfield Farms maple-vanilla yogurt. There were smiles and waves before we went our separate ways, crossing paths and waving again in front of the wheels of parmigano regiano and the shelves packed with tea. Finally, as I waited in line for my iced latte, I felt a tug at my shopping basket. Before I could turn around, a white fluffy blanket hit my face.

I’ve had some pretty forward advances in my time, but no one’s ever thrown their bedding at me before… at least, not in public. He was pretty serious.

It was then his mother apologized. “He just turned 3. And I thought the twos were terrible!”

“I think I’m a little old for you, tyke,” I said as I handed the toddler back his blankie.

Okay, so it wasn’t the 6′, blue-eyed, dark-haired, wedding-band-less 30-something who smiled at me when I crashed into him while reaching for a head of radicchio, but this toddler dug me. And attention from a cute boy, even if he’s in a diaper, should never fail to flatter.

Next week my local Whole Foods is having a sale on t-bone steaks. I’m telling ya, it’s gonna be the new single’s night…

Technology and Affairs of the Heart

Poor Sandra Bullock. Apparently, she received an apologetic letter from one of Jesse James’ mistresses via fax.

I didn’t know people had personal fax machines any more. Hadn’t the scanner and the PDF replaced them? Clearly, an “I’m Sorry” Hallmark card is passe. Perhaps, a fax retains more sincerity than an email or a facebook message.

The tabloid sites say that James met this Other Woman via MySpace. Remember those days when husbands used to meet stripper mistresses at strip clubs?

I know I’m not the first blogger to bring up the subject, but it’s amazing how technology has changed the way we meet people, date people, and break-up with people. We know we’re in an age of hyper communication. Thanks to our smartphones, we’re never out of touch. Gone are the days of landlines and dial-up modems only (yes, I’m old enough to remember late nights before wikipedia and craigslist). And gone are the days when our only means of meeting prospective significant others involved leaving our cozy apartments.

Let’s think about this…

If we want to find a date/one night stand/long term relationship we can log onto okcupid, match.com, eharmony, craigslist or myspace. We can find those “missed connections” from the subway platform or establish a flirtation through dating site aliases. Maybe we can coordinate a single’s night through a facebook group.

Then we meet someone and exchange email addresses, pins, skype names, or screenames. We go home and become friends on facebook and start following feeds on twitter or blogs on wordpress. We keep in touch/track movements through text messaging, bbming, gchat, AIM, and phone calls. Eventually, we announce that we’re “in a relationship” to the world through an avalanche of statuses.

And then we break up…

The breakup itself can happen through all the above forms of messaging. Apparently, the fax and the post-it note are also modern forms of communicating the end of the affair. In-person is always preferable, but thanks to technology, if that’s not convenient for you, a face-to-face termination can be initiated by video chat. In-person breakups are mandated only by rules of tact.

Then there’s the change of “relationship” status on the social networks followed by the defriend maneuver. Then we have to block his email address and delete him from our contact list.

There are so many things to keep track of… it starts to get a little overwhelming.

Especially for folks like me who, on top of her all the aforementioned “buddy lists,”still insist on keeping an actual hardcopy address book.  A left-click on delete is, in the end, far less messy than whiteout.

Good thing I switched to pencil…

Sorry, I can’t date you. You’re the kind of girl I want to take home to Mother

“The problem with you,” a mother of a guy friend once told me in conversation, “is that you’re not the type of girl guys want to date. you’re the kind of girl they want to marry.”

the glass of champagne in my hand tipped sideways, and a few precious drops fell to the floor before i chug-a-lugged the remaining contents in an attempt to mitigate her revelation. I didn’t really know how to respond. Had she just uncovered the source of all my men “trouble”? Certainly, she had just dealt me a new out for the question “why aren’t you seeing anyone?” She meant her comment to be complimentary — I’m a nice girl, who “deserves to be treated well,” she explained when she saw my jaw drop. Guys my age, despite their other shortcomings, are at least sensible enough to realize that they’re not ready to be in a “grown-up” relationship with a girl “who has her act together.” They don’t want to make girls like me cry.

By the time I got home, I had decided it wasn’t important if I was “one of those girls.” The more important question was: Do guys under 35 really approach women so sensibly? Do they really separate girls they want to sleep with from girls they want to have children with? I was skeptical. Maybe, I’m not giving the opposite sex enough credit.

Indeed, maybe I’m not. Recently, I read an advice column that claimed to shed light on “What it Means if He Doesn’t Call You Back.” It corroborated my friend’s mother’s observation — sometimes guys “go poof” because they meet a girl that deserves more commitment than they’re willing to give. It’s not that the fellas are commitment-phobic; it’s that the girl is the kind of girl they marry, not date.

I then recalled a conversation with Generically-Named-Male-Friend. He told me that within the first 5 minutes of meeting a girl, he  shuffles her into one of 4 categories: one night stand, short-term dating, long-term dating, friend. The “one night stand” category wasn’t a surprise. However, the 2 dating categories, short- versus long- term, were.

But despite these assessments/confessions, my questions remain. Is Generically-Named-Male-Friend an anomaly? Was that column really written by a woman whose girlfriends all tell her that every time her date goes AWOL? Was my friend’s mother’s comment based on a story her son wove when she asked him why he and I weren’t dating? Or, when it comes to girls, do guys use more of their northern brain than we give them credit for?

Fellas, enlighten us. Please.