Recycling Seems Like a Great Idea at First…

By definition, recycle means 1) convert (waste) into reusable material, 2) return (material) to a previous stage in a cyclic process.

The act of recycling in life has a pretty good connotation to it and definitely does good for the earth and for us as humans. The act of recycling in the context of sex is when you sleep with someone you’ve slept with before, and there are benefits that come with this type of recycling as well. For starters, you don’t increase “the number” that you’ve been racking up throughout your lifetime. If you’ve ever seen the movie What’s Your Number? then you know what I’m talking about. Secondly, you should always usually only choose to recycle previous hookups that were good enough to hop back in the sack with. If you are recycling purely for sex, then you pretty much know exactly what you are getting yourself into, and if everything plays out exactly the way it did the first time around, then you got what you expected.

The act of recycling in the context of relationships is different, and I would argue that the connotation is not so great. Why? Well let’s face it, there was a reason the guy ended up in the recycling bin in the first place. Unlike recycling solely for sex, recycling a relationship rarely comes with the similar sense of contentment if the scenario plays out exactly like it did the first time. Usually when you recycle a relationship, you have hopes that the broken bottle you got rid of before has now somehow evolved into a piece of fine china. I am sure there are stories that exist where this actually did happen…

…this story is not one of them.

Enter: the guy from two years ago. Spoiler alert: I recycled him. Had I recycled him just for the sex, it would have been a success story would’ve been fine. However, I recycled for a relationship since that’s what I wanted from him when we ended things the first time, and let’s just say Round Número Dos was a letdown and he ended up in the waste bin.

Problem #1: The Hang Out

After we ran into each other, I took the initiative to reach out to him the next morning and just say it was great running into him. He responded but didn’t ask me out. A week or two later he texted me asking what I was up to… at 1am. I basically told him to take a hike and that if his intentions were to just hookup with me then he shouldn’t waste his time. I had made that clear when I ended things before, and I wanted to make sure it was clear that nothing had changed. He said that wasn’t his intention and he wanted to take me out. “Fine, reach out to me at a normal hour then.” A few days passed by, and he did just that; we set a date for a Friday after work.

When that day rolled around, I was really excited which hardly ever happens before I meet people out for dates these days. I arrived at the bar where we were meeting…only to see him with a bunch of his friends (and no, I didn’t know any of them). Hmmm, well maybe they just all went there together but now he will break off from them for our date. Nope, we got our drinks and sat down with them. Even though his friends were cool and I did enjoy myself, I didn’t agree to a hang out. This was not what I call “him taking me out” this was “me tagging along with you and your friends I’ve never met before.” Thanks but no thanks. (I say that, but yet I stuck around. I don’t make any sense.)

who are these people

Problem #2: First Date Check

Ok, so technically this wasn’t a first date since he had taken me out a few times two years before, but in my book, I was treating this like a first date hang out. He paid for my drinks at the first bar and then we (yep, his friends included) went to another bar for dinner. The bill comes…and guess what? He had left his credit card at the previous bar, so I ended up covering the tab for both of us. I know I won’t be getting any sympathy points from guys here, but the bill was not cheap by any means. I rationalized it because he had paid for all the dates we went on two years prior and the food at this place was absolutely amazing – plus, somebody had to pay and I knew it wasn’t going to be his friends.

im broke

Problem #3: Hot and Cold

Near the end of that same first date hang out, we eventually broke off from his friends and walked around the city by ourselves. During this time, he told me that he knew exactly what he was doing when he asked me out. He said, “I want to be your boyfriend. I want you to be my girlfriend.” I quote him to make it clear that this was not a situation where I just completely misread what he was trying to tell me. No, this guy literally told me those words. His intentions were to be in a relationship with me, and I absolutely loved how straightforward he was being with me. (Side note: had this been a first date with someone I barely knew and didn’t have any history with, then being that openly intense right off the bat probably would have had me running for the hills.).

Naturally, you would think that I’d hear from him afterwards. Nope. Later the next day I texted him saying thank you and that I had a great time with him. He reciprocated his enjoyment but made no suggestions for a next date. Several days go by, and nothing. I eventually reached out to see if he was free that week, but he said he was busy. No attempts were made to make future plans. Confused because of what he had told me the last time I saw him and pissed off because he had gotten my hopes up, I wrote him off. TWO FULL WEEKS passed by, and then one Sunday morning I received a text from him. But oh no, this was not just a casual text. He asked me to be his date to one of his best friend’s upcoming weddings! Completely shocked yet pleasantly surprised and flattered, I agreed. Readers, I know I make no sense and don’t have much right to complain since I walked right into this déjà vu situation that had most of the same problems that were there before, but my rationale was that I knew we would have a good time together, so what’s there to lose?

you change your mind

The story gets better. Stay tuned.


The Benefits of Taking a Solo Trip

This past weekend, I flew out to a different city for a road race and a weekend with me, myself, and I.  Before I left, several people were questioning – almost criticizing – the fact that I was going to be traveling, staying, and spending time with only myself.  “Wait, so you are going alone?” is the common thing these people would ask me in a why-on-earth-would-you-ever-want-to-do-that kind of tone.  Now, people travel by themselves for work all the time, but what seemed to confuse people was why I would CHOOSE to spend a weekend traveling without a companion.  Let me tell you why I did it and why you should consider taking a similar solo trip.

To Get Away
Regardless of how far you actually travel, there are benefits to be gained by simply getting away from your usual surroundings and routine. From more of a mental standpoint, you are able to take a step back from the same schedule, the same environment, the same people. This gives you a chance to gain a new perspective on everything, or, it can help you get your mind off of the same issues that have been rolling around and around in your head. From a physical location standpoint, you literally get away. I think it is important to see new places and remember that there is more out there than the area you live and that there are bigger problems out there than the fact that your date didn’t call you back or that you had to work late twice this week. Plus, sometimes the easiest way to mentally get away is to physically get away. When you are surrounded by the same things day by day, it is hard to remove yourself from whatever mindset you are in that you want to escape. Even if it is just a short drive away to a nearby town, campsite, whatever, the change of scenery can clear your mind and reset the way you see different situations.

prefer my own company

To Treat Myself
The great thing about traveling on your own is that every decision you make is entirely up to you.  You truly get to call the shots for everything you do without the concern for someone’s opinions or personal feelings and without the need for anyone else’s approval or timeframe.  It’s pretty simple: if you want to do something then you can do it, and if you don’t want to do something then you don’t.  Also, since everything you do is on your own dime, you don’t need to deal with judgments if you decide to eat cheap at McDonald’s or splurge at a top-rated steakhouse.  Want to sleep until noon?  Awesome.  Want to go to the art museum?  Done.  Want to go shopping and get a manicure?  Love it.  Want a four-course meal and a bottle of wine? Nothing is stopping you.

ill do what i want

To Have Some Quality “Me” Time
I think it is safe to say that everyone needs some alone time here and there. The difference between hanging out with yourself in your bedroom and hanging out with yourself on a solo trip is that you have to become comfortable with being alone in public. Yes, you could sit in your hotel room all day or hide out in a movie theater the entire weekend, but that would be a pretty lame (and pointless) getaway. I’m sure you have no problem going to the mall and shopping by yourself, so don’t be afraid to get out alone with the same self-confidence (and the same disregard for feelings of self-consciousness) and sightsee, sit by the park, go to a museum, etc. The situation where many people struggle the most to comfortably be without a companion is when dining out. Why is this? One primary reason seems to be embarrassment due to what others think about you. All I have to say to this is who cares? The other main reason is because you feel awkward and don’t know what to do with yourself. I was the same way when I used to travel alone for work and wanted to eat out at a restaurant, so I began by eating at more casual sports bars where there were TVs I could watch as I sat there by myself. Soon I was eating at quieter restaurants with no TVs, but I would bring my Kindle or pull out my phone since I still felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself when I wasn’t shoveling food into my face. Currently, however, I am able sit at a table or bar by myself without any TVs, phones, documents, or conversation. This is something that I think everyone should be able to do: be comfortable being by yourself.  Besides, if you don’t enjoy spending time alone with you, then how can you expect anyone else to want to spend time alone with you?

adore my own company

So whether you are single or taken, guy or girl, I highly recommend you take some time away with the only person who is guaranteed to stay with you for the rest of your life: you.

Don’t Settle for Less Than You Need

I ended up hooking up with the guy from Part 1 throughout the summer of 2012, and it was clearly progressing nowhere towards an actual relationship. I tried to be cool with this concept of hooking up without emotions or attachments, but clearly I suck at that game. I was starting to become miserable – and my friends definitely noticed how much of an effect this guy had on my mood.  Eventually, I came to terms with the situation and how I was feeling about it… and rather than just hoping for the best or letting it die out, I did something about it.

What Do I Want?

Before I could make myself feel better, I needed to truthfully evaluate why I wasn’t happy to begin with.  Clearly, I wanted something that wasn’t being fulfilled, but I needed to recognize it first.  Because I had been trying to convince myself for so long that I was okay being just a hookup, it took me a little while to accept that I just wasn’t capable of being that girl – at least, not with this guy.  Somehow, he had managed to make me like him (or I just managed to confuse my superficial attraction for real feelings), and it became clear that I wanted more than a hookup.  Soon I came to terms with the fact that I wanted more of a commitment; at the end of the day, I wanted to see this progress more towards an exclusive relationship.

wants only me

What Do I Need?

Once I recognized that I wanted a relationship, I needed to figure out what I would need in that relationship if it were to occur.  A lot of these things I already knew (this article actually does a great job of listing out many of the major qualities), but it was a good reality check for me to evaluate my needs in the context of a potential relationship with this particular person who until now had only been evaluated as a hookup.  Basically, I needed to answer this: if a relationship with this guy is what I want, then would he be able to give me what I need in that relationship to keep me happy?  My natural inclination was to make excuses for the areas where I knew he fell short, but then I had to be real with myself.  Yes, there are qualities or relationship expectations that I can live without…but what CAN’T I live without?  What do I NEED, and can this guy give that to me?  If not, what does he need to do to fulfill those needs?  I had already spent too much of my time and emotions on this guy, so why would I want to set myself up for further disappointment and potential heartbreak?

aint nobody got time for that

How Do I Get What I Want & Need?

I think the key here is HONESTY.  Especially with myself – even in the early dating phases. What is okay, what is not okay, and how long and to what extent am I okay with dealing with the parts that are not okay?  Once I figured that out, I was at the point where I needed to be honest with him, and that is exactly what I did.

I called him up and told him that I was beginning to actually like him and was done just hooking up with him.  He claimed that he liked me too, and – whether truthful or not – he said he wanted to see where things could go beyond hooking up.  So that’s where the honesty piece came in: I know myself well enough to know that I will go crazy without communication and that it was a must-have for me.  I told him that I would have no hard feelings if he wasn’t able to give me what I needed and that I would not be mad if he decided to just call it a day and move on.  On the flip side, I made sure there was no mistaking the fact that in order for anything to continue going on with us, I needed to hear from him more often and I needed to feel like I wasn’t “out of sight, out of mind” with him.  It was an open conversation and because I was being truthful and vulnerable by sharing my honest thoughts while not being accusatory, he was able to tell me what he wanted.

So what was it that he wanted?  He said he liked me and wanted to pursue something more than a hookup.  He said that he would call me more often and make more time to see me.  For exactly one week, he was great.  We talked on the phone almost every day, and if not then he at least texted me once (which is really all I needed).  We made plans for me to meet up with him one night, but last minute he said he couldn’t.  Obviously, I was bummed (and kinda pissed) because it was SO last minute.  The next day, I didn’t hear from him.  The following day I asked when he might be free to meet up.  No response.  EVER.

not worth my time

Stick to Your Guns!

Regardless, I just gotta remember what I need and what I absolutely won’t tolerate.  Sure, some things can definitely be compromised, but I know that if I am miserable when a reasonable need isn’t being met, then I shouldn’t make excuses for someone who can’t fulfill them.  It doesn’t make them a bad person; it just might mean that we aren’t the best match in the long run.  In my situation, obviously no relationship was developed.  However, several months later he reached out to me via email, clearly trying to revive something with me.  I responded to his attempt at small talk but then added something along the lines of, “It’s great to hear from you and hope you are well, but if your reasoning behind reaching out to me was to hang out again, then please know that my intentions have not changed.  If you are looking for something more, then you know where to find me; otherwise, I think it is best we go our separate ways.”

what else do you want me to tell you

Obviously, deep down I wanted him to respond back and say that he wanted more, but when he didn’t I knew it was for the best.  Plus, I only made it that much clearer what I was willing to tolerate… which becomes relevant again once we rekindled things in the summer of 2014.