When my newly single self moved into her own apartment at thirty-three, fresh off an eight year relationship, I did what I thought every self-respecting single woman does.
I discreetly ordered a box of 100 condoms from Amazon.
Was 100 a bit… presumptuous? In hindsight, yes. But at the time I thought they’d be passed out like adderall in the 90s because New York had just experienced its first warm spring day when women show bare legs for the first time in months and male productivity drops to zero.
Apparently condoms are not like adderall. And convincing a 30-something man to wear one takes the same tactical persuasion and manipulation as getting a toddler to eat carrots.
I’m starting to accept the condoms will expire before properly used.
But this brings me my first piece of dating advice…
1/ If single, don’t buy a box of 100 condoms.
I divulged the condom debacle to a few male friends. They cackled. Did I not know the golden rule of condoms?
I thought the rule was to wear a condom. End of rule. (We now know men think of this as a choice, much like feminism, unfortunately.)
No, the rule is you never buy more than a pack of three because condoms are like cigarettes. If you have a pack of cigarettes people will be grateful and bum one. If you have a carton of cigarettes, well, it’s just too much of an illicit thing. Illicit things are best seen in small quantities.
I argued that the condoms weren’t fanned out on my kitchen table like cocktail napkins at your local TGIFriday’s.
Apparently that doesn’t matter, simply having them in your house skews your sex karma. This is why men pick them up three at a time at the local bodega.
2/ Being a single dog mom is not the same as being a single mom but it’s not not the same thing.
If a man has a dog you usually know by their first dating profile pic. Unless he recently caught a fish. Then the dog is bumped down to position two and the fish is put in position one. Because a fish says, “When the apocalypse hits I will feed us.” A dog says, “I’m not a total dick. Dog people aren’t dicks.” And men still think securing apocalyptic food is more important than basic human kindness.
But as a single dog mom I automatically swipe “No” on any man with a dog because:
1/ My dog doesn’t like other dogs and that’s a headache I’m not here for.
2/ How are we going to spontaneously have a sleepover? If we both have dogs (my dog won’t like your dog, trust me, he will barely tolerate you) the first sleepover will involve logistics beyond who has the condom. (Me, obviously. We now know that.)
Logistics for some people are sexy and considered foreplay. Those people are accountants and navigate Excel without meltdowns. Excel is my Oregon Trail. And I die from dysentery.
If you are single and want a dog, may I suggest starting with a goldfish? Then your apocalyptic food is also at the ready.
3/ You do not miss your ex, you just had a bad date.
DO NOT CONFLATE THESE TWO THINGS.
I repeat, DO NOT CONFLATE THESE TWO THINGS.
Okay, moving on.
4/ Men don’t care that your lower abdomen is soft and round.
When I was 23 I was standing at a server station with a fellow waitress bitching about my body when I should have been parading around practically naked. Patrick, a fifty-five year old Irish bar back from Queens, and an institution at the restaurant, overheard us. Through his thick mustache he begged, “You won’t believe me now, but hopefully one day you will. A woman’s body is meant to be soft. There is a strength in that softness that men need and seek out. Please just let your body be your body. It is more than enough.”
I’m ashamed to say I rolled my eyes and dove back into my bitch fest.
But I now believe Patrick’s wise words and thank god because I refuse to spend another minute of my life sucking in my stomach.
Yes, for the 8 men reading this (6 of whom I’ve probably dated), the majority of the female population has taught themselves to suck in their stomachs for 95% of their waking hours. (Part of me wants to believe this is why we have so many digestion issues.)
I have even caught myself sucking in my stomach when I am home alone with my dog.
On MULTIPLE occasions.
What kind of psychopath does that?!
Most of us, actually.
So please trust me when I say, the good men are not disgusted by your lower abdomen. Some actually love it. I dated one guy who claimed it was his favorite part of a woman’s body. (Okay, that is an extreme case but it helps prove my point.)
So every woman reading this right now, I beg you to relax your stomach. And unclench your jaw while you’re at it.
See. Isn’t that better?
5/ Men don’t lie about anything other than their height.
Love, give it a rest, you’re not 5’10” and I think 5’ 8” is a great height. You can do things in bed that Paul Bunyan can’t, exploit that fact. But I’m sorry the same society that convinced women to suck in their stomachs convinced you to walk on your tiptoes. Please give your calves a rest. Also people who walk on their tip toes are weird. Stop doing that.
But really, other than that, men don’t lie about anything else, which is fantastic because this means if they like you, you will know, and if they don’t like you, you will be confused.
You will be confused because you assume they should like you because you are great (and you really are!), so when they show signs that they don’t like you, you’re confused, but you make excuses for them.
Stop making excuses for them. They are telling you the truth in their I-don’t-like-you-actions that you are excusing because you know you are great (and you really are!).
This is not about how great you are (seriously, you are!), it’s about timing and pheromones. Don’t waste your time being confused. There is nothing wrong with you. Move on.
6/ Engaging with your social media means nothing.
“But he watches my stories right away.”
That means nothing.
“No, but like within 5 minutes.”
That means he’s on social media too much.
“Social media is part of his job.”
See lesson 5 about making excuses for him.
If he wants to text you, he will text you. If he wants to engage with you at the bare minimum level of human existence he will watch your stories within the first five minutes.
Do not hitch your wagon to the man that does the bare minimum. You will die from dysentery somewhere in Kansas.
7/ Put yourself at the center of the experience.
I am really fucking happy with my life right now.
And as a 34 year old single woman who was recently the 21st wheel at a party, society tells me I’m supposed to be miserable.
But the thing I learned the past year, above anything else, is that you must be deliciously selfish to be happy.
From sex to dating to friendships, I am no longer performing for the benefit of their experience, I am living for mine and mine alone.
And it’s amazing how much more of yourself you have to give to the people you love when you’re no longer exhausted from sucking in your stomach all day.