How To Say Goodbye

“I have to go.”

Why are those words so hard to say sometimes?

Occasionally I’m on the phone and have to get off for whatever reason. Sometimes I really need to go to sleep because I have work very early in the morning. Other times I have to do work right then- maybe I’m in the middle of packing for a trip or doing my taxes or getting ready to go out.

I’ve never gotten much better at cutting off long conversations gracefully, even though I’m in my 30’s. I still find it super difficult.

If I was talking to someone I didn’t really like, then it’d be easy to get off the phone with them. I’d wait for the quickest pause, and then interrupt with ‘I’m so sorry, I better go to sleep because I have to wake up at 6am tomorrow” or “Sorry, I’m going into a subway tunnel,” or whatever. But why would I be talking on the phone to someone I didn’t really like? Usually, I have the opposite problem- I’m talking with somebody that I really DO like, and I know I have to go, but I don’t really want to. However, I’m getting more and more anxious about the time. Then I can barely concentrate on a conversation I really like, because I’m distracted by when I need to end it, and I don’t really get to enjoy the end of the talk anyway. And then I’m late.

This happens to me in person too. Sometimes I know I have to be somewhere or do something, but I’m just having the best time hanging out with someone. Then it starts getting later and later and anxiety creeps in. I’m worried I’m going to be late somewhere and I get distracted and can’t enjoy myself as much.

I wish I was better at figuring out these situations. Not only am I fighting myself with my obligations versus fun friend time, but I’m also worried about hurting another person’s feelings by cutting them off in the middle of a great conversation.

Jane, my lovely co-blogger, is way better at finagling this than I am, so I ran the issue by her. Even though I’ve experienced her gracefully end conversations with me numerous times because she had to run, she told me that even she feels like she has major problems here and feels anxious about it.

I’m trying to recount how she, and other friends of mine, are able to end conversations so tactfully and without hurting my feelings. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Find the quickest pause and then start with something nice.

In order to end the conversation, start with telling the other person how much you’ve loved talking to them so far. For example: “This has been so great, …but I have to get home and pack or I’ll get no sleep. I’m so sorry!”

2. Start the conversation with an end in mind.

If you know you have to end at a certain point, preface with that. For example, “Just so you know, I can’t talk too long because I have to pack for my Tahiti trip tomorrow. I apologize!” (Darn those Tahiti trips.)

3. Make a new plan

You can always end with a raincheck. For example, “This was great. Sorry I have to run…maybe we can catch up again tomorrow? You around?”

That’s all I’ve got. I’m going to try implementing these strategies and see how I feel. What do you guys think? Are you good at ending conversations gracefully? Do you worry about hurting others’ feelings? Or missing out on something great?

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What the hell, Tinder?! Blatant Ageism Towards People Over Thirty in the Online Dating Sphere

Tinder recently introduced a form of “surge pricing” for its famous dating app. They’re now charging American singles 30+ years of age twice what those under 30 will pay. The app will be $9.99 for those under 30, and $19.99 for those 30 and older.

In the UK, Tinder will charge the 28 and older single crowd more than FOUR times the cost for younger generations. Converted from pounds, this comes out to around $23 compared to around $6!

The price change comes as Tinder introduces it’s new Premium upgrade, Tinder Plus. If you use the free version of Tinder, it will still be free…for now.

Tinder can get away with charging whatever the heck it feels like because it’s owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, which controls 27 percent of of the $2.2 billion dating-services industry. Included in IAC’s portfolio are Match.com and OkCupid. Heard of them?

Although I’ve personally never used Tinder (well, I’ve swiped through on a friend’s app), this price surging strikes me as blatant ageism. It’s discrimination pure and simple! Isn’t it difficult enough to be over 30 and single? Does there really need to be a dating app pointing out that you’re too old and therefore not as valuable to the online dating scene? There’s already a shameful age bias to being single over thirty – does Tinder really need to add to it?

Although it’s TINDER afterall, and you might expect them to pull a dick move like this, it’s still making a pretty awful statement. Tinder’s singling out older daters…just because it can. Even TechCrunch wrote an article titled New Tinder Charges Whatever It Wants. They say, “older users, who theoretically have less supply and offer less demand, pay a greater amount for extra dating tools.” Tinder’s excuse is basically that it’s courting the younger crowd, who “are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger.

I get the idea of this excuse (younger people are poorer), but the policy still sends a crappy message to quite a large group of “older” singles (who aren’t old at all). Plus, people in their 20’s aren’t necessarily poorer than people in their 30’s anyway. And the excuse just seems like a blatant marketing lie. Wired magazine says, in their article titled Yes, Tinder’s New Pricing is Ageist Pure And Simple, “why not just be honest: Tinder is charging us more because it thinks we are desperate. Desperate to find our last chance at love and willing to pay whatever it takes.”

I’m hoping that singles over 30 boycott the Premium Tinder until this price difference is adjusted. Possibly, we should boycott Tinder altogether for making such a biased statement. Hopefully Tinder gets the message and comes up with a middle ground price that’s equal for all ages.

Do I think this is likely? Nope. Do I think dating in your 30’s is fair? Nope. But one can dream.

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Being Single on Valentines Day in Your Thirties

This is the first time in 8 years that I’ll be single on Valentines Day.

And now I’m 30- an age where I watch many of my friends not only go out with their significant other for V-Day, but also get married and have (multiple) babies. I watch relationships bloom all around me, like the red rose bouquets popping up everywhere this time of year.

Is this familiar to you? Are you in your thirties and single and wondering what this holiday means for you..if anything? Are you single on what Hallmark and others call ‘the most romantic day of the year?’

Last Valentines Day, if you told me I’d be single this year, on this day, I might have cried. Correction- I would have most definitely cried. I would have wailed. I would have said ‘oh god, what am I going to do? What’s wrong with me? How can I prevent this from happening? How am I going to fix this?’ I would have felt lost. I would have felt desperately alone.

I can put myself right back into that mindset: lost, alone. That thought pattern still comes and goes in waves. I know exactly what it’s like to cling onto something, to clutch onto a belief that doesn’t feel true anymore or bring happiness anymore, for fear that there’s something even worse out there.. something way more scary: the unknown. And being alone.

Yet here I am. The unknown has arrived. It’s Valentines Day eve and I’m 30 and I’m here and I’m single.

And I feel… happy.

It’s a warm, glowing feeling- subtle. Soft. Unexpected. There’s something different about this happiness- there’s a strength in it. It’s a flaming ember in my chest that feels clearer than ever. And I don’t feel alone when I thought I’d be the absolute most alone in my life.

And I get what it means when people say to face your fears and jump into the unknown: sometimes the unknown is better than the desperately unfulfilling familiar. Or the known that doesn’t work for you.

So I’m embracing being single on Valentines Day! I’ll shout it loud and clear: Who cares that I’m 30 and single? I’m also 30 and happy!

So if you’re single on Valentines Day and you’re in your thirties, who cares? It’s okay! In fact, it’s awesome!  You don’t need to be in a relationship to claim Valentines Day as your own. Needing to be in a relationship in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 20s (any age) in order to be worthy is a ridiculous myth! You’re already extremely worthy!

So give yourself some love this Valentines Day. Buy yourself flowers, get yourself wine, take yourself to a movie, hang out with friends, or hang out alone!

Or if you don’t feel happy that you’re single- that’s okay too. Claim it! Have an Anti-Valentines Day party! Or ignore the day and sit home and watch Netflix all night- there’s some good stuff on.

And discover micro-moments of love and connection that can happen all the time– with total strangers! The linked article above talks about how “true love is not contained to long-term romance, but can happen in an instant, between anyone.” Or anything! It can even happen between you and nature- your surroundings. Go ahead- fall in love on the bus! Enjoy love throughout your day without saying a word! And send love to others! You’re never alone. Really.

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Best Things About Being In Your 30s- The Lists

Ah, the ubiquity of Buzzfeed lists…love ’em or hate ’em, they’re all over Facebook and Twitter, and links to them seem to pop up everywhere. But are Buzzfeed lists (or lists along those lines) just click bait, or can they actually tell us something about our lives?

Jane and I are always looking for lists of descriptive thirties traits, findings and meanings- anything thirties related really- and when we do searches for the thirties, invariably there’s a Buzzfeed list or two right on Google’s front page. So today I read through a Buzzfeed article titled “27 Underrated Things About Being In Your Thirties.”

As I read through a list of statements and memes capturing those statements, I started to feel more and more confused and anxious..mainly because everything seemed so perfectly tied with a big red bow, and my life didn’t seem to be where it should be compared to the list. My god, it’s Buzzfeed! BUZZFEED! Buzzfeed shouldn’t make you upset!  But yet, dammit, it did.

And it wasn’t just me! The comments below were achingly funny and painful..starting with someone saying, “This made me feel a whole lot worse about my life.” Which was followed up by 186 likes and a whole lot of agreement, including “You are not alone, friend. I’m really depressed now about everything every other 30-something is having/doing that I’m not” and “I’m 40, and most of this just made me want to crawl into a hole and die.”

So below are some of the statements that stuck out at me. Try not to want to crawl into a hole and die. You’re not alone, friend 🙂

3. Chances are that you’re making more money now.

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I’m making more money now, yes, but I know a lot of people who aren’t, and this statement still made me nail-bitingly nervous.

4. Which means you can afford actual furniture that’s not from Ikea.

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What? ALL my furniture is from Ikea! Ikea is AWESOME! (Ok, IKEA isn’t awesome, but it is frigging CHEAP!) And what is that Soho loft pictured above with the vintage-chic walls and exposed brick? I mean, come on now!

8. You give zero fucks, so you dance however you want!

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Umm…not yet at that ZERO fucks stage…maybe LESS fucks? And me dancing however I want wouldn’t be good for anyone..

10. At work, you’re not some assistant bitch anymore, you’re a BOSS.

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Though I know people who’ve climbed the career ladder and match this description..I also know lots of people who are assistants, or who still aren’t sure about their career yet.. I am not necessarily a BOSS, though I am self-employed, so maybe this fits me more than I believe..I can play around with it..

12. Any dating you do is less messy, because you know what you want and you demand it.

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Umm, no?

13. And you wind up in much healthier relationships.

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Hmm…this one just feels presumptuous. Also, this is such a random photo! You think it’s the author? Are these people two random celebrities I don’t recognize?

17. You’ve found a group of friends who are the most amazing people you’ve ever met.

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Also a random photo. And I think the author got this idea from a Sex and the City binge…in fact, this photo should’ve been Samantha and Charlotte and Carrie and Miranda. The thirties are where I hear the most gripes about LACK of friendship. People are all like ‘where have my friends gone??’ Umm, babies, marriage, moving, high-stress jobs, people giving ZERO fucks…these things steal friends…

24. You’re no longer afraid of change…

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Damn it, change is STILL the the boogeyman in the closet for me! The people who aren’t scared of change don’t know the horrors of when it jumps out and grabs you! It’s so big and bad and mean sometimes…

I’m only sort of kidding here… but change still = mucho scary.

But all jokes aside, when it comes to figuring out what the thirties are to you, I want to just say: Beware of Buzzfeed lists! And stereotypes! And bragging disguised as positivity! And funny memes that are actually bragging disguised as positivity hidden in sadness wrapped in stereotype! (As fun as they may sometimes be.)

Being Kind To Your Friends’ Relationships

As I moved into my late 20’s/early 30s, many of my friends partnered up, settled down and/or started families.  It simply comes with the thirty-something territory. When our close friends get involved with someone, it can be tricky to navigate the new dynamics – do we like our friend’s partner? Do we feel they are the right fit for our friend? In the beginning, we may analyze the new guy or girl and his/her actions, read their texts, and basically become a sounding board for our friend. But as the friend’s relationship with their new partner deepens over time, we usually step aside on the analyzing and discussing because their relationship has reached a different stage.

Eventually though, relationships will hit rocky patches. It’s inevitable. And here’s what I want to talk about today. Too often, when we gripe to our friends and acquaintances about our relationships, they try to support us by saying things like, “Are you really happy?,” “You can do better,” or “You deserve someone who fits you 100%,” and “Don’t settle.” It’s a natural instinct, right? To help our friends by pointing our that they are Queens and deserve only the best.

Here’s the thing: I believe that while these comments can seem supportive, in many cases they may be more harmful than helpful. Clearly, if your friend is in a terrible relationship where she feels belittled, disrespected, or scared – then yes, you want to help your friend realize she’s in a bad relationship. And of course, any good relationship should be one in which you’re with someone who you love and who loves you, who respects you, who supports you, and also fulfills whatever deep need you may have for your particular loving, intimate relationship.

But, a lot of times I think we should remind our friends that relationships involve work. They are not all work, of course, but there’s a healthy amount of learning to communicate with a new person. I really believe that a lot of people give up too soon. It’s hard to find someone you click with. And at the end of the day, you’re not going to find 100% of what you want in a relationship. Show me someone that says they’ve found that, and I’ll show you someone who’s not very self-aware. I believe you should enjoy and “click” with your partner probably something like 80% of time.

I got to thinking about all of this when I read an article yesterday, and before you read the title and say “Oh no, he didn’t…” – I suggest you give it a read.  It’s titled “The Good-Enough Marriage.”

The author cites a fascinating study about happiness in marriages and the use of social media:

“In a study in the February issue of Computers and Human Behavior, the authors noted that those who didn’t use social media sites at all ‘reported being 11.4 percent happier with their marriage than heavy social media users. And heavy social media users were 32 percent more likely to think about leaving their spouse, compared with 16 percent for a nonuser.’ “

This is all to say that input, from social media, friends, etc. can be dangerous. It can make us doubt ourselves, doubt our feeling, experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) because we think we’re not in the ‘right’ relationship.

So what can you do to be kind to your friends relationship? Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of this article says it best here:

“Remember that when we offer comfort by belittling someone else’s spouse, we do damage to their marriage—an entity that we did not found, and one that exists independently of each. The temptation to do this is very strong (and often fed by one of the spouses). I myself am guilty. To be sure, some marriages must end—but not so many as we’ve witnessed.

Second, be gentle…We do harm when we fail to esteem others’ unions, fragile though they may be. Praise those aspects of others’ marriages that merit it. A bruised reed we ought not break…We forget that marriage is bigger than two people—two frail lovers. It is about sacrifice. It is your own project for the world.” – Mark Regnerus

Beautiful words. I’ll definitely try and be more open-minded when a friend tells me about their relationship woes. And also take advice given to me with a grain of salt.

Making Friends When You’re in a Long Term Relationship

Let me preface all of this by saying, I love female friendship. I’m kind of obsessed with it, actually. From the popular Sex and the City and Golden Girls to the less well-known Walking and Talking and Heavenly Creatures, I’ve seen EVERY movie and TV show about female friendships. Maybe it’s me being an only child and craving siblings, but I find these friendships to be deeply sustaining and life-affirming.

But I realized that since I’ve been in a relationship, about five and a half years, I haven’t made many super close girlfriends. I’ve made a lot of acquaintances, but not as many really close pals. It might simply be more challenging to meet new friends in your thirties, or it’s just plain harder when you’re in a serious relationship. Most likely, it’s a combination of both of these things. But for me, there’s one more element that I think is a factor.

Talking about boys.  In high school and college, I bonded with a lot of my friends by talking about boys and dating. I don’t feel like less of a feminist for saying that I love talking about these subjects, because I enjoy talking to my female friends about other subjects too. But one of the ways I bonded with new female friends was over men. This may just be my personality, because I was the girl who ALWAYS talked about her crushes or my fear that I would never meet that special someone.

I think it touches on something deeper, though. Talking about love and dating is really intimate; it’s not just superficial talk. You expose yourself, share your hopes for the future and that’s vulnerable. When I would share a story about my crush with a new friend, most of the time, she would share her own romantic adventures with me, and often, a friendship was born. I suppose I could share stories from my relationship now, but honestly it would almost feel like a betrayal to share anything negative about my relationship to new friends, since we’ve been dating for so long.

Now I feel like I’m more of a listener, and less of a contributor to these conversations about dating, and it makes me a little nostalgic for the old days. I don’t have stories involving crazy dates, or the drunk dial from the ex I still care about,  or the cute co-worker who I kissed once…And since I met my boyfriend before the boom of Tinder, I’m bummed that I can’t share my own adventures in swiping left and right.

But I guess you trade one thing for another. I wouldn’t want to go back to dating lots of new people just for the stories I could share with my new girlfriends. It’s about finding fresh meaningful ways to connect with recent women friends….quilting, anyone?

How To Be a Third Wheel

The other day I went to a Barbecue in upstate New York. It was hosted by a close friend of mine and her boyfriend. When I got there, my friend said to me apologetically, “you’re going to meet a lot of people you don’t know.” What she didn’t mention was “you’re going to meet a lot of people you don’t know…and all of their significant others who you also don’t know.”

Once I went inside, I figured out that everyone at the BBQ was either married or engaged. And I felt very, very single. And very much like a third wheel.

This made me want to hide.

This made me want to hide away. At home. Somewhere inside my hoodie.

I didn’t realize that married and engaged couples would become the majority once I turned thirty. When I was in my twenties and would go to parties, I seem to remember a fair mix of singles and couples present. I also remember lots of alcohol being thrown down, and lots of stumbling home at 3am…or later. Was it a different world back then? After the BBQ this month, I caught the Metronorth back to Queens at the wee hour of 7pm (!)…with a nice newlywed couple who held hands as they told me the story of how they met.

To be fair, I was half of a couple for just about the entirety of my twenties…a serial monogamist from 21 to 29. And I basically saw the world of my twenties through ‘couple-eyes’ (yes, this is a thing)…which for me then meant: half of a couple = the definition of who I am.

So I didn’t totally get the whole third wheel stigma thing.

When I was part of a couple, I actually loved hanging out with single friends. I mean, it was fun to double date, but when I had a single friend hang out with me and my boyfriend at the time, I loved it just as much. All I wanted was for my friend to feel welcome and comfortable, single or not. A third wheel has this strange solo definition- they’re an extra piece- suddenly we have… a tricycle? A whole new entity. But that entity doesn’t have to be bad. I never thought it was bad before.

Of course, I very much understand the third wheel stigma- ‘couple-alone-time’ is important (as much as regular alone-time)- and a third person tagging along uninvited to a date night walk along the beach would probably not be the best. But the key word here is ‘uninvited.’ When you’re a third person invited along with a couple, you’re not a tag-along, you’re a guest. You’re a friend.

But when I first became single again, a few months ago, I didn’t feel like a guest. No matter how much a couple tried to make me feel included, I felt like I was invading their space and time. I felt like a lonely half who needed another. A missing piece. An extra part.

It took me awhile to remember how much I enjoyed hanging with single people when I was half of a couple…how much I wanted them to NOT feel like third wheels. It took me awhile to remember that they weren’t third wheels to me then…I saw them as full people- totally complete on their own. It’s weird how hard it is to see yourself the way you see others. Why would a couple be better than a single? What does that even mean?

I didn’t end up having a bad time at the barbecue. I’ll admit, I felt sad at first…wistful for coupledom. But then I started to have fun, once I settled in. I began to ask questions. I talked to my friend…and her boyfriend. I relaxed and ate barbecue. And I started to let go of looking at myself as an extra. I listened to stories… how couples met, where they lived, what they did. I enjoyed my ride home on the Metronorth with the newlyweds, who had a great first-meeting story and were both super nice. And I stopped feeling like a third wheel. And I stopped feeling alone. I didn’t feel like half a couple. I just felt like me.

 

 

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