If you remember, I started all this dating around, and by dating around I mean just putting myself out there (I don’t actually go on THAT many dates) because I was concerned about my heart. After a long period of not dating, I went on a date with one great guy who after one good date and a last minute request to see me again, simply disappeared. Turns out when I asked him what was up that he’d found someone else, which is totally cool. What isn’t as cool is that in this world of fast and furious online dating, he didn’t take a minute to tell me. Still I was happy for him, and I didn’t do anything but blink when he said we had missed our window….It was obviously a very tiny dollhouse sort of window.  Blink blink, next.

Next, in waltzed Ground Zero, and knowing that he needed to be untethered, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to cope with dating him…I either go all in or I’m friends with you-know-whatefits.  So with that settled, and my heart protected, I thought I was good. And I am good. But it’s a different good than I thought it would be.

I thought I could explore my feelings for Ground Zero from the safety of the friend zone. I made it clear that I wasn’t ruling anything out with him, as I honestly believed that in a different time and place we could be good together. Still I was one hundred percent clear that now wouldn’t be the time. I viewed dating as a kind of distraction, so I wouldn’t get all hung up. But I thought my feelings would develop if there were any there to develop.

You have to realize that I can get hung up on a guy in a picture in a magazine, on a musician who writes really good lyrics, on the mere IDEA of a man.  I can crush hard. I can be reduced to a stupid swooning puddle of mush if I’m allowed to focus on one person. And with internet dating, that just won’t do. Even if I met the perfect person and that perfect person were ready to sail into the sunset, you can’t rush in when you are plucking someone out of thin air. You really have NO IDEA what lurks beneath the surface.

So….the fact is that Ground Zero just isn’t very good at tucking me in. I don’t think it is on his radar and it’s clear to me that he probably doesn’t get the side of me that likes to know when and where to stand. I have not hesitated to call him on it when he makes vague, ambiguous statements. Like…I had offered to bring him dinner after a procedure he was having and he said, “That’s sweet. I’ll keep that in mind.” Ding ding ding! Um…no you can’t keep that in mind, because I don’t work that way  (unless I know someone well,…then I can be very flexible and wide open but that is entirely different)  If you are getting to know me, you can say yes or you can say no, but you can’t just “keep it in mind” like I’m a switch that can be flipped at will. I’ve told this story to three women and all of them have had the same reaction – ouch! None of us like to be kept in mind.

Nevertheless, I called to wish him a happy procedure because I know in my heart that he isn’t as cold as he comes off. Also, he explained that he wasn’t sure how he’d be feeling  and that’s why he didn’t say yes or no, which made perfect sense.  But now, today,  he hasn’t so much as texted to say he’s alive and that he survived his thingy…and this is an actual strike in my book. I think he’s ok because he liked one of my posts, but friends don’t let friends find stuff out on facebook. Especially not friends who intermittently show their world to you.

I hand out strikes like candy if I like someone and think they mean well, so it’s no biggie. It’s that old Brad Pitt missing chip thing, and guys are guys blah blah blah. .

I  admit that it’s hard to know the rules when there are no rules. It’s just funny that most women know the rules even when there are no rules and a lot of guys assume that when there are no rules,  there are no rules (hint: there are always rules). I know it’s sexist, but chicks have superpowers and keeping our ducks close is something we do well, and rather naturally. And following a few basic rules is how we do it….touch noses, let the other person know what you’re doing and what to expect – it’s actually quite cinchy.

Meanwhile,  there is someone I’ve been texting for almost a month. Just a little here and there, but it has a sweet rhythm to it and it just keeps getting better. We’ve talked a couple of times on the phone, but any discussion of meeting up scatters like a dandelion when push comes to shove.

Today texting guy whipped me into a frenzy. In all fairness I instigated it…but he was with me text for text. It all became sort of dreamy and perfect until I remembered that we both don’t have our kids this weekend, that I asked him to let me know when he could meet up, and that we have no plans to do so.

I have no idea what’s up with him, but he certainly isn’t straight-forward. I would like to think he is crafting a slow, hot burn and that it will all unfold when the time is right. And it might. I would really like that. But I know it’s just as likely to disappear – poof! It’s like I’m reading a romantic novel and I’m in it, but it’s only a story, and when the book is closed I know I’m gonna wake up in bed with my dogs.

I could fall for Ground Zero and I could fall for Texting Guy. I have a big open heart and I can feel stuff with it. But when it’s reduced to a game of cat and mouse, when at the end of the day there is no pretense of saying good night, it is remarkably easy to feel absolutely nothing for anyone.

I’m not sorry I’m in the game, but there is a big difference between playing a game and falling in love, or in having any feelings at all. And here is what is interesting. I feel like I’ve earned some kind of dating badge…..I no longer develop feelings for people just because I happen to like them.  The person or people I hang with end up being those people who can be clear, who can make a date and who don’t leave me in some kind of limbo when all I have asked for and all that I need is a little bit of clarity here and there.

I don’t have plans to see Ground Zero (we were supposed to babysit together but he forgot to tell me that he had his procedure that day until I sent off a hello, and even then I don’t think he remembered…), I don’t have plans to see the guy that made every cell in my body vibrate today.  All my plans this weekend involve actual friends. The ones I can make plans with. The ones I can call. The ones who call me.

Meanwhile and man-wise, I’m not putting all my eggs in two baskets. There is a feisty Irishman I thought I would have brunch with Sunday only he got a little too spicy and woke me up yesterday with a picture of himself in bed so I had to give him the boot. There is a guy who looked kind of chill but now that we are interacting he talks all weird and references Cesar and sh*t.  One of his texts that arrived out of the blue was so random that I texted  back “Hey, was this meant for someone else?” It read:  “You are a wielder of great magic. We who are about to die salute you.” Gah, wha???? There are  messages I haven’t gotten to,  numbers exchanged and promises I’ve made to call but haven’t yet, new profiles to be discovered,  and conversations that haven’t really gotten off the ground but that deserve a second look. It’s pretty much raining men. And by “men” I mean phantom messengers, placeholders, interesting personalities to get to know, lonely souls, horn dogs – you name it.

I used to be the girl who would sigh, and crush on one guy forever…..never mind the likelihood of anything ever coming of it. I just would imprint like a little bird and that was that. And that got me in a whole lot of trouble, because attraction, attachment and nice smelling armpits do not a relationship make.

Now, it’s more like this. I am definitely meeting men that are objectively great. It’s all fun, but until I hear the words “I’ll call you tomorrow.” or “Are you free next Sunday” my heart and every sweet emotion that comes with it is staying deep undercover. I am NOT searching for a relationship. But I would like to be able to trot out a feeling or two and I don’t know if it’s in the cards right now.

Maybe I’m just feeling meh, maybe I’m crashing after having my head in the clouds all day, but one thing I’ve learned is that it is entirely possible to keep from falling in love no matter how cute, funny or amazing a person mightlove1 be. For a girl that has always worn her heart on her sleeve, it’s kind of liberating.

Datergirl, hugging her dogs and saying good night.