How many times have you heard the cliché “it’s more of an art than a science”? I’ve heard it frequently. Whether you’re discussing the dynamics of entering a networking circle or figuring out how to do well in Galloway’s Brand Strategy class, the “art vs. science” response is almost expected. With this in mind, I’d like to discuss flirting or, as I affectionately like to call it, “creeping” (more on the “to commit” part later). What is the art vs. science of creeping? More importantly, what if I were hypothetically applying this information to Stern’s new MBA1s? Clearly, this is all hypothetical. It isn’t like one of my reasons to be a Launch Captain was to facilitate this “creeping” – I only agreed to do it because I love this community, which just so happens to be full of incredibly motivated, intelligent and attractive people, with a disproportionate number of men. As I mentioned in my first column, Stern hasn’t been the hotbed of dating activity for me that I hoped. But, it is a new year! You may be wondering, but I wouldn’t write about my dating exploits within Stern – so if you are scared to approach me in fear of me discussing our intra-community dalliances, fear not. In the famous words of TLC, so I creep, yeah, just keep it on the down low.
Anyway, back to the hypothetical discussion of creeping on new MBA1s. Launch is a great way to meet a massive amount of new people. However, I’ve found myself in a bit of a pickle. I fear that many of the guys I have my eyes on may view me as an authority figure or, even worse, as a mother hen of sorts. This isn’t the way I would like to be perceived. If anything, *maybe* as an MBA2 cougar creeping on the new MBA1 cubs, again, this is a hypothetical. Also, even though I am a year ahead academically, I may or may not be older, which further confuses the metaphor. As I mentioned I’m all about discretion, so I will refer to these new MBA1 cuties as “muffins”, freshly delivered hot goods. I am impressed with all of their accomplishments and I am intrigued to learn more about their relationship status. Single? If not, how “good” is the relationship? Is it long-distance? Do you need someone to talk to about your problems…maybe over a cocktail?
Naturally, going down this line of questioning makes you wonder if there is a formula for creeping. Is it an equation that is comprised of the right number of texts, beer blast conversations or Facebook messages? Is it scientifically proven and tested level of being cute without appearing to have tried too hard to be effortless cute? Or, is it totally $%^&ing random? More of a Jackson Pollock creation that makes perfect sense exactly because it doesn’t follow rules? I have been pondering this lately. In New York, my age (29) isn’t too alarming. It isn’t out of the ordinary to be single in your late 20s. As a side note, if you watched the award-winning first season of Princesses: Long Island, you may think that if you’re single and 27, you may as well just kill yourself because life is over. At least I don’t have the pressure of living at home with my parents as an unemployed single-spinster. Life could be much worse! Anyway, I digress. In this city, I feel much more comfortable in my relationship status (or lack thereof). In Charlotte (my pre-Stern city), I was painfully aware of my singleness with each passing birthday and each invitation I received to attend an engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette party, wedding, or baby shower. Much like Carrie in Sex and the City, I couldn’t help but wonder if I should throw my own party. To all my friends: I love you and have enjoyed buying you presents off of your many registries, but, it doesn’t look like I’ll be purchasing items off my Pinterest Dream Wedding board anytime soon. In order to correct this imbalance, should I advise my friends to please purchase me a gift to celebrate my decision to go to business school? The short answer is No. It would be too weird. But, in my pursuit of meeting new romantic matches, am I not using the right approach? Is there a reason I am receiving invitations to these key-relationship events vs. sending them out? Am I unknowingly sabotaging my own potential for happiness? If you read my last article, you know a date recently asked me if I was bitter. Was there truth (even if a marginal amount) in what he said to me during our awkward date?
This leads me to think about the best way to introduce myself, my best “self” to potential romantic matches. How do I make the right impression if I’m interested in someone as more than a study buddy? How do I not compromise my reputation in a midsized business school program? A full-time population of approximately 800 is larger than some, but not large enough to remain anonymous to escape a dating faux pas. Do I add them on Facebook? Follow them on Instagram? Like their posts? Comment on their photos with #heartyou? There are far too many communication platforms to be accepted or rejected through. Would my friendly invitation to join social networks be perceived as desperate and/or stalkerish? The convenience of social media lends itself to utter confusion. It is hard to imagine dating at this point in my life without all the technology. How would you creep on people if you just had a landline? Remember when you had one phone line and dial-up Internet? Was that the Stone-Age?
On top of all the social media minefields, the merging of your pre-Stern and Stern social circles can be overwhelming. I’ve looked at countless online profiles and met hundreds of new students over the past weeks of Launch and the new semester. Recently, I was walking home and saw a guy that I’m about 90% sure is an MBA1 but I wasn’t 100% sure. That 10% of me feared that I may have sent him a message on OkCupid that has been unanswered or liked his photos on Tinder without any reciprocation. If so, would he think I am somehow stalking him, on the mean streets of New York? I decided an awkward smile would be the best response. He didn’t say anything. Such a mystery! Somehow in a city of millions of people, I manage to have too many chance encounters with people I may or may not have met. This, my friends, is the consequence of creeping. At times, it is unclear where your latest crush will pop up. It may just be while you’re on the massive serpentine line at Trader Joe’s Union Square. Fear not, I will continue to update you throughout the year on my wins/losses in the spirit of the creep. Hopefully it will net out that I will be in a relationship and not in therapy. I want commitment…not to be committed to the asylum of crazy cat ladies.
It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that dating can make you feel crazy. What is normal anymore? Dating has become incredibly casual. Although there isn’t a standard protocol when forming exclusive relationships, it is widely accepted that you tend to “take a test drive” before you purchase the “car.” This makes sense: you want to know what you’re signing up for before you sign up. I completely appreciate that and took it for granted that this was common knowledge. A week ago, I went on what I would consider an exceptionally good first date. He lives on the Upper East Side – an area that may be completely foreign to many Sternies (there is life above 14th Street!). In the spirit of meeting him “halfway,” both metaphorically and geographically, I chose a location I wanted to go to (JBird) that wouldn’t be a pain for him to get to via public transport. When I arrived at the spot, he was waiting outside for me and looked (shockingly) even better than his photos! I was pleased because typically, posted profile pictures are the guy on this best day, not how he typically looks. I understand that because of course I post the best photos I have, but they aren’t misleading. You could pick me out from a crowd. Sometimes when my date approaches me, I wonder if I need to get my vision checked.
The first minutes of the date (the first seconds even!) set the tone for the rest of the date. If you hit it off and find each other attractive, good things typically follow. If you realize your date is 5’8 and not, in fact, 6’0, bad things typically follow. As far as I could tell, he was 6’4 and didn’t have stilts or wedge-sneakers on. I was PUMPED! We ordered our first cocktails and I was flattered when he deferred to my recommendation for a drink. He had read my blog online and complimented my posts. I thought to myself, WOW, this is great! We continued to have a fantastic date and ordered several more rounds of drinks. After about three hours, we left the bar. He walked me to a cab, gave me a hug, and I gave him a kiss (confident but not creepy). He asked when he could see me again. Was this really happening? Did he want to schedule the second date on the first date? I thought this was something of urban legend – but it was happening to me! As my taxi drove me home at an incredibly unsafe speed, I was distracted by my great date and my upcoming second date.
This is the best part of dating – the promise of what could be! He sent texts throughout the week. He knew I loved frozen yogurt (I am female, so, it is almost a given) and asked if I wanted to meet up to grab some. I told him I was tied up with school events and wouldn’t be able to meet until our second date. We kept texting and on Thursday (two days before the anticipated date) he said he was going to look into a place for wine and tapas. He actually said tapas – he appreciated small plates of food! I was getting even more pumped for our Saturday date! A new outfit had been purchased – ish got real! On Friday, I was in SoHo with my brother when I received this text (verbatim):
Him: “Liz, so I was thinking a lot recently about this whole dating thing, and I think we’re looking for different things in life. You are a great girl and I’d really like to be friends with you, but I don’t think I can commit to a long term relationship at this time”
I am in shock and concerned that I had a stroke recently. Did I forget the part where I asked him to be my boyfriend? Clearly, I took the bait and had to respond to this ridiculous text.
Me: What is it you think I’m looking for?
Him: Long term. You seemed like you’re looking for a long term boyfriend material
Me: Ok, well thank you for making this decision for me.
Him: I’m essentially looking for friends or friends with benefits at this time, and its wouldn’t be fair to drag you along
Me: I find it highly presumptuous that you have assumed I want to be in a long-term relationship with you after one date. Good luck in your search for a friend with benefits.
WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED? In less than 24 hours, we went from discussing tapas to him informing me (via text) that he didn’t want to have a committed long-term relationship with me…after one date! Generally, when people start dating, you don’t tell them you just want to be “friends with benefits” as he so eloquently called it. It is widely understood (or so I thought) that people typically need to hook-up before these discussions take place. I was at a loss. I was rejected for something I didn’t even want and offered a benefits package I certainly didn’t want with him. He lacked a certain level of finesse (he has zero), likely because he is new to dating (he has been divorced for nearly one year). This whole debacle, however, made me think about the topic of this article: to creep or to commit. From my experience, there is an order. First you creep, then you commit. My date had the situation all mixed up: he thought I wanted commitment after one date! Had he watched too many romantic comedies? Were the frozen yogurt and tapas suggestions red flags? I shall continue to put myself out there and hopefully I will find someone that won’t break up with me before I ask him to be my boyfriend.
Keeping up the Creeping,