Pretty early on, we realized that our dating lives were going to be a major focus of the show. But we didn’t quite anticipate how the show was going to affect our dating lives.
We’re pushing for full disclosure on Love Bites; being honest, vulnerable, brave and open regarding what we share with our listeners. But some of our listeners are the people we date or want to date! We’re not sure how we’re gonna navigate this in the future, but here’s where we both stand on the conflict now:
When we started mapping out Love Bites, both Ben and I were really single. The show would push us both to date more assertively (dating can be so boring when your life is so awesome already), and it would force a weekly dialogue with each other and our listeners about things gone sweet or sour.
On our first pilot, we talked briefly about first date expectaions and how my not having many led to a second date I’d had planned with a guy. By our second pilot, “the filmmaker” (we’re super original with these nicknames) and I were still dating, and he was well aware of the show. He’s a feminist – I don’t really think I could date a guy who isn’t – and he was super supportive of my work and my goal of brutal and open honesty. He was awesome about it. We did have an honest talk about how he fight feel being spoken about on the show – brutal honesty doesn’t equate with scandal or disrespect, in my book – but he gave me a green light to talk about the most intimate aspects of our relationship, trusting that anything I’d say on the radio was something I wouldn’t be afraid to speak to him about in real life.
By our second pilot, six weeks into dating him, discussing my concerns with Ben on the show led to the filmmaker and I talking some things out when I saw him later that night; things that had been on his mind, too, which the show spurred into conversation! Good good!
Two weeks later, I broke things off with him on the phone thirty minutes before we started our very first live show. It wasn’t planned, and because it was such a real and vulnerable situation, we scrapped what we’d expected to discuss and instead talked through it in the opening segment. It felt good. Listen to the episode and you might get why.
On the next show, I mentioned going on two dates and having a second date planned. The filmmaker listened; he texted that hearing the show made him miss me (and I admit that I was glad of that, because he’s still been on my mind). The following week, though, I kept mum about my own dating. We were focusing on Ben, anyway, but if I’m being brutally honest with myself, it’s also because I don’t want a guy I’ve broken up with knowing how I feel or don’t feel when we’re now not talking; these are things you share with your friends, not your exes.
It seems my problem isn’t going to be when I am dating someone, it’s going to be when I’m not.
I’m really working with owning who I am as a human being. That whole soapbox segment from our second episode is part of that. I believe that people – in all of our dynamic, messy individuality – benefit ourselves and others when we engage in some honest self-reflection and dialogue. This doesn’t mean that you have to always say what’s on your mind – there’s a difference between constructive conversation and naval gazing, right? – but I’d rather be honest and messy than shady and guarded.
At this point, my online dating profile does say “I host a radio show.” If I saw that on someone else’s profile, I’d totally ask them about it. If someone totally asks me about it, I’ll tell them whatever they want to know. I’m 34: I’ve been in relationships, I’ve dated casually a lot, I’ve spent enough time not dating to “work on myself”, and I think I’m at a pretty good point in my life where I want to own who I am, and what I do, with humble pride. The next significant man to come into my life will have to be cool enough with himself and trusting enough in me to be as chill as the filmmaker was with this. And, hopefully, the show will be vehicle for me to keep working at being honest with myself and owning the dating decisions I make.
Wish me luck.
Soon I’m going to have to make a choice that hurts.
See, there’s this woman I’m into. On one hand, she’s so incredibly sexy. I want her, physically, with every fiber in my body, in a way that far surpasses the lust I’ve experienced for anyone in recent memory. She’s also sweet and smart and goodhearted and funny and engaging. In a vacuum, it’s a no-brainer. I’d be going for it! In the real world, however, it’s complicated. Not only are there natural doubts about a number of factors, but it could potentially be quite messy to get involved with her for several significant reasons. In truth, knowing myself as well as I do, that’s probably one main cause of my fervid desire.
But the choice to get involved with her or not isn’t the choice I worry about making. No, that will play itself out, one way or the other, likely in predictable fashion.
The much more difficult choice is whether to keep this vague or to talk about this in detail on Love Bites Radio, knowing she listens to the show and potentially reads this blog! [and suddenly every woman I interact with on a semi-regular basis is wondering if I’m writing about her]
The entire goal of the show is to sort through these types of dating issues, and to share, with brutal honesty, all of the intricate thought patterns that arise, the emotional turmoil, the anxieties, the yearnings, the bold decisions and their consequences. It’s to be unwavering in our truthfulness so that hopefully our listeners can hear a little bit of themselves or someone they know in one of us and learn to understand or accept or love themselves a little more. To feel good about the work I’m doing, I need to offer myself up in that way. There’s simply no point in – or points for – partial-truths. So much could be gained by thoroughly dissecting the situation with this attractive lass and so much may be lost, including my sense of integrity as it pertains to the show, by keeping it to myself.
As an actor, playwright, songwriter and now on Love Bites, I’ve committed myself wholly to the expression of my self-exploration (look out! pretentious artist coming through!). It matters to me. It’s my life’s work. It stands there can be no true expression without true exploration.
Then there’s the other side to the coin: If I do share this situation openly and honestly, I strip myself of the ability to make the choice of keeping both she and I safe from the potentially messy ramifications that are keeping me from pursuing in the first place, which may very well be the right choice under the circumstances. Circumstances that would out me to her, if revealed on the show. And even if I eventually decide that going for it is the right move, I’ll have lost all sense of intrigue and mystery, key components to any courtship or seduction. She’ll have access to my heart and mind, completely exposed before I even make my first move. While I’m firmly against playing games, I believe there’s a fine line between game playing and creating a dynamic that fosters chemistry and attraction. Confessing too much too soon can push even the most ardent commitment seekers away.
And what happens even further into a relationship? What kind of partner am I if I’m sharing the most intimate thoughts and feelings I have about my relationship to my audience before I share them with my lover? So much of what we uncover on the air is discovered in the moment. Our talks are the conversations you have with your friend when you’re deciding how to handle a situation in your relationship and you’re learning as you go. Do I want my significant other privy to that? Am I really taking care of her and honoring our relationship if she’s the last to know, or she’s hearing it along with the rest of the world, instead of from me first, privately? Do I really want to subject her to the full extent of the hurtful thoughts I might sometimes experience about her and need to share with a confidante?
I don’t like the answers to those questions.
One of the greatest challenges I face in life, is the absurd, unrealistic, impossible standard of integrity I hold myself accountable to and lacerate myself for inevitably failing to meet, time and again (we’ll be diving more deeply into this on this upcoming Monday’s show). If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it fully, perfectly, or it’s worthless. I’m worthless. In this instance, I can’t do both.
Soon I’m going to have to make a choice that hurts.
I can be the perfect, plainspoken all-cards-on-the-table host or be the perfect partner/wooer.
Or I can make the choice that hurts most: The choice to let go of perfection.