I got my dad the most inappropriate gift for Christmas last year. I won’t elaborate other than saying my 7 and 9-year-old boys (who are obsessed with male anatomy – including the words nuts, balls or sack) thought it was hysterical. I giggled when I ordered it. Laughed when we wrapped it. Snickered as he unwrapped it.
“Kelli!” my Dad said, half-embarrassed, half trying not to laugh as he figured out what it was. “Wait until I show this to my good friend. He already thinks you’re crazy.”
“What? Why?” I asked, still laughing.
“You know, dating a new guy every six or eight months, posting pictures about it on Facebook. He asked what’s going on with you and I told him I stay out of it,” Dad replied.
WELL JEEZE… TELL ME HOW YA REALLY FEEL!
In the moment, I let his comment go because Christmas present opening is not the time to start a debate (or a defense) about Kelli’s dating life. But it just so happens that side bar came about a week after I ended yet another post-divorce relationship.
I’ve thought about my dad’s words a lot in the weeks that followed. To be clear, he was not trying to be vindictive, critical or mean. It was literally an in-the-moment comment about how spontaneous I am. I get that spontaneity honestly, by the way.
But also, I’ve shared TWO relationships on social media… in three-and-a-half years.
Is that a lot?
Do I fall too hard, too fast?
Do I let people in too easily?
Do I put too much out there for everyone else to see?
My best friend would answer yes to all those questions about me. She’s more reserved, more cautious and much more careful with her heart.
“You definitely go zero to sixty pretty fast,” she said, referring to those past two relationships, which lasted a whopping four months and eight months, respectively.
My favorite mentor said the same.
“Slow down, Kel. You don’t need to go all in at the very beginning. You barely know him,” she said over lunch a couple years ago as I gushed about the Uber driver I’d connected with a month earlier and was dating at the time. ”You have time to figure this out.”
Both of them were right.
I’m 36. My career, my finances and my physical and mental health have never been better.
I do have time. I don’t need to rush. I could play the game – take a breath and wait a week before agreeing to a second or third or fourth date. I could not respond to a text right away. I could hold off when it comes to posting about a new relationship on social media. I could wait a year or more to see if a man truly fits into my life before making a spot for him and introducing him to my kids… but why should I have to do any of that?
A few years ago as I tried to navigate why my marriage failed and why life suddenly felt so difficult, my therapist told me I’m a deep thinker who also loves and feels very deeply. She said when I was ready, I needed to look for a relationship with the same type of person who has similar depth and self-awareness so that person could love and understand me in a way that would truly fulfill my soul.
I remember the sense of relief I had when she said those words because she made me feel so normal. In that moment, she articulated something I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out. And I’ve held on to that while navigating this (mostly shitty but sometimes amazing) world of dating as a single mom.
Just so we’re clear, even though I don’t exactly hold back when I feel a connection with someone, I still refuse to settle.
If something is missing, I’m not afraid to politely say, ‘No thank you’ to a second or third date.
If I’m not getting what I need emotionally, intellectually or otherwise, I make that clear and I end it.
If there’s drama, a toxic baby mama or signs a man has serious work to do on his own mental or emotional well-being, I run. FAST.
And here’s why: I’ve done the work on myself. I know who I am. I know what I want.
Oh, and I don’t need a fourth child.
I’ve also learned it’s OK to be deep. It’s OK to meet someone new and give them the very best version of who I am in that moment. It’s OK to go all-in, to fall hard and fast and let my heart feel all of the things. It’s OK to show my kids life can still be so freaking beautiful even though it is sometimes unpredictable and ugly.
Why would I ever want anything less?
Trust me, I know I’m a lot to handle. I also don’t apologize for that. If I’m too much for someone, that’s that’s OK too. It just means we aren’t meant to be.
To that point, it’s OK if you are the type who burns a bit slower. It’s OK if you are more cautious about giving away your heart. It’s OK if you want to take your time before figuring out whether it’s safe or smart to go all-in. We are not all the same and thank goodness for that.
Oh, and speaking from experience: “cautious” and “zero to sixty” people don’t usually mesh well. We’re talking crash and burn. Big fire. Might scar your ego. But that’s OK too.
When you’re an “all-in” kind of person, you don’t dip your toe in the water before deciding to jump. You literally put your hands over your head, take a deep breath and you dive. And you don’t have time or energy to give a shit what anyone on the surface might think.
The other day at the gym, I ran into a former colleague I’ve always adored and respected. We’re both creatives – big thinkers, big personalities, you get the idea. You know how you vibe on a whole different level with people who get you? That’s how my friendship is with Josh. We worked together some 10 years ago then went separate ways, but stayed connected on social media.
So when I spotted Josh standing in the lobby, it was perfectly natural to run up and squeeze him into a giant hug – masks and all.
“Oh my gosh, hi!” I gushed. “You look so good. Why don’t you age?”
“Girl… look at YOU! Lookin’ awesome,” he replied. “Me? This spot on the top of my head is all you need to prove I’m an old man.”
What is it with men and their hair?
I swear, bald spots, receding hairlines and thinning patches are the biggest not-talked-about (but talked about) insecurity with most men 30 and up. And I don’t get it.
I have so many examples of random, off-handed comments from guys about their locks (or lack thereof) when it was not anywhere CLOSE to the topic at hand.
Here’s one I’ve replayed a time or six: A couple years back at the end of a really great date, a guy in his mid-40s thought he was being funny when he said, “I’m old and practically bald and you’re young and beautiful, so we should probably just end it here.”
What was I supposed to do with that?
Dude. You’re super attractive. Your charisma is off the charts. You have a ridiculously successful career and WE just had a fantastic night. So you make a joke about your bald spot!?
Then there was the billboard guy. I almost feel bad writing about him because I know he’ll read this and he’s also such a gentleman… but also, IT’S JUST HAIR!
Our first of three dates happened in early pandemic – maybe late March? We found an open Starbucks and took a nice long walk one Saturday afternoon. It was kind of chilly and he wore a hat. At that point, I had no opinion about his hair.
Second date – we binged Tiger King, ate take out and drank vodka (who didn’t do that in pandemic, by the way?). Super fun night. But while sitting next to him on the couch and chatting, I noticed something about his hair was weird. Couldn’t decide if it was the comb-back or the hairline itself. I mental noted and mentioned it to my best friend the next day,
“Awesome guy, but there’s something off with his hair. More to come.”
Third date – pizza, more vodka and conversation at his place. Somehow we land on the topic of post-divorce self-care and that’s when it alllll came out. His eyes lit up. Then he asked if I had ever seen the Brian Urlacher billboards along the Dan Ryan in Chicago.
“You know, the hair ones,” he added.
“I have…” I replied, suddenly realizing exactly where this conversation was about to go.
“OK, so I did that,” he said, looking super proud.
Oh shit. Don’t laugh. Gotta call BFF and tell her I was right. Now is probably not the right time to call. But oh em gee bite your tongue and Don’t. Freaking. Laugh. in this sweet man’s face.
I kind of had to tune him out for the next minute or so to steel myself. When I zoned back in, he was talking about the doctor who did his procedure.
“…and this is the same guy who actually did Brian Urlacher’s implants. And then he drew on my head with a permanent marker, and then…” this conversation went on for a good 10 minutes. I sat there, soaking it in. Not quite sure how to respond.
Again, super nice guy. Great dad. Incredibly sharp. Stellar career. Yet so concerned about his HAIR LOSS. In the end, the connection wasn’t there for me and I wasn’t about to waste his time or mine. There were no more dates after that fateful night.
Can someone please tell me why men are so fixated on what is happening on top of their heads?
When I ask guy friends about it, they shrug their shoulders and acknowledge it’s simply a sensitive subject. Many of them, by the way, admit they’ve tried or thought about trying pills, creams, shampoos, conditioners, powders, dyes, implants and other methods in an attempt to hide this big secret/not secret insecurity.
When I put my friend Josh on the spot about his unprompted bald spot comment at the gym, he laughed and explained he usually brings it up first because if he’s with a group of guys, that’s one of the first jokes on the table – who has the least amount of hair. He said his in-laws are the same – a bald crack at his expense always flows out of their mouths at family get togethers. So he just gets it out of the way first. I guess it makes sense.
I know what you’re probably thinking. And you’re right. This is absolutely a huge pot/kettle issue because women are constantly obsessing over our physical appearance when it comes to weight, eyebrows, cellulite, stomachs and other parts of our bodies most men ironically love in their natural state.
Now that you’ve read about it though, sit back and wait for it. The next time a man sees a picture of himself and you hear him say, “Ew, you honed in right on my bald spot!” or “This is my good side. It has hair,” you’ll smile. Then hopefully you’ll reassure him about the bald truth… a real woman truly doesn’t care about about a man’s lack of follicular growth. And a woman who does? Well, you don’t want her anyway.
Or just reiterate what my 72-year-old dad (whom I’ve never known WITH a full head of hair) always says: “I’ve never been in a situation where I needed it.”
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...