Divorced after a 17 year marriage, I plunged back into the dating scene to find that when it came to men I was lost. Misguided. Confused. What did this mean to be lost? It meant that I dated from a murky, wreckless, and shameful place. A place in which I seemed to lack mojo. Self-esteem. Dignity, attracting men lacking emotional conciousness, decent communication skills, and whose words and actions NEVER matched. Lost? Me? Ugh. This truth was difficult to swallow, especially when I thought I had come so far, graduating as I had from the days of the “hook up. But twenty years older and one divorce later, I quickly discovered that when it came to finding love, I was frustrated by my inability to attract the love I deserved, despite my intelligence, reasonable good looks and success in so many critical areas of my life.
And thus, despite my outside fantabulous-ness, I couldn’t seem to shake those dating rituals that produce the same result – falling crazy in love with a man who was emotionally unavailable and worse yet, six months down the road, I was still putting out yet no closer to commitment. What’s more, these men, known as “Hunters,” seemed to be spending less time with me, dates turned into nothing more than last minute DVD nights at his place (a shabby apartment too far from my neighborhood) and despite the fact that he had told me point blank he wasn’t ready to commit, I believed whole- heartedly that perhaps, if I became what he wanted, it could change. I spent most nights, however, wondering, “What have I done wrong?” “Why….why won’t he be my boyfriend?”
For example, back in my Lost Girl (LG) days, I was a master at the “Intentional Leave Behind, a Lost Girl tactic in which one dubiously leaves a personal item such as lip-gloss, an earring, or favorite sweater in his bed sheets, bathroom, or nightstand as the perfect reason to contact him hours later. Not sleeping with him yet? No worries. This former Lost Girl once deviously removed the ATM card from its place in my wallet, dropping it effortlessly between the console and passenger seat of his car. Oops. Intentional Leave Behind.
I was also a Ninja Lost Girl, kicking serious butt as I made “Target Acquisitions” a feat in which I purposefully acquired his possessions, their value steadily increasing in size and importance as a metaphor to represent acquisition of the guy himself. There was no trick I did not have in my Lost Girl arsenal, including the cunning ability to morph schizoid “Planner Girl”. As Planner Girl, this former Lost Girl did her best to get the him to commit to plans one week, one month, even six months in advance thinking that said commitment would provide the security necessary to ensure he would stay in the relationship long enough to see these plans through.
Like all Lost Girls, I spent too many hours obsessing about how to get the nameless “hims” in my life to pursue me.
Last week I had dinner with a lost girl in crisis, tears teetering on the edge of her smoke brown eyes. As we sipped lattes and nursed her broken heart between forkfuls of black forest chocolate cheesecake, it became clear that she couldn’t stop loving her jerk, because she didn’t believe she deserved to be cherished, adored and respected.
Lost Girls are everywhere, I have noticed. Camouflaged, their physical beauty, open hearts and kindness make it impossible to see what they are missing inside. Many have successful careers. Friends and families who love them. These girls don’t appear to be broken. Yet, their aching need to love and be loved, the desperate quest to find validation of their love-ability from a man they have put on a pedestal, makes them jump blindly into a relationship with the one man who will hurt her most.
While some Lost Girls can be seen from afar, this brilliant disguise makes them hard to recognize. What they don’t tell you is that behind this façade is a girl who lives from a place of doubt and lonliness. What they don’t tell you is the story of how it happens. What it looks like. And how it always will end.
How the Lost Girl Gets Her Guy
First off, the “Lost Girl “ (LG) is not patient, whether she is already in a relationship, or waiting to pounce on someone new. While there are degrees in which a Lost Girl will put off taking action, she is mostly doing so with clenched jaw and curled toes, pulling her cell phone from her purse repeatedly, desperate to see if he has called, resisting the temptation to call or text herself. While she hangs on, the Lost Girl contacts her friends to discuss when she can call, every possible reason why her crush hasn’t telephoned her, or to brainstorm a valid reason to initiate conversation. From the minute she first makes eye contact, she’s impatient. If she see’s him in a bar, she wonder’s when will he approach? If she gave him her number she sits, waiting. Tip, tip, tapp, rolling her fingers on the kitchen table. Sigh. Eat a donut. The Lost Girl just can’t wait. She wants to plan their first vacation, get a pet together, or eat from the same fork. She wants to buy sheets together, meet his parents, and exchange pet names. As a result, this directionless dame makes one of the most crucial dating mistakes possible straight away – she pursues her target! While prowling the love jungle, this little tiger just doesn’t understand that men need to pursue women, that they require the hunt to feel like the chest-beating apes from which they descended. But the LG does not care, as a feminist she believes that waiting by the phone for him to call is so old-fashioned. This brilliant love junkie rationalizes her behavior expertly and, once a man has caught her eye, the hunt begins. The Lost Girl begins to fill her time with hours and hours of man-stalking, the first step in the frenetic quest to hook her guy.
Step 1: Online Stalking
Merely obsessing won’t give the Lost Girls the gratification she requires. She needs validation. The lengthy, circuitous discussions on the when’s and why not’s of this particular guy with her Lost Girlfriends can’t meet her needs. So while her favorite love song plays on the radio, she takes action. The plethora of online social networking websites are just a click away, making stalking online is a cinch. Facebook. Myspace. Google. The Lost Girl will take advantage of these wesbsites sneaking a “quick fix” frequently throughout her day, making an immediate “friend request” so that she can look at his pictures, stalk his friends, and possibly even (gasp!) write on his wall. Relentless in her quest for information and a false sense of connection, the Lost Girl is determined to find out the following:
1. Where does he work? Where is his gym? Where does he go for happy hour? And who the heck is that girl in the pictures from last weekend?
2. The number and type of girls who are his “friends.” Are they bimbos? Smart girls? Colleagues? College friends? And really, who is that girl in the pictures from last weekend. Wait….is that the same FREAKING girl that is in his birthday party photos as well?
3. Where does he hang out? Lost girls can spend hours that melt into days just reading comments, “wall” postings, looking at pictures etc, clicking on his friends, his friend’s friends, his friends, his friend’s friends and his friend’s friend’s friends. Wait, is that her Aunt Myrna?
4. His direct email address and possibly even his phone number. Once she has this information the obsessing mounts into a frenzied mind game. Should she text ?Email him? Instant message?
As the online stalking crescendo builds, and the Lost Girl can no longer stand the thought of devoting one more day to looking at his pictures, emailing them to her friends, monitoring his status updates, wall postings and any other comments he makes, the LG must take action. Enough circling for this tiger, the LG must pounce
Step 2: Initiating Contact
Our girl is lost so she can’t wait a second longer. What’s next? Simple: this creative lass crafts an opportunity to initiate contact with her man. An event. A little thing that she knows he can’t say “no” to if she asks at just the right time.
The scenario in her mind goes something like this:
“I really like Tom, he likes me too. He is really busy, but…. I’m sure since he’s a photographer…. he would love to go see my friend’s latest exhibit at that gallery downtown.
Never mind that Tom hasn’t called our Lost Girl since meeting her three weeks ago at a bar. The Lost Girl, forever fueled by the few texts he did return, thinks,….why not?
Of course, Tom will most likely decline. But a Lost Girl never gives up. It’s time to employ operation “Stake Out.”
The Stake Out
A master at the Stake Out, our Lost Girl investigates where her man hangs out. Perhaps he mentioned he likes to work during weekend afternoons at a particular coffee shop. Suddenly, this coffee shop becomes a new home for the Lost Girl –she takes her laptop, has lunch with her friends, even runs in for a quick coffee – all under the guise of casual business. But really, our smart LG is, in fact, staking out her man. It doesn’t seem to matter to the Lost Girl that this joint is on the other side of town. Forge on she will! Our Lost Girl proceeds to frequent the place (bar, restaurant, etc.) in hopes of making contact with him.
If (shock and horror!) the Lost Girl knows nothing about her guy’s frequent watering hole or grub hub she must corral her friends (fellow LG’s, who else?) to tag along for a drink at the bar where they first met. Loyal as they are, her girlfriends will protest. But well versed in the art of persuasion, our Lost Girl is brilliant and will convince them. Once out with her wing-girls she will spend most of her time casing the joint in search of him. So singular in her focus, she doesn’t even look at other guys.
The Stake Out: In Pursuit
If he shows up, the LG is instantly flustered, even though she has been waiting for hours to see him, she now avoids eye contact and hopes he sees her first. In the event he doesn’t see her (he is actually having a good time with his friends), she makes the approach, acting as though she was just “on her way to the bar” to buy a round of drinks for her wing girls.
LG: Hey, Tom?
Her voice goes up an octave as she utters Tom’s name
LG: Wassup? What are you doing here?
TOM: Hey beautiful.
LG now breaks into “Cool Girl” mode, pretending to watch the baseball game that’s on TV at the bar, offering to buy him a drink just before it becomes awkward and his boys approach. After all, she was “on her way” to the bar to buy a round.
From this point onward, our LG is Tom’s “date” for the evening. Some Lost Girls will possibly buy more drinks for the crew, maybe suggesting a round of shots for Tom and his friends, while others just linger, even if he leaves to allegedly go the restroom. When he is near, her body language is forward. She is constantly touching his arm, shoulder or leaning into him, and oo-oo-oeey does he smell good. And because our friend “Tom” (like any other drunk guy) is responsive, it is fuel for the fire. He puts his arm around her, pulls her close, kisses her neck. Most likely Tom has had a drink or two, pulling his LG over to the corner for a little tonsil hockey. In the haze of alcohol and lust, the LG now believes Tom is really “into her”, and acts accordingly. When last call is over and the lights come up, Tom invites our LG back to his place to “hang out.” The Lost Girl usually goes home with her crush, leaving her friends at the bar recklessly, not stopping to understand that without her car she will wake at Tom’s place, now dependent on him for her exit.
Although this may be only the second time she has seen Tom, these two look like quite the item as they leave the bar. Half-wrecked, arm in arm, you can be sure our LG tigress is headed straight to Tom’s bed (or couch, kitchen, stairwell of his apartment complex, or car).
Four Reasons the LG is into this Particular Guy
#4 He’s hot…rich….or she is somehow impressed by his resume
For some LGs, looks and/or income are everything. They can’t believe Mr. Abrocrombie model wants to hook up with her. (I can’t believe HE’S into me!!). This translates into he thinks I’m beautiful (even if I don’t). He thinks I’m desirable (even if I don’t). He thinks I’m good enough (even if I don’t.) It might just be hooking up, but to the LG the hookup is a BIG green light – he’s into her. He makes her feel seen. He makes her feel lovable. To the lost girl, it means this guy could be her boyfriend!
#3 He’s charming
The charming man is funny, witty, educated and says just the right things to make the LG swoon. He’s perfectly polished – opening doors, touches her gently on the small of her back as he directs her into his car at 2am to take her to his place to have sex. He acts the part of the boyfriend adeptly, when he is with the LG. But out of sight is out mind, my dear girl. This guy has no long-term interest and only spends time with the LG when it works for him.
#2 When he’s with the LG, she feels like the most important thing in his life
This man calls the LG “Gorgeous”, “Beautiful”, “sexy.” He pours it on thick in order to make her feel like the most amazing woman he has ever met, but the Lost Girl should not be fooled! He does this with every girl!
#1 He makes her feel seen, special, loved or some other important feeling she believes she can’t get on her own.
While all of these may be important to some degree, LGs are all over the map in regards to which is most important. Some LGs just fall for the hot guys, or guys who offer to fly them to Maui over the holidays, no matter what. Other’s cannot resist the charming smile or polished charisma of a guy who may not be exceptionally good looking. Most important, however, the LG will grab onto the one guy who makes her feel like she is the most important thing in his life. But his charm is a tough act to maintain and may last just a week or two – but she has sampled a morsel of this decadent cake, will settle for less than she should (see section on “Crumbs”) and will try to recreate those feelings interminably. Once she’s had a taste she’ll do anything to hold to the possibility he will make her feel that way again. Even if he only intermittently gives her the attention she deserves, it is enough to power the LG forward in her desire to hold on to this relationship. And who’s she kidding? Relative to all the other loser ex’s she’s been with, (this guy who happens to actually have a job, is age appropriate and actually remembers her birthday) this guy is a GEM!
What they don’t tell you, is the Lost Girl is going to be hurt. He’ll cheat. He’ll lie. He’s never ready to commit. Her heart will be broken. What they don’t tell you is that this vicious cycle will continue interminably…until the Lost Girl learns that in order to love and be loved by another, she must first love herself.