Last month Bedsider sent me to, The Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, & San Francisco), to talk to folks their about dating, relationships, and sex lives. [Side note: New vlog, “Love in the Bay Area” up Monday! Meantime watch one of my past Bedsider volgs] And in between talking to strangers about their personal stories, I reconnected with Bay-friends I’d met during my first visit in 2011. I was there for my 26th birthday, but of course I did some interviewing.
I met and interviewed Airial Clark, a single parent, who was about to finish her masters in, Human Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University, and asked her about her love & sex resolutions for 2012. She told me:
Being single for the past 10 years has really been about running and rejecting that idea that a relationship just consumes your whole life. So I think I’m old enough now to where I know myself and I know relationships, and I’ve created a skill set where I can keep a complementary relationship… That’s the goal, to be with someone that prioritizes my goals and dreams, respects my passion, and understands that I have multiple commitments.
Since then Airial has graduated from school and became “the sex positive parent,” but what about her love life? With 2012 well behind us, I asked:
Veralyn: Did your romantic resolutions come true?
Airial: Yes and no.
Yes, since shifting my attention to long term partnership I have dated people I wouldn’t have considered before and declined to date people I previously would have been super hot for. Am I in a long-term partnership? No.
Plus, I’m a parent. So that’s a whole other dimension to any serious relationship I enter. People I am casually dating don’t become part of my family. I don’t insert them into my daily routine. That is a very big boundary for me.
Veralyn: So can you have it ALL: the kids, the partner and the career?
Airial: I’m not really sure. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life being a mom, and then a student, and then a dating adventurer. I’m trying to make it all work while enjoying some romantic extra curricular activities
Do you have any tips for someone that may be in similar place as you?
Airial: I do!
1. Have good boundaries. I really enjoy dating because I am good with my boundaries and enjoy communicating, so it’s never been difficult for me to have casual, mutually beneficial, short-term relationships. I like to come and go as I please. I really value my independence. I am 100% not interested in being your mama.
2. Be upfront about who you are and where you’re at. I usually say something like, “There are some really important things I need to accomplish for myself before I’ll be ready for a more serious relationship. But I like spending time with you and am having a great time.”
3. Be cool with rejection. I know this sounds impossible, but that’s the flip side to being honest. The person you are seeing gets to decide if they want to keep dating casually, or if they’re ready for something serious. Put your cards on the table and if they walk away, no hard feelings.
4. Look for mentors. We all need role models. I’ve sought out mentors for academic achievement, I have mentors for building my career, now I’m recognizing I need mentors for the kind of romantic partnership I want to have down the road. I’m observing my brilliant and passionate friends who are in fantastic long-term relationships to see how they compliment each other’s life goals. How do they support each other? How do they balance their priorities when career and family seem mutually exclusive? Or what do they do when self-care bumps up against relationship needs? Honestly, I’ve never paid much attention to that. I feel very grateful to have so many amazing friends to learn from.
Can I just say how much I appreciate her honesty?! When it come to balancing life, a career, and romantic interests (to use a possibly corny metaphor) — there is no elevator…. you have have to take the stairs. And I think Airial’s suggestions will get you up there! Though her tips are very “Bay Area”… check back on Monday for my next Bedsider vlog– to see what I mean!