“Prepare for the Bear”: Love Advice for My Future Partners from My Friends & Family

by: Mar Curran

I view my dating past to have been a collection of stories best told when drinking with friends. Whether they are bewildering (like the person who tried to show me pictures from their hunting trip, knowing I’ve been a vegetarian for about a decade), frightening (the ex who punched a wall next to my head when I said I wouldn’t have sex with her), or highly amusing (the girl who talked with her eyes closed the whole date and insulted my beloved White Sox to my face), they are always met with a positive feeling of hope for the future.

I was recently involved with someone, and after it ended, a few of my friends remarked on some odd things I had said or did during this relationship. I asked them why the things I did were weird and found out I still have a lot to learn about dating. [1] Which is to be expected; I’m 22 and have only had 2 “relationships.” [2] But I kind of felt bad for the people who I had dated and will date in the future who have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. I am awesome, of course, but I am also a jumble of weird. How could I communicate to someone both that I have odd idiosyncrasies but that if they look past them it’s totally worth it?

The only logical recourse for this was to ask my loved ones, acquaintances, and past hook ups what advice they’d dole out about dating me. Here is what some of them said, in their words.

Patrick Gill 

(My guncle [3] ” & male role model. Also kind of my boss for In Our Words and All The Writers I Know.)

- Prepare for the Bear. I don’t know at what point in Second Puberty you are dating my dear sweet darling, Mar, but as soon as he gets a beard I think he is keeping it for goodsies. That and I have heard him get almost aggressively gleeful about the pot belly he might develop. I think and hope you love these things about him, not overly fetishize about him, but love. Letting someone know what you love about their appearance sometimes – especially when society hasn’t been too kind about what you want/have – goes a long way.

- Keep up. Mar’s a quick talker. Mar is a man of action. Mar will be one place, then another place then another place, then another, talking fast and doing things. Don’t be jealous of these places and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

- Enjoy “Hoaders.” Unless this his alone-time-unwind-shtick, snuggle and watch “Hoaders” with him. Just do it. Trust me, I watched that show with him once — it was a cat hoarder so it was a double bonus for him — I have never heard so much giggling and proclaiming of how he will totally reorganize and get things done later. It was more than endearing. I am sure sharing that moment with a partner will be even cuter.

- Don’t say cats aren’t cute or something, or that you don’t really care for cats. Just don’t. Seriously, like any type of thing you have against cats, just throw it away now, just really. Oh you think they’re lazy or mean, oh you’re allergic, just get over it. Trust me. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

- Hold both sides of his face when you kiss him. This isn’t a Mar thing. This is actually an everyone thing that our friend Rosy has talked about for years and I whole heartedly believe in it. It just feels supportive and close and loving and intimate and just do it every once and a while. I don’t even like being touched, period, that much but for some reason this just feels good.

Amber Schwartz

(Fake ex-wife, fellow New Jersey expat, weird wingman.)

- No matter if you live together or thousands of miles apart, if you fight every moment of everyday it will never work.

- If you can tell them to leave and invite someone else over ….not gonna happen.

- Amber then went on to give me advice about not dating cheaters anymore, which would be hard to edit down to one bullet point, so basically just don’t cheat on me or Amber will be mad.

- Meet on the CTA, stalk their life, bring them to NJ to meet the fam, be super whipped, go to Europe to meet their fam, happily ever after. Shabam. [4]

Sean Brennan

(High school theater buddy/dance date, fake father of my fake children in high school.)

- Don’t worry if you ever rip your pants (however exciting the circumstances). Despite the macho exterior, Mar has the sewing skills of a 1950s housewife and can fix any of your clothes.

- A (high school) life in the theatre has left Mar with a few tricks up his sleeve, so watch out. He’s a whiz with a Ben Nye kit and can pull off lots of great bruises, cuts, and sores. Don’t be fooled.

- No matter what happens, no matter how bad the fight, there is always a very simple solution: Chipotle vegetarian burritos. [5]

- Never trust a trampoline with which Mar is associated. It will only end in bad jokes and multiple stitches.

- Mar is a recovering Mathlete. [6]

- When in doubt, talk about the Red Line.

- If Chipotle doesn’t make things better, PBR probably will.

- Mar is a little bit obsessed with me. I mean, there’s the Team Brennan shirt. And I can’t even count how many times he’s taken my pants off. [7]

Stevie Palmer

(Roommate’s best friend, my friend, leaver of the best drunk Post-It notes ever [I even framed some of them], most inventive birthday gift giver. Told me to mention she’s attractive, a biter, and may be of royal blood.)

- First of all, I feel obligated to offer the disclaimer that I am perhaps a horrible source of love advice. The last date I went on was to Jack & Jill, and when I sing Beyonce’s “Countdown,” I change the lyrics to “ladies if you love your man/show him your VAGINA.” So maybe my first piece of advice is just “know me, do the opposite.” But Mar is dope and easy to love, to such an extent that you shouldn’t need any advice, and much like a hand in your pants at a Jack & Jill screening you’re gonna get it anyway no matter how unnecessary it may be. Ready?

- Let him know how good he looks in a sweater with a button up underneath. You know, like with the collar folded over the sweater. Hard to fuck that look up.

- Make out to “You Da One” by Rihanna, with a mutual understanding that pop music is as uncool as it is So Right On.

- Give him hand massages on the train.

- Kiss the back of his neck.

- Memorize his favorite burrito order and surprise him with it.

- Email him poems when he’s at work and you haven’t really seen each other in a minute (Frank O’Hara’s “Having A Coke With You” is KILLER).

- Ogle him.

- Buy him Aquamarine on DVD (dude has 2 copies already so the situation is ripe for pranking).

- Be into his cats even when Sausage is being a pain in the ass.

- Leave a note if you have to leave before he wakes up. Leave a note in his school notebook for him to find in class.

- Take couples pictures but goof them up on Blingee.com.

- Develop so many inside jokes it becomes a fully functional language.

- High five after sex.

Lindsey Dietzler

(platonic life partner, best friend, former temporary roommate/permanent soul mate.)

Mar is incredibly thoughtful and would give you the shirt off his back if he thought it would make you happy. He is not afraid to tell you how much he cares about you, will always make you laugh, and he will stand by you in your darkest moments — even when you throw your u-lock at the American Apparel window. Hang on to this one; he’s a keeper.

Mattis “Mar” Curran is a trans/queer rights activist and community organizer; he is on the boards of Video Action league, Advocate Loyola, the Queer intercollegiate Alliance, and works with GetEQUAL. As spoken word artist, he has read at each All The Writers I Know event. He studies Communications and Women’s Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Curran likes beer and cats.


[1] Shocker.
[2] I like to call one of them a “relationshit.”
[3] Gay uncle, a formation of my chosen family.
[4] I think this is more related to how Amber met her current girlfriend, but if you follow these steps it seems good for me too. I can work with that.
[5] It’s so weird that this is true.
[6] I’m not sure how this is dating advice, but whatever.
[7] I offer no denial, but would like to point out that Sean has a Team Curran shirt too.
[8] Thanks for letting everyone know that, Stevie.
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