The guy I'm sort of dating asks me, “Do you know Glenda Bautista?”

I say, “No.”

He says, “We're trying to hire her.”

So I check out her blog and dis her and he says, “She was dating Matt Mullenweg.”

I say, “Really.”

He says, “Yeah. I was talking with my business partner and we both thought it must really suck for her that they are not dating anymore but they are still mentioned in the same breath a lot.”

“Really? Like how?”

“Google Glenda Bautista Matt.”

I do that. Their life looks really fun. They do cool stuff, meet cool people, and how can you not think Matt is great? He is. Who knows what he's like to date, but he's a great online brand.

That conversation was four weeks ago. And I have talked with this guy I'm sort of dating, D, a lot since then. But I am not saying that he's my boyfriend because maybe I want my boyfriend to have as big a brand as Matt.

For forever, girls have been looking for guys with a ton of money — even the smart girls. But I married a guy who never earned any money, and honestly, I never really cared. We had problems, but not because I earned all the money.

So now I know that I don't need to look for a guy with a ton of money. And since my divorce, I’ve taken time to be sort of a free spirit, just dating people for fun and connection and all the corny things my readers ask me to pay attention to, as they explain how the farmer is not right for me, and how the 25-year-old is not right either, and that the alcoholic private equity guy is an alcoholic.

Then I thought about Glenda. I immediately thought she must be a good hire because she dated Matt. It's a good reference. You know she's smart. Because how could Matt be with a moron? He couldn't. And even before you see her in person, you can know she's not below average in the looks department, because I don't think Matt needs to go there. So my point, here is that attaching your own brand to a known, solid brand is very good.

I see Hollywood people doing this. It’s not new. But it’s new that today each person online is some sort of brand and we are all personal brand managers.

So, D, who is really attentive and normal—two traits I have never had in a boyfriend, ever—is scary to me because I'm giving up the chance to enhance my brand by dating an online star.

So I was sort of keeping D a secret. Because I was worried doors would close. But I could see doors closing because each week I'd spend more time on the phone with him. You might have noticed this. There's an inverse correlation between how smitten I am with who I'm seeing and how frequent these blog posts arrive.

Last week, for example, there were two posts, and I only wrote one of them. When I was in a terrible marriage and trying to hide in my work, there were four posts a week, sometimes five.

I found myself doing stuff like talking with him all day via IM and text and email and the phone. So that even though he lives very far from me, it felt like he was sort of everywhere, all the time.

I got tired, so tired that I actually sent the kids to school one day and went back to bed and missed all my meetings. When I called Ryan to tell him I overslept I felt like I was the intern calling human resources and hoping not to get fired.

Ryan didn't care. He knows I work way more than most people and that I would probably be more sane if I worked less.

But I got nervous and went back to working long hours and still talking on the phone late at night, until one night recently.

I saw I missed a call, and I called him back, and I said, “Where are you?” Mostly I asked because it sounded loud and I know his routine now, and it's never loud at 8pm. He said, “I'm on a plane. Stuck on the tarmac.”

I said, “You didn't tell me you were flying tonight.”

He said, “You didn't ask.”

I went ballistic that how could we talk this much and he not tell me his travel schedule.

Then he told me his schedule.

I told him I am planning a trip to the same city. We could be sharing a hotel room. Why is he not telling me ahead of time? I tell him I'm so frustrated that I have to hang up.

He says, “I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't know you wanted to see me.”

I said, “Are you nuts? I talk with you almost every night. ”

Then we both paused.

He said, “You don't know who this is, do you?”

Then I died as I realized he is my freelance sales guy who lives in the same area code as D.

I tell him,”Oh. God. No. I didn't know it was you. I have to hang up. I have to call you back. I have to call you back in maybe ten years.”

That was the first thing. Of many things that are the result of me spending way too much time talking and writing to D.

He sent me a quote about how we each vibrate a certain way and we find our vibrational match.

I told him I think that's true, but I vibrate like an insane person. And I worry that I am attracting my vibrational match for insanity and that if I could just get more sane, I'd attract a different match.

He pointed out the obvious: I will probably not get more sane. “This is just you,” he said.

And then I got happy that he is stable and calm and largely unshakable, when I am often shaking as much as I can.

And then I tell myself that I have to admit that I'm dating him. I'm not sure what that means, but the only reason I'm not doing it is because I'm holding out for some amorphous online brand that will perfectly complement my own.

Do not write to me and tell me that's shallow, okay? It's the new millennium version of a gold digger. And I know I'm not the only one. I'm just the only one willing to admit it.

So I guess when someone wants to hire me, I'm not going to be able to get the job based on who I've dated.

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  1. Anony
    Anony says:

    Anon, I agree with everything you say except for your third paragraph. You’ve left off the end of the quote, which gives the context: “… it must really suck for her that they are not dating anymore BUT THEY ARE STILL MENTIONED IN THE SAME BREATH A LOT.” [Captals mine.]I made the same mistake as you on my first reading.

    But other than that, I’m with you all the way. Also, one of the many things that sucks about this post is that Glenda’s full name is in the first sentence of a post called “Gold Digging Web 2.0 Style”. That’s also in the URL. “Gold digging” is gonna show up in Google results for her from now on. So no, Penelope didn’t actually say Glenda was a gold digger, but any reader skimming the article is still going to think that’s what the article says.

    • anon.
      anon. says:

      Hi Anony,

      Thanks for letting me know that my last comment was unclear.

      I left off the “but” clause at the end of the sentence, because it offers additional information that I consider non-hurtful. However, I do not believe it modifies the initial assertion, which I quoted, in any way.

      The initial assertion is: “it must really suck for her that they are not dating anymore”. The point I attempted to make is that if we do not know these people personally, it is not up to us to make this assumption, and post it on the internet with full real names.

      I have a personal situation, that I tried to relate it to. Truly, some groups of people probably still mention me and my ex-husband in the same breath. This does NOT mean it would be ok for someone to write, in a post that is highly-ranked on Google: “it must really suck for her that they are not married anymore.” Because, it doesn’t suck for me. And I do not want anyone to think that it does.

      What offends me, is that casual readers of this article will think of this woman, as someone to feel sorry for, because she’s not with some guy. I looked around at her websites, and she actually seems like a pretty awesome individual. She runs a non-profit, so she’s trying to make the world a better place. That is a heck of a lot more than Penelope Trunk can say.

  2. patricia
    patricia says:

    What I don’t understand is, why does D deserve the right to remain anonymous and yet others aren’t given the same courtesy? Clearly you understand the need for discretion, but only when it suits you. A fact which, given the topic of the post, doesn’t really surprise me. Your point, silly as I find it to be, could have been made just as well without using people’s full names.

  3. Eric
    Eric says:

    I have a question for Penelope:

    If the point of your post was not to slander Glenda for being a gold digger nor to praise Matt for being golden, then why did you need to mention their names in your post at all? I’m sure that an accomplished writer could’ve gotten her point across without unnecessarily namedropping individuals who were representative icons in your story, but whose character had no bearing on the tale, right?

    I’ve hung out with Matt and he’s a damn fine human being; what you may not know about Glenda is that she’s amazing all by herself regardless of who she dates. I could easily run our of breath heaping complimentary adjectives upon each of them.

    You are absolutely right about golddiggers in the real world, and I applaud your honesty and willingness to take on the topic but maybe your approach should have been better?

    -E

  4. ysl
    ysl says:

    Wow, if I were Glenda Bautista I would be feeling so mad and irritated, and somewhat powerless right now.

    It would have ruined more than my weekend knowing that 30K readers of your blog, can now out of curiousity, check out photos, blogs, and lots of other personal information about me, and that I am referenced in a blog about gold diggers (regardless of whether you called her one) and my wonderful ex-boyfriend. Great, especially when JOB HUNTING and possibly still hurting from a break-up.

    I don’t know Glenda, but I actually felt really bad for her thinking about this post. She did not ask or deserve this.

    How about writing a post on the topic of online etiquette?! This is clearly an area where you need to start doing a LOT of research and soul searching!

    Just because you CAN name your enemies and strangers in your post, does it make it right? Don’t you have some sense of responsibility with 30K subscribers to do the right thing instead of focus on sensationlism?

    It was not necessary to name them to get your point across that YOU realize you are a shallow gold digger. It was VERY irresponsible and unpolite.

    You also start off saying you dis her? Why? Are you jealous and insecure that your boyfriend (until someone better comes along) was too impressed by her?

    I used to occasionally forward your posts on to colleagues and friends…those days are over. It doesn’t matter, you clearly have a huge fan club here.

    …shaking head in disbelief.

  5. Jonas M Luster
    Jonas M Luster says:

    So you’re pitting a successful engineer and driving force behind a concept which just valued and sold in the billions against her boyfriend who wrote a successful weblogging app? And you come, somehow, to the conclusion that said woman is, in any way, shape, or form, someone who “gold dug” Matt?

    Listen, lady. I know Matt and Glenda for far longer than WordPress was successful and for even further longer than their relationship. Which should be, to anyone with a social IQ above Junior High, a non issue regardless. But then, I am also somewhat an observer. And your projections are much more telling about yourself than Glenda, Matt, or anyone else, for that matter.

    Gold diggers exist. Heck, they do on both genders. I know about as many women attaching themselves to successful males than the other way round. But by Odin, if I’d ever have to come up with one counter-example, it’d be Matt and Glenda. Matt is one smart and cool dude, I doubt he’d date a gold digger for as long as he’s dated Glenda. And Glenda? She was a legend long before Matt became one, and she still is. She, too, is too smart and cool, to enter into relationships for the digging part. Simple as that. Maybe correct observation, absolutely baseless launch pad for it.

    I hope you’ll eventually lose that Junior High attitude about prom queens and varsity football players. Until then, I’d suggest you go the way of anyone else who wants to be taken serious and don’t judge someone by whom they’ve dated before.

  6. anon
    anon says:

    The real point of this post is that Penelope is scared that she is getting into something real. And she is very afraid that while she is dancing on moonbeams, she is actually gold that is about to be dug.

    Her rant is the response of a child who hopes for something she never dared to before, and can only deal with these overwhelming feelings by attacking her own hopes.

    For example, rather than confront the possibility that she’s being taken advantage of, she is subconsciously trying to justify it. Instead of asking the question, “Do I feel safe with this man?”, she is claiming that no one is safe. She’s tearing down a good thing before it can tear down her; she’s pre-souring the grapes.

    I’m not a regular reader, but a lot of what passes for “honesty” is the same sort of thing: warding off hope by vulgarizing everything that might make you happy.

    I just happened across this post, here at 5:30am. But, in all seriousness: Good luck, Penelope. I hope you remember what it was you were looking for, and then find it.

  7. Paul
    Paul says:

    We all want to do certain things with our lives:
    *do good *have friendships and love *be of value to others *create *share.
    These are instances of what dear old Onkel Karl called “use value.” And of course we’re interested in being with people with similar wants.

    Unfortunately, when we all want the same things, the opportunity to do them becomes very scarce. In order to participate, you then need to bargain and trade. You need to develop “exchange value”:
    *resources *credentials *influence *status *power.
    People with these things can give more and receive more and be more fully human.

    Unfortunately, the exchange value is hard enough to earn that many lose track of, or lose interest in, providing the use value. As Mr. Bernstein said in explaining his old boss “Citizen” Kane: “There’s no trick to making a lot of money if that is all you want.”

    The above applies equally to the gold-digger as to the provider. It’s a situation that invites inequity and a certain amount of misery. And like most such situations, we’re pretty much stuck with it.

  8. terry chay
    terry chay says:

    So I'm reading this article and find out that P. and D. know more about my friends' relationship status than I do.

    I guess I need to log into Facebook more often.

  9. Horse Badorties
    Horse Badorties says:

    What I want to know is..
    Howcum everybody has all this time to do all this bloggin’ while I can’t muster the energy to get off the couch to get another 40? Mystery to me.

  10. income tax
    income tax says:

    I almost accidentally went to this site, but stayed there for a long time. Delayed, because everything is very interesting. Be sure to tell you about all my friends.

  11. Van
    Van says:

    This was a complete and utter waste of my time, L2write about relevant and engaging content. Your writing style is as pathetic as an emo 13 year old talking about a new boy she’s crushing on and it literally is sad that you’re much older and have procreated. What does this have to do about gold digging? Your tags are more or less a ploy to get people to read about your pathetic life.

  12. Fleur De Lis Shower Curtain
    Fleur De Lis Shower Curtain says:

    I prefer dating people (yes, men, in my case) rather than brands. Never got much emotional – or intellectual – satisfaction dating SmartWater, Nike, Keen, Jimmy Choo, etc. (I appear to have a well-hydrated shoe fetish.)

    I worry about people dating brands. Makes ’em seem shallow. And not so connected to real life. I prefer people who are connected to real life. Makes it easier to live one.

    But, then, I only went to a land-grant university. I’m sure that dooms me to a life of subpar intellect. Or to a career as as a journalist.

  13. Truly
    Truly says:

    I dated an online star, and it was one of the most heartbreaking, dysfunctional experiences of my life. I did it so you don’t have to.

    Normal and attentive looks pretty damn good to me these days.

  14. James
    James says:

    After reading this post it has became crystal clear that theme through many of the life and romance lessons are that in some way no matter what we do in the end all selfish humans are selfish. If not this is the 2nd time, i feel that you should date a therapist or a competitors blog. As and experience blogger, wouldn’t you believe companies look at what you post, than who you date. Truthfully, I only say this because you are marvelous when it comes to book smarts but some obvious social conventions you don’t catch up on.In your blog post, i feel as if you are speaking to me but you tend to abuse the word “So” like a teenage girl would speak. This post starts would’ve been better in the romance category, after reading this twice it doesn’t apply to career. On another note, I’m truely glad you reference some of your blog post together. In particular, which may be true, but after reading the golding I kind’ve feel bad for the guy that is currently “dating you” or even “current husband. Have you at least considered he trying to attach to your “brand” instead? IBesides ask that, i will continue reading because your have a magnificant style of writing and tease my brain. :)

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