Friday, December 28, 2012

A tone for 2013

I dreaded writing this post, but I suppose it needs to be done. The blogosphere loves a good year-end recap, and since what I write about is dating... Sigh. Let's just get this over with, shall we?

2012 started off just ducky. I thought I'd found the love of my life; my happily-ever-after. He turned out to be nothing more than a really well-disguised frog who broke my heart and sent me reeling into months of grief and heartache. Thank goodness for good friends.

Then I met a guy who, though it didn't work out, taught me an awful lot about myself. I learned what I really want from a relationship, and what I need to change in order to find it. Plus he took me on a really good vacation.

I also met a couple of OK guys. One taught me that ridiculously good-looking guys could actually be interested in me. A valuable lesson, which helped me to meet another guy.

I attempted a dating nap - and failed miserably. It's coming, trust me.

I went on a few really bad dates. Eventually, I met a guy I really like, which has led to very little positive. You haven't heard about him, because I can't even find words to describe how I feel. Yes, it is that bad, and that is how the year is ending.

Still, 2012 wasn't a total loss. I learned a lot, did a lot, and made some important decisions. I made some bad choices, which led to some good stories.

But I'm not sorry to see 2012 go.

I plan to ring in 2013 alone; home with my new TV, my BluRay (both courtesy of X), and my kitties. I believe that 2013 will be a good year, full of positive choices and options, and new, exciting stories. I believe 2013 will be a year full of happy. I believe that any good I find will start within me. 

So the tone I'm setting for 2013 is one of peace and quiet, and comfort and happiness - all found with me, and me alone. I'm hoping it helps me to find the center I'll need to move forward and make 2013 a fabulous year.
"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." Hellen Keller

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nice guys?

Baking Suit sent me a link to this article over at Inquistr.

My reaction? I so wish I had the nerve to do the same thing.

The blog is dedicated to the "nice guys of OK Cupid." The author (unknown) has apparently set out to uncover some of that women find in men's online dating profiles.


You know, like this guy, who thinks women are sluts if they've had a lot of partners, and that women are "obligated" to shave their legs - but who also sees himself as a "sweet guy" who is one of the "few chivalrous guys left out there." At least he spelled chivalrous correctly.

Or this guy, who thinks that a "No is just a yes that needs a little convincing" - ah yes, that is "hopelessly romantic."

I'm assuming the blogger is a woman, but of course I don't know that for sure. In any case - I find this concept to be genius.

Yeah, yeah...people will say it's mean, or out of line. The blogger is just pulling a bunch of quotes and pictures and answers to silly questions and reassembling them together, all out of context.

Thing is...that is an online dating profile. A collection of photos, quotes, summaries, anecdotes, questions and answers that represent a person in the online world. I'm sure everyone has mistakes in their profile. I bet even I have mistakes in mine (which is why I occasionally ask friends to take a look and give me some feedback).

If you don't want to come across as a jerk, hypocrite, or just plain psycho - blogs like this are actually really just constructive criticism.

Delivered with a little bit of genius.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Point made

I was raised to believe everything was my fault, and I was always guilty for something. That's not a criticism of my family or a complaint; it's a cultural, religious, and generational thing. It also shouldn't have been a big deal, because I should have just let it go once I grew up.

Instead, somehow I managed to transfer those childhood feelings to adulthood - and place them smack in the middle of every relationship I have. Not just dating, either - I'm talking every relationship. When there's a problem, my first reaction is always that it's my fault. Then I apologize and I try to fix whatever is wrong.

Every. Single. Time.

But, in the last few years, I've started to realize that thinking isn't really doing me any favors. The truth is - I'm not always wrong (I'm not always right, either, but that's a different blog). Sometimes, stuff goes wrong and it's on the other person. Other times, stuff goes wrong and no one is to blame.

I read somewhere (probably Facebook) that we teach others how to treat us. I had to read the quote a few times before it finally started to sink in.

By always taking the blame, I'm teaching others that it's OK to blame me for everything. By always apologizing, I'm teaching others it's OK to treat me as though I'm always wrong.

I figure that probably needs to stop.

I'm not looking to convince anyone I'm always right, and we should do everything my way. I'm just looking to show people (read: Guys) that I might be right, that sometimes I do have a point, and they should listen and respect my opinions and feelings. I want them to treat me well; the way I deserve to be treated.

The thing I'm wondering...if someone makes a mistake and treats me poorly, is it enough to tell him (emphatically, categorically, and specifically) what is and is not acceptable? Or do I have to actually walk away from that person, in order to drive home the lesson?

I'm not looking to get hurt. I'm not looking to be anyone's doormat. I'm also not looking to walk away from something that actually might have potential, just to make a point.

In the end, it may not matter (too soon to tell). But in the mean time, I'm do I teach others how to treat me?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Official grievance filing

Yesterday was Festivus. Did you air your grievances?


PS - Merry Christmas Eve!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Declaration of Romantic Intent

Found on Facebook.
I feel like I should start using this when I decide I am interested in someone. Yes, I know - open, honest communication is more adult and important - blah, blah, blah.

There's something to be said for a little fill-in-the-blank simplicity. Keeps me focused, concise, and on track.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thanks, hon

My friends will tell you that I'm a stickler for etiquette and respect. It might seem old-fashioned to some, but I just think that there's something to be said for observing a defined guideline for how to behave in a given situation. If you think about it - many awkward, angry, and sad moments could be avoided if people would just mind their manners.

First dates are a prime example. Most of the time, you don't know each other very well - if at all. Even if you've been talking for a while, it's a first date - so it's probably the first time you're meeting in person. That also means it's your one-and-only chance to make that first impression.

If you don't know the person well, it's hard to predict how he will react to certain behavior (running late, texting while at the table, offering to pay). If you know the proper etiquette (don't be late, don't talk on the phone, let him take the lead on the check) at least you have a place to start.

Some things are less obvious. I mean, anyone can put their phone away on date number one. The real truth comes out on date number twelve, when both of you have your phones sitting right on the table. But there are little subtleties in people's behavior that can be really telling about exactly who they are.

Like, showing up for a Friday night date wearing dirty sneakers. (Why do men do this?!) Our date is not at the gym, or a walk in the park. We met at a restaurant. For drinks. Wear shoes. Don't own any? Do us all a favor and stop dating.

Or how about having something to talk about? We're both on this date (which, by the way, you asked for) - why am I doing all the work? If you don't want to be here, that's fine with me. I've got stuff to do.

Want to split the check? Okay with me (Disclaimer: It's not okay with all women, so tread carefully here). But by split, I mean we each pay half. I don't mean for you to sit there and review the check with the waitress, itemizing which items you want her to tally up and take out of your $20. Mortifying.

Unless you know the person you're with, and/or the waitress is related to you, you really shouldn't refer to her as "hon." See - some women (ahem) consider that to be very condescending and disrespectful. Now, I expect you to treat me well, because you're on your best behavior. That's fine - but just know I'm paying a lot of attention to how you treat others, as well. It tells me a lot about what you really think is acceptable treatment of the women in your life.

So, thanks - hon - for the heads up. At least now I don't need to waste anymore time on dates with you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stick to the plan

"So should I cancel the dates?"

Because it's been pouring for a little while, a couple of weeks ago I talked with several guys on a Sunday, and scheduled casual dates for later in the week. Of course, then I met the man of my dreams, and that completely threw the whole thing out of whack (more to come on that...).

As dreamy as he may be, and as too-good-to-be-true as he may seem - we did just meet. It is a little foolish to cancel casual dates over something that isn't much more than casual itself. On the other hand, I didn't want to lead anyone on.
I asked Baking Suit and another trusted friend for advice. They each gave me a slightly different answer - but both agreed:
  • I wasn't doing anything wrong by keeping the dates
  • It's just a first date - no big deal, and not really leading anyone on
In the end, I decided to stick to the plan. I kept both dates (more on that, also). Why? I know I really need to work on slowing things down, and not getting ahead of myself. I felt like canceling the dates would be me taking a step in the wrong direction.

I am so certain of what I want, that as soon as I see it within reach, I want to grab it and hold on tight. I don't want to wait, because I'm afraid that if I hesitate at all, it'll get lost.

I have to keep reminding myself to deal with what is in front of me, not what might be in the future. I have to keep reminding myself that things are going to work out the way they're meant to, no matter what I do. If it's meant to happen, and I stay true to myself, then I can't mess it up. I have to keep reminding myself that all I can control is me - I can't control how someone else feels about me, or how they react or behave. All I can do is be who I am, and control my own reactions and behavior. If I do that, though, things should fall into place.

I just need to stick to that plan.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's raining

In many ways, my life is cyclical. Either there's nothing going on - or everything is happening all at once.

Some might guess this is because my astrological sign is Cancer, which is ruled by the moon, which of course is cyclical. Others might guess it's because I'm a woman, and we're also cyclical. Some might say it's because that's how it is for everyone.

I say I really don't care why it happens...but for whatever reason, when it rains in my life - it freakin' pours.

That's never more true than when it comes to dating. I go through long stretches where I meet no one and am ready to adopt 18 cats. Then, out of nowhere, someone pulls a plug on the black hole, and all the guys fall out and land in a heaping pile smack in the middle of my nice, calm, quiet, happy little existence.


That's what happened at the beginning of the month. In one day, I got an email from a guy I went out with once three years ago (pre-Big), another guy who I had talked with before Trooper but never actually met in person - and this guy. I also got a message from a guy on Match who I thought had gone away (not this one, another one), and a guy on Plenty of Fish started calling me again, after we hadn't talked in a while.

That was one weekend. See what I'm saying? Pour-ing....

....and I haven't even mentioned the new guy I met the next day.

I'll admit the attention is good for my ego - but not much else. It makes life busy and complicated and stressful. I'm worried that I'll lead someone on, or that I'll meet a few people who seem right - and then pursue the wrong one. I'm worried that no one will end up liking me, and I'll feel let down.

I would much prefer to meet one person at a time, see how it goes, and then if it doesn't work out, replace him with the next. A nice, organized, calm, orderly love-life.

The thing is, life doesn't always give us what we prefer. It gives us what we need, and often that arrives in the form of a lesson to be learned, in preparation for something bigger.

So I can let myself get caught up in the rain, and all stressed out, and worry if I'll make a mistake, and eventually just chicken out and avoid the whole thing. Or I can take a breath and realize that the storm was sent for a reason, and if I push through, there's probably something even better for me on the other side.

Time to grab my umbrella.

Friday, December 14, 2012

He's out

The last "bad decision" I made a few weeks ago resulted in a date with a convicted felon.

Let me start at the beginning...

Music Man clicked "Yes" to my profile on the Plenty of Fish "Meet Me" feature. I was notified. I'd seen his profile before, and honestly - I thought we probably wouldn't be a good fit because it looked like he led a pretty exciting life. He's in entertainment, goes to parties, most of his pictures were at bars, etc.

Emboldened by the "Yes," I sent him an email. We started chatting, and then texting, and the next night we spoke on the phone. We agreed to meet for lunch the following day.

I'd already learned that not only did he work in entertainment - his job is in the "adult entertainment" industry. By itself, not a huge issue - though I'll admit, a little intimidating. The biggest challenge that presented would actually have been logistical - his schedule is completely opposite my own. It's very rare that we are both not at work and awake at the same time.

But I wasn't going to let that stop me.

Over lunch, he told me he has several kids (each with a different mom) but no baby-momma-drama. Hmmm... I wonder how you could have that many people, and no drama? He also admitted that his last relationship ended badly, and quite abruptly, leaving him without a place to live or a car. His boss had stepped in to help out - and he was still taking advantage of those favors.

Now...I don't begrudge anyone riding a wave and saving a little money. What I am not a fan of is someone trying to date while his life is in transit. See, my life (work, home, car, bills, etc) is pretty settled. That frees me up to pursue relationships. I understand life happens, and you can't always be settled - but maybe those unsettled times are not the best time to be searching for your soul mate? Just sayin'.

That was truly strike one.

Then he admitted to having a felony conviction. By itself, under different circumstances, maybe not a huge thing. But he still engages in the behavior that landed him in trouble. That's a problem for me. Making a mistake and learning a lesson? Fabulous. Ignoring that lesson and perpetuating the problem?

Strike two.

After lunch, he texted to tell me that he'd had a great time, and asked when he could see me again. This was a Wednesday. I told him next week, because I was busy Thursday, he works Friday and Saturday nights, and spends Sundays with his kids. That brings us to Monday, so did he want to make plans?

That was the last I ever heard from him.

Strike three. He's out.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I paid for this?

As part of my most recent string of bad decisions, I met a guy - on Since joining Match last summer, this is the first guy I've talked with long enough for it to turn into a date (though, I admit, I haven't been using Match the way they suggest).

Everyone says that the people on paid dating sites are of a different caliber. Even the most minimal financial commitment tends to limit the users to those who are more serious about meeting others.

I have honestly not found that to be the case. I have met more than one guy on Match who is either looking for just a hook-up, or who is looking to never meet in person. I do have to say - I find it hilarious that people will actually pay for this sort of "arrangement" when there are free sites that can get the job done.

That's not to say all guys on Match are jerks. I have met a few nice guys, it just happened there was no real spark, either on my end or theirs. That's not the site's fault. I actually really like Match. I'm particularly fond of their Stir Events.

So, I found this profile back in November. Attractive, funny, seemed to have his act together (though you never know...). I winked; he winked back. So I took the initiative and sent an email. We exchanged a few, and finally agreed to meet for coffee (this was about a week later).

We met at 6 on a Monday, and talked for two hours. Honestly, we only got up to leave because the cafe was closing. We were heading in separate directions once we got outside. He looked me right in the eye and said, "I really enjoyed myself, and would like to do this again."

We texted back and forth the following week and agreed we'd meet for dinner that Saturday at 7. At 4:30 pm, I got a text message that said, "I just walked in from work, my day was much longer than I expected. I am asking if we could reschedule for Monday. I understand if you're upset." Then he signed his name to the text, like it was a letter.

I knew he was working that morning, and at first, I really didn't think much of the text. I replied saying of course I still wanted to see him, and Monday would be fine.

That was the last I heard from him.

When I thought about it more, I knew the text was a blow-off. First of all, who signs his name to a text? That made it seem more like a goodbye. Plus, he said he'd understand if I was upset, and didn't want to see him again. If you are really into someone and planning the first real date, you wouldn't risk doing anything that might send them packing. You would just suck it up and keep the date. The fact that he wasn't really said all I needed to know.

But honestly, the fact that he didn't want to see me again didn't bother me. We met once, and it was barely a date. He owed me nothing. I totally get if the guy didn't want to see me again. But there are a few things I don't get...
  • Why say you want to see me again, if you really don't? I could I understand if I asked you, and you felt pressure. That's why I never ask. I figure I'll know soon enough.
  • Having said that...why set up the second date at all? Just say no, for crying out loud! (Or, don't ask, don't tell, depending on which administration you prefer.)
  • Why try to reschedule, if what you really want is to cancel? What you should have said was, "I've changed my mind and don't want to see you again." (Feel free to copy and paste this for future use, when the truth fails you.)
I know dating is tough, and this guy is just starting back after taking a long break to raise his kids. I get that it's hard when you meet someone who is nice, and you don't want to hurt her feelings. You never really know how to say you don't want to see her again.

So let me help you out - you can start by not saying that you do want to see her again. Then don't keep in touch, or schedule another date. Eventually, she'll either go away, and you'll never have to have the difficult conversation - or she'll get so annoying that you won't care about hurting her feelings. Either way, problem solved.

But maybe it goes even deeper than that. Maybe people - men and women - need to learn that before they start dating, they should be sure they're ready for everything it involves. We spend so much time preparing ourselves to handle rejection from others, and eventually commitment and all that entails, that we never prepare ourselves to be considerate of other people's feelings.

You will meet people who want to date you, but in whom you're not interested. You will have to reject them. You should be prepared to do so with some class and respect, because that's how you would want to be treated. You can't expect to get what you're not prepared to give.

So, yeah, you definitely find more serious users on paid dating sites. I would say overall, Match users are definitely more ready for commitment and relationships.

But they still have an awful lot to learn.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dating, parents, and priorities

I'm going to preface this post by saying that you should always take what I say with a grain of salt. Sometimes - you should take it with a whole shaker.*

A lot of my single friends are parents. For the most part, they prefer to date other parents. "Non-parents just don't get it," they say to me. I think sometimes they forget that I am a non-parent.

It's cool, though. I'm not a parent by choice. It's not like it offends me or hurts my feelings to be reminded. They're right, too - I don't "get it." I mean, I'm not a moron - I understand that parents have to deal with issues that I don't. But I'm not in a position to really relate to how those issues affect their other relationships.

But that lack of understanding goes both ways. I think parents sometimes forget what it was like before they had kids.

The fact that I don't have kids does not mean I don't have a life. It does mean that, aside from my (9-5, M-F) job, there isn't a lot in my life that is an obligation. Most of what I do is a choice, and stuff I enjoy, leaving me free to reprioritize as I see fit.

Parents can't - and in many cases, don't want to, which is great. I am not being sarcastic when I say that - I have nothing but admiration for people who put their kids first, even before their own wants or needs. My dad did that for me, and I am tremendously grateful to him. I believe it made me a better person.

(It's worth noting that while my dad was doing that for me as a kid...he also didn't date.)

Relationships only work when everyone is on a level playing ground. That's true of any relationship, not just dating. Think about it - you probably know at least one person who doesn't put in as much effort to keep your friendship going. You feel like you do all the work; you're always the one reaching out, the one suggesting plans, and the one working your schedule around hers.

That wears thin after a while. No one likes to feel as though they are being given less priority than they are giving. No one likes to feel that their schedule and life is less important than another person's. Eventually, that relationship will whither.

It works the same when you're dating. Parents tend to expect that the other person will adjust her schedule, because it doesn't include kids. As a non-parent, I will tell you - 9 out of 10 times, I'm on board. I know it is easier for me to adjust my schedule, and am happy to do so.

But I still need to feel like I'm on level playing ground with you. If we just started dating, the relationship is as new for me as it is for you. If I feel like I'm making all the effort, and I am not as much of a priority for you as you are for me - that's going to be a problem.

When you agree to start dating, and especially when you agree to pursue a long-term relationship, you have to give as much as you're looking to get. Being a parent may be the most important thing in your life, and that's fine. You still signed up for this, and now you owe a little something to that other person.

I'm not saying parents should forget their kids, and I'm also not saying that non-parents shouldn't try to be a little flexible.

I'm just saying that if I'm not the most important thing in your life, don't expect that you'll be the most important thing in mine.

*In other words, I assume I'll probably p*** some people off with this post. Sorry if you're one of them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hair products to the rescue

We all know dating is difficult. A single gal needs all the help she can get. Good friends, willingness to take risks, a good place for advice, and a little confidence all go a long way in navigating the rough waters of dating. Hair products can go a long way to helping with confidence.
This post is sponsored - but I really do use
this product. I absolutely recommend it to anyone,
and can tell you Folica's price is a good one. 
So let's talk hair. 

I have always been the sort of woman who takes her hair style very seriously. I am blessed with hair that grows outrageously fast, so I can take more chances with cuts and color than some - because I know it'll grow right back (or out). 

I've joked that growing up in the 80s means that my self-confidence is directly correlated to the amount of hairspray in my hair. I'm obviously kidding about the hairspray (though I sported my share of big 80s hair), but there is something to be said for how much more confident one feels when she knows her hair is looking good.

When you like your hair, you hold your head higher. You smile more, you stand up straighter, you walk into a room without hesitation. I have had more than one guy say to me that a woman's hair is one of the first things he notices. But even if the guy whose attention you're after doesn't feel that way - he's sure to notice the confident smile from the word go.

Since I have a lot of hair, and what has been described as a "sassy" style, I am not one to skimp when it comes to hair care, or hair styling products. But, I have a lot of important ways to use my money, so making my style dollars stretch is also a priority. 

Through the magic of the Single Edition Network, I found a site called - where it's all about hair. Folica understands that your hair is an important accessory - and through January 1, they are giving customers the chance to win up to $50 instantly, to spend on great hair!

With over 60,000 hair products, 300 brands, and 70,000 customer reviews, is your source for one-stop hair-care shopping. Check them out today - and cross great hair off your holiday wish list!

Friday, December 7, 2012

It should go without saying...

I was recently asked by a prospective second date to name my favorite food. Without hestiation, I responded, "Sushi."

That was met with a disgusted look, and a request for me to name my second favorite food.

Again, without hesitation, I answered, "Mexican."

His response? "Does Taco Bell count as Mexican?"

I mulled that question over and over in my mind for days. The problem seemed obvious to me. But then I started to wonder...what else might seem obvious to some, but go completely missed by others?

When you're meeting new people, you never know what social, economic, or cultural differences you might encounter. That's especially true with online dating, where you often meet people with whom you would never have otherwise interacted.

I've dated men of different races and nationalities. I've dated guys who were rich, and I've dated men who were poorer than poor. I've dated men who barely graduated high school, and guys with multiple degrees in master and doctoral programs. So, I am abundantly qualified to make the following statement:
No man has all the answers, no matter how perfect he may seem on paper.
(For what it's worth, I'm not actually sure how proud I should be of my extensive research; I'm just qualifying my opinion.)

So, because I'm here to help...and because I've been on a lot of bad dates...and because I see no reason that all of my suffering should be in vain...I thought I'd mention a few things that I think everyone should know. Feel free, of course, to add your own in the comments.

It should go without saying that... food is not an acceptable "date" - ever should not refer to someone as "babe" until you're dating (or you have permission)
..."sooner or later" is not an acceptable response if I ask you out
...a t-shirt purchased in Wal-Mart's underwear section is not acceptable dinner attire, and
...neither are bright blue sneakers, like the ones worn by my friend's six-year-old son
...who is paying should never be sorted out in front of the restaurant staff
...if you suggest the date, you should arrive prepared to pay the entire bill (this goes for women, as well) really shouldn't be late for a date, especially when you chose the time, date, and place
...if my plate is empty and yours is full of cold food, you're probably talking too much
...using bribery and/or extortion to get dates is not only unnattractive, it rarely achieves the desired result

...there was not, nor will there be, a second date with the guy who asked me that question.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Desperate measures

I read a lot of dating profiles (mostly belonging to heterosexual males, but you'd be surprised). In nearly four years of online dating, I bet I've read hundreds - maybe thousands.

Some are funny, some are smart, some are creative - and some are just really, really dull. Many include at least one typo, suggesting the writer is human. Others contain so many mistakes, I'm left wondering if the writer even speaks English fluently.

Most of the time, a profile is really just a small glimpse of that person. If you read carefully, that small glimpse can offer a lot of insight into someone's character, personality, and what he (or she) really wants.

Sometimes, a person's profile makes him seem perfectly normal. There are no red flags, no indicators of what the bag of hair will be. No real reason to say no, if that person asks you to meet him for coffee.

Which is where my problems usually start.

Sometimes, that person will start dropping little hints in those first messages, whether they are texts or emails. Unfortunately, you might not see those hints until you've already agreed to a date. Besides - everyone deserves a chance. I mean, unless he's hinting that he might be a serial killer...then maybe don't give him a chance.

Ball Boy seemed like a good guy from his profile, and from the first few emails. It wasn't until we set up the date that I started to see signs that we might be in different places. He was obviously nervous - and he made a couple of mistakes that weren't a big deal on their own. When I tallied up the evening, though, it all added up to one very uncomfortable hour with a guy in whom I was not really that interested.

It was obvious Ball Boy is just getting back into dating, after having been married for a long time. He did not rush into dating (which is a good thing); but he seems at a point where he's willing to rush into a relationship. That became even more evident when he pursued me after the date, saying that everything we had in common made him feel there was a connection. (Side note: Liking the same baseball team and TV shows is not a love connection.)

Maybe that's unfair. Maybe he really is just "ready" for a relationship. Thing is, I have found (more than once) that a person thinking he's ready means he'll get into a relationship without hesitation. Which is great - provided he's doing so for the right reason.

Sometimes people are ready, and jump into a relationship with the first person they find, who even remotely fits the criteria they want. To me, that's not ready - that's desperate.

I know I complain (a lot) about meeting people who say they're ready, and then hesitate. It's frustrating and exhausting because I keep meeting the wrong people, keep starting the same thing over, and I keep getting left in the dust.

While there are certainly better ways to handle walking away, there is something to be said for people who at least know themselves well enough to know when a relationship isn't for them.

The people who just rush right into something, even though it should be obvious that there is no connection, are just as bad. Sometimes, they're even worse. I have had guys go black hole after the first date, and I have had men fake entire relationships because they "thought they'd fall in love with me."

Trust me - the latter hurts a lot worse.

Anyone looking for a relationship will tell you it's difficult. Most will tell you the toughest thing is meeting other people. I disagree.

I think the most difficult thing is knowing yourself; knowing what you want, and what you need, and being honest with yourself about what is really, truly a good idea.

That sort of honesty is especially tough when the noise of all the people you're meeting makes it hard to hear your own thoughts. Sometimes, you have to do something drastic - like step away.

After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dating coach

So, Ball Boy and I agreed to meet for coffee. It seemed like we had some things in common, and at first I was really looking forward to meeting him in person.

Prior to meeting, he messaged me online - and he continued to do so, until I told him I had things to do, and would just seem him later. He admitted he was nervous; that he had never "met someone online" before. Are there rules, he asked?

Oh, boy.

I could already sense that maybe this wasn't going to go so well.

I told him that, to me anyway, dating sites are just a way to say hello to someone who you might not run into otherwise. After that initial exchange, it's really just like any other dating, and the same "rules" apply.

Rules like, never let 'em see you sweat...keep a little mystery...she can't miss you if you won't go away...don't talk about yourself too much...don't bring up your ex (unless you're asked)...come prepared...

He needs a rule book.

He showed up at the date a few minutes late (remember, he picked the day, time, and place). We walked into the coffee shop, where he he asked if I minded "going Dutch" because he only had $5 to his name until tomorrow, when he gets paid.

I truly don't mind paying on a date - ever. But I couldn't help but wonder - why suggest meeting today if money was an issue?

I handed the barista my credit card to pay for both drinks - and Ball Boy promptly handed me a $5 bill. I had no intention of taking this guy's last penny, and I shook my head. He wouldn't let it go, and kept trying to shove the money into my purse.

More rules: Don't ever touch my purse....don't embarrass me in public...

I took the money to put an end to that embarrassing moment. We sat down, and Ball Boy proceeded to tell me all about himself...and his ex-wife. All that had happened, how he had felt, how lonely he is he wonders if he could ever go back with her...

Oh. My. Goodness.

That date only lasted about an hour. I deflected his question about getting together again (he was nice, and I did feel bad). He messaged me the next day, and I explained that I just didn't feel a connection, and didn't see us ever being more than just friends. It took a while for him to get that message - but he finally did.

I don't actually think there's any such thing as "rules" when it comes to dating. Dating involves people, and everyone is different. Every combination of people is also different, and what works for one couple will not work for another. Example: I don't want to hear about your ex, or know you're nervous, or have you offer to pay for your hot chocolate; someone else might.

But if there's one thing that could pass for a good dating rule, I'd have to say it'd be to set the tone. If you want to set yourself up for a second date, make sure you treat her like you're on a date - not hanging out with a good friend, talking about your problems.

I can be your date - or I can be your dating coach. I can not be both.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Play ball

The thing about bad decisions is, they can lead to really good stories. I mean, let's face it, if you always do exactly what you should, when you should, a lot of lessons will go unlearned.

I napped from dating for a short time, but I'll be the first to admit - I got bored. Maybe it's because I'm restless, or impatient, or a hopeless romantic who is ready to find the love of her life. Maybe it's becasue I need more apps on my phone, or more hobbies.

Whatever the reason, I un-hid my profiles on two dating sites, to see what might happen.

That was bad decision number one.

I went on three dates with three different guys; two I approached, one approached me. (Side Note: Singles who say meeting someone is difficult are wrong. Meeting someone is easy; meeting someone worth meeting - that's the challenge.)

The one who approached me seemed very nice. While not necessarily my type physically, it seemed like we had a lot in common, and he seemed to really have his act together. Since those things are much more important than looks, I agreed to meet him for coffee.

He chose the place, the time, and the date. That's important to remember for later.

One of the guys I approached turned out to have a job in the "adult" industry. I won't say exactly what, since some of you are locals and I don't want to out the poor guy. Seriously good looking guy - but his job, and history made us a less than desirable match.

What's interesting is these dates took place on the same day. Bummer that I couldn't mesh them together and make a really, really datable guy. But that's not possible - yet, anyway. I'm sure someone's working on it (SN: If you are - call me!).

The last guy seemed to have it all; polite, funny, smart, attractive, success, etc. We went out the following week, and had a lovely two-hour conversation, after which he said he wanted to see me again. Without prompting from me - that's also important to remember for later.

I am sure you can figure out how these dates played out...but if you want to hear more, stay tuned....

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back later

I'm home sick. Actually, technically I'm home because of back pain - the medication for which has made me sick.

It sucks to get old.

I will be "back" soon, to share a few bad decisions.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Can we talk?

A friend posted this article from CNN on facebook the other day. It's part of a larger series they're doing on Our Mobile Society.

I'm pretty mobile. OK - if the truth be told, I'm probably one (very short) step away from needing a twelve-step program to treat Nomophobia.
You do not want to talk to me on the phone. How do I know? Because I don't want to talk to you on the phone. Nothing personal, I just can't stand the thing.
I find it intrusive and somehow presumptuous. It sounds off insolently whenever it chooses and expects me to drop whatever I'm doing and, well, engage. With others! When I absolutely must, I take the call, but I don't do a very good job of concealing my displeasure.
So it was with profound relief that I embraced the arrival of e-mail and, later, texting. They meant a conversation I could control — utterly. I get to say exactly what I want exactly when I want to say it. It consumes no more time than I want it to and, to a much greater degree than is possible with a phone call, I get to decide if it takes place at all. That might make me misanthropic. It surely makes me a crank. But it doesn't make me unusual.
This describes me perfectly. I'm from a generation that, at one time, only had phones that were attached to the wall by a cord. I actually liked talking on the phone with my friends - but when it came to communicating with guys, I was at a loss.

You can imagine how relieved I was that email and texting had sky-rocketed in popularity by the time I re-entered the dating scene. Honestly, if they hadn't, I'd probably already have my crazy-cat-lady laminated ID card.

Online dating sites, texting, and email are great for meeting someone not already in your circle, and for casual conversation while you get to know each other. But I'm starting to think that what this article says is very true for me; it all has a profoundly negative effect on my ability to communicate with guys once we're in any sort of relationship.

I've mentioned before that in my family, we only discuss feelings or emotions when we're fighting. I also mentioned that I believe my following in these foot-steps was at least one way in which I contributed to my failed marriage.

But since I'm a grown-up (technically) who wants a grown-up relationship - I suppose at some point I need to stop blaming societal trends and my family's own dysfunction, and pick up the damn ball and run with it myself.

I know I have a lot of work to do. I may even need to put the phone down and actually talk to someone - like, face to face.

I suppose talking to my cats doesn't count?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

In the cards

So, I went for a tarot card reading a couple of weeks ago. For those who have never been, you sit down with a reader and while shuffling the deck, you concentrate on a question. When you feel comfortable, you lay the cards down and cut the deck. The reader then turns over multiple cards and lays them out in front of you.

This is the fourth time I've had my cards read. It's been about two years since my last reading, and I don't remember exactly how those readers placed the cards on the table. I do remember it was different than this most recent reading - so I'm thinking there are different ways to arrange the cards once the deck is cut.

This most recent reader layed out nine cards; three columns, with three cards each. The first column represented my past, the second my present and the third, my future.

My past showed a Strength card, along with a Two of Wands and a Four of Swords. The Two of Wands indicates that in my recent past, I have been looking at new horizons. The Four of Swords shows that I was in a time of reflection, or that perhaps I was stagnant somehow (either literally or figuratively), and being "stuck" is what led me to make some changes. The Strength card paired with these two suggests I'm being challenged - and by not pushing or resisting, I will get stronger.

My present showed an Ace of Cups, Death, and Fool cards. The Ace of Cups is particularly good news with respect to relationships. It suggests I'm in a season of positive opportunity. In this case (as in most readings) the Death card is not a literal, physical death, but a sign of transition; one thing is ending, while another begins. In my case, a recent loss of identity is forcing the transition that is bringing the opportunity - which is good, but frustrating to me because the way things are happening is not within my control.

My future showed a Ten of Rods, Wheel of Fortune and an Ace of Pentacles. The Ace of Pentacles is good news for career. The Wheel of Fortune suggests that positve changes are in my near future, but they are not within my control. In order to reap the rewards, I need to be open and let the opportunities happen, regardless of how they look. The Ten of Rods suggests that my plans are in their final stages.

In a nutshell - I am in a good place, having made some positive changes. Though neither the changes nor the opportunities look like I might have planned or expected, by remaining open, I will get to an even better place. Overall, I'm in a season of major change and growth in a lot of ways. It's all positive, but intimidating to me because it is out of my control, and not like I planned.

Which all sounds a little familiar to me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Take it from me

A lot of people ask me for advice on dating - what to say, how to write a profile, how to read a guy. I suppose this is because I've been dating for almost four years.

I'm also asked for advice on singlehood - again, I suppose because in between my brief relationships over the last few years, I've become somewhat of an expert at being single.

I'm rarely (if ever) asked for advice about marriage. I suppose that makes sense. I mean - I'm divorced. By default, I'm not really qualified to give advice on how to have a "successful" marriage.

It's a little funny to me that people think of me as an "expert" in something at which I'm relatively new, and a complete failure at something I did for most of my adult life. After all, I was cohabitating/married a lot longer than I've been divorced and living on my own.

I think maybe it's less about how long you did what, and more about what you've done most recently.

Things change as you go through life. When you're in your twenties, never married, and no kids - "single" looks much different than it does when you're divorced in your thirties and raising kids on your own. In your twenties, it's new and exciting. In your thirties, it's a failure, and something you never thought you'd have to figure out.

So the thirty-year-old single woman can't really offer a lot of guidance to the twenty-year-old. After all - she's not dealing with the same things. It's possible she never did; but even if she's been where her friend is, things are different and the rules have changed.

Longevity means very little, too. There are a ton of couples out there who have been married for a long time. Does that automatically qualify them to give advice on how to have a good marriage? I don't think so. Many of them are married only  because they don't believe in divorce.

No one really needs advice on how to not get divorced - just don't. By the same token, no one really needs advice on how to find a date and/or a mate. Find someone devoted to you, and stick with him.

When people want advice, what they're looking for is advice on how to do something right. How do I make my marriage good and satisfying and healthy so that neither of us wants a divorce? How do I go about finding the person who best fits my life, and what I want and need from a relationship?

There's so much relationship advice out there. If you're not careful, it will chase you around every corner. Books, blogs, magazines...movies, name it, someone is looking to share her "expert" advice.

Around these parts, I'm the expert (Ha - you're all screwed!). Want to know what I think?

No one can give you the perfect advice. At best, she can offer an objective, constructive opinion based on what she's learned about herself, and what she knows about you. She can share her own experiences, and tell you what worked for her and what didn't.

In the end, it's up to you to sift through the information and figure out what will work best for you. In order to do that - you need to really know yourself.

That is the best advice I have to offer to anyone.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm positive

I think we're all born with a positive self-image. The problem starts on day two - when the world and the people around us first begin to challenge our self-esteem.

It never stops.

We all have our confidence challenged every day. If you don't think of yourself as pretty, you probably think your beautiful friend has it all together. What you don't realize is that she feels like a failure at work. If you don't like your body, you may assume that woman at the gym knows that her physique is awesome. You may never realize that she feels like she's failing as a parent.

I used to believe that a person could see herself as a failure in one area, but be totally confident in the others. I don't think that way anymore. I have known too many people who lost confidence in one area, and watched as it spilled over into every other part of their lives. If you think you're failing your kids or you have failed in your career, you won't make that relationship work. Somewhere, deep down, you're telling yourself you can't.

If you're like me, you don't attract a ton of guys. You're probably cute - but only marginally. People like you - but not in a head-over-heels sort of way.

You've probably also spent the better part of your single life figuring that if only you could be one of the "pretty girls," with guys flocking around you at the bar and blowing up your phone, you'd feel better about yourself.

I have bad news: This is not the case.

Yes, there is a definite ego-boost from knowing people like you. That's actually a big reason you find so many women on dating sites. Many don't want to find a relationship - they want to find guys who will pay them some attention, and give their confidence a little lift.

But is that really confidence? Confidence is defined as:
Belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance
By its very definition, confidence comes from you believing in you. I would submit that means it can not be something that comes from anyone else.

Most of us enter the dating world after a breakup (for some of us, this happens more often than others...whatever). Your confidence will never be lower than just after that kind of rejection. Even if the breakup was your idea - somewhere in your mind, you still failed. Your confidence is still shaken.

The absolute worst thing you can do is start dating, figuring that you'll find someone to boost your self-esteem.

It can't be done. He can boost your ego - "that part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world" - but that's not the same. If you get all your confidence by reacting to what others think, then guess what? It will only work when others treat you positively. The minute anyone treats you negatively - your confidence will be shattered.

Shields Up
The only way to truly build your own self-confidence is to figure out what tore it down in the first place. What chips away at it every day? How can you - on your own - rebuild your self-esteem? What can you do to wake each day knowing that no matter what anyone else says or does, you will have a good, positive day, and see yourself in the best way possible?

I suppose the best way to do all that is different for each one of us. No matter how we do it, we all have to acknowledge that confidence isn't something that can be built once, and expected to last. It will be challenged every day of your life.

You need to be prepared to defend it as often.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Choose positive

I joke a lot, and sarcastically say, "If it could happen to anyone...." Whenever Trooper would hear me talk like that, he would always say, "Don't speak that into existence."

Trooper taught me a lot about the power of positive thinking. When I spent time with him, I started expecting good things to happen. They did - until that boat sank. It hurt so much, it was easy to fall back into the habit of waiting for the other shoe to drop any time things were looking good. I convinced myself that the only way to avoid hurt like that was to not to let myself be positive.

I know I can still see good, because I'm always speaking positive things for others. A friend wanted a new job...I encouraged him until it happened. Another friend wanted things to go well with a new guy...and I kept saying, "It will, it will." And it is.

But when it comes to my own life, I always feel like I have to prepare for the worst. I expect the bad, and tell myself it's just to protect my feelings when the the potential let-down hits.

But recently, I've started to wonder - is that what I'm doing? Or am I just speaking bad things into existence?

I realize if I hope for something specific, it might not happen. If I look back at all the things I have really wanted that never panned out, I can see how it turned out better. So I know things in my life are happening as they should.

Why can't I focus on that? Hope for the good things. Think on the positive; speak about it. Hope for the best. If it doesn't happen - sure, I'll be disappointed. I just need to remind myself that if one thing doesn't work out as I hoped, it's probably just because something better is coming along.

History proves that.

In the meantime, I get to be happy because I'm hopeful. When I'm happy, I embrace the good I already have. When I see the good - I care less when the bad actually happens.

So if I choose to be positive - I can actually change the way my life looks, even if I can't always control my own circumstances.

And to think....this idea hit me while I was at the gym.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I have....

I'm trying to think more positively, and focus on what I do have, instead of the one little thing that I'm missing.

I believe it's coming. I feel like I'm ready for true, honest, healthy love to come into my life, and I'm open to letting it in when it arrives. In the meantime, I don't want to focus on what I don't have. I'd rather concentrate on all the things that I do have.

So, in the spirit of the holiday - I'm thankful I have:
  • A good job
  • Side work that I love
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Wonderful friends
  • Kids who love me
  • As much unconditional love as cats can give
  • Nice house that's my own.
  • (Mostly) paid bills
  • A great family
  • Chocolate
  • Sushi
  • Shemar Moore
  • Derek Jeter
  • (OK, so I don't actually have them - but they make me smile)
  • Presents
  • Jewelry
  • Shoes
  • Purses
  • Cozy sweaters
  • Comfy jeans
  • A car that's good in snow
  • Humor
  • Laughter
  • Warmth
  • Sarcasm
....and Shine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How to go black hole

"If he's trying to blow you off, he's doing a lousy job."

When we first started talking, we texted everyday. In my mind, that set an expectation.

After we met, the texting dwindled. I asked what was up, and he said all was OK with us, that he'd just had a lot going on. I knew what had been happening, and it wasn't something he could lie about or invent. But then I didn't hear from him. For nearly a week.

I assumed he'd been sucked into the black hole, and I would not be hearing from him again. Then, out of nowhere, I get a text asking if I could get together the following week.

Confused, I asked - again. I hate to do that, because I was even annoying myself at that point. But the whole thing made no sense - who jumps in the black hole, and then jumps back out with a date? That's new.

He insisted he wasn't blowing me off, and that he wouldn't - "If I wasn't interested, I'd say so." I let it go, but was still convinced the black hole was trying to suck him back. That's when my friend said he's doing a lousy job at blowing me off.

Which makes me wonder - maybe he's new at this, and needs some tips? We all know I'm here to help, so if you're going black hole....

- Stop texting; for the love of all that's good - don't call.
- If she texts you, don't reply right away. In fact, only reply after she's sent about five texts.
- When you do reply, be as vague and short as possible.
- Under no circumstances should you set a date, or agree to one if asked.
- Never, ever tell her that you really are interested; she might actually believe you, and then you're stuck.

You may be thinking...wouldn't it be easier to just tell her I'm not interested? Duh. If you know you're not interested, you could take that sincere, honest, mature, respectful approach. I mean - extreme circumstances and all.

But going black hole isn't always about knowing what you want. Sometimes, you go black hole because you think there might be something better - but you're not entirely sure you want to give up on this person quite yet. In a case like that, avoiding her might not work. Most women will take just so much of that, before they're gone for good.

If you need to keep her hanging on just a little bit longer, try a nicely worded, properly-vague excuse like,

- I've got too much going on right now to focus on this relationship.
- I really need to work on myself.

This should put her off enough that she leaves you alone, while still leaving you an opening to sneak back in, should whatever else you've got going not work out.


You should establish your reason for going black hole first - is it because you're not interested, or you're not sure? This is important because confusing reasons and methods will not work.

Excuses, reasons, and explanations should be kept as vague as possible. Should you try to sneak back into the opening, you will have to remember what you said, and be prepared to explain what changed. The fewer the details, the better.

These methods should only be used on naive, immature women with a slighly lower self-esteem. Those women tend to fall for the half-truths more than others.

Trying these methods with a woman who knows how the game is played will backfire. She will see right through you, and probably use your own words and games against you at some point. Because, let's face it, women are just as good at the games as men - but we're also much meaner..

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The worst thing to say in a dating profile

I've already listed, and explained, the first nine of my Top Ten worst things to say on an online dating profile. Now it's time to talk about number one.

1 - I'm not looking to rush into anything.

Why is this number one? Probably because it appears harmless - until it circles back and bites you in the jeans.

By far the biggest complaint I hear about online dating is that people on dating sites are not serious. They're either not ready for a real relationship, or just looking for a hook-up.

I think it's true that there are a lot of these people on dating sites. But I think that's true of any large population of single adults, particularly those who are divorced and in their thirties or forties. Let's face it - you aren't going to find a higher concentration of these people anywhere than on a dating site. Statistically speaking, you are going to find more people who are not serious than who are.

That same basic math also tells us that the proverbial needle in the haystack is there, if you keep looking. That man (or woman) who knows what he wants, and really wants to find an actual, honest relationship.

Every site is different in how they present profiles, but they all follow a similar formula. You answer a series of "fill in the box" type questions, and then provide some narrative to expand on who you are, and what you want.

One of those boxes always asks what you're looking for. It's usually answered with a drop-down menu, with possible answers along the lines of: Long-term relationship, marriage, casual sex, friends, pen-pals, casual dating. Some sites let you pick more than one; other sites want you to more closely zero-in on your intent.

There are a lot - a lot - of people on dating sites who think they want a relationship. Or worse yet, they want to want a relationship. When they find one, they either get scared and run away, leaving the other person hurt and confused, or they fake the relationship. That can't last forever, and will eventually leave that other person even more hurt and confused.

But they still answer that they are "looking for a relationship" because ultimately, they believe that is what they want. 

In general - I believe them. Even the immature scaredy-cats who probably really aren't ready to date seriously. I believe they sincerely want a relationship, have come to the site looking to meet the right person, and I believe they eventually will.

I also believe they will leave a lot of collateral damage in their wake - and if you're not careful, you can easily become part of the wreckage.

So whenever I see a guy who says he is "looking for a relationship," I always take that with a grain of salt. I like to read a profile, and look for little phrases that hint at what he actually wants.

Nobody wants to feel pressured, or uncomfortable. It would be anybody's inclination to run from a situation that made them feel that way. So naturally, no one wants to feel "rushed" into anything.

The thing is - that goes without saying. If it needed clarification, there would be a drop-down menu item that said "I'm looking for a high-stress relationship that makes me feel suffocated and on the verge of a panic attack." There isn't - because no one would choose that option.

If I'm reading your profile, I'm already assuming that what you want is the right situation with the right person. I'm also assuming that, if you're an adult ready for that relationship you say you want, then you're ready to take things at the right pace. With the right person, it won't feel "rushed."

But if you're saying right up front you don't want to feel "rushed," that tells me that any and every sign of a relationship feels like a "rush" to you. After all, if you were really open to finding a relationship, then the first words you say or type wouldn't be negative, placing a limit on a relationship that doesn't even exist yet.

So no matter your drop-down answer, that phrase tells me the truth: I should proceed with extreme caution (if at all) because you may not really be ready for a relationship.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Top ten worst things to say in an online dating profile

I took a break from my dating nap to troll review some online dating profiles for friends. No, seriously, this all did start because I went looking for a friend.

We know the major problems with online dating profiles: Spelling and grammatical errors, swearing, racist or sexist comments (or really, any sort of "ists"), insults, etc.

But I think sometimes genuinely nice guys who truly mean well choose their words poorly, and come across in a way that isn't what they intend. So I put together a list of ten phrases that send me running, and why. You're welcome.

10 - No bipolar/crazy women
Also seen as: Drama queens need not apply, or any derivative thereof.
This suggests that you meet a lot of "crazy" women. Which tells me you are probably a little crazy yourself - "birds of a feather" and all. It also suggests that you may be the sort of guy who takes perfectly normal women and makes them crazy, which explains why all the women you meet are crazy.

9   - I love to laugh
No kidding - who doesn't? Tell me something that's not obvious.

8   - I'm lonely
Bad news. This suggest you're clingy and/or just looking for a warm body to fill a void. That means that as soon as you figure out what you really want, whatever poor soul is with you at the time will probably be dropped like yesterday's garbage. Who would sign up for that?

7   - I like to go out, but I also like to stay in
This suggests either a) you don't know what you like or b) you are that guy who just says whatever he thinks the other person wants to hear. If you like to go out - say so! Any reasonable person will assume that you are also willing to stay home now and then.

6   - I'm looking for a "good" woman
What, exactly, does this mean? The only thing slightly worse would be saying you're looking for a "good girl." Seriously? I would not respond to that - because I am a woman. If you're looking for a girl, I'm probably not for you.

5   - I hate liars
Again - who doesn't? Don't state the obvious, and don't let on that you assume all women are liars. Also, for the love of all that's good - it's liars, not liers.

4   - I know what a woman wants
This assumes that you think all women want the same thing - which proves that you have absolutely no idea what women want. Also, let's face it - if you had nothing to learn, you would probably not be single.

3   - I'm just checking this out
Why not just write, "I'm looking for an easy out, because I don't really want to commit" and get it over with?

2   - I'm not after your money
Seen also as: I can take care of myself; I have a life, a car, all my teeth,etc.
This tells me you've been rejected a lot - and that you think it's because women assume you're a loser. Thing is - there are plenty of women willing to date losers. If there is something so wrong with you that not even they will talk to you - why should I?

1   - .....Look for tomorrow's post....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Just so we're clear

Big broke up with me...and I dated a few guys right away. Too soon, it turned out, and I did a love cleanse to get some perspective. Then I took nearly a year to focus on myself - took care of some personal goals, got a new career started, reconnected with friends, and nurtured some new relationships. Sometimes I casually dated, but there was nothing serious.

Then I met Trooper...and I really believed that was a good thing. My mistake.

I did another thirty day cleanse. I started some new volunteer opportunities, which I love, and have become a big part of my life. Then met someone. We dated. I could have stuck with it, but I ultimately decided that being alone for the right reasons was better than being with someone for the wrong reasons. So I walked away from what was, in many ways, a good relationship, because I decided I wanted more for myself. 

I met a couple of other guys. Decided if it didn't work, I was going to take another break. I took a short break, then I went on a few dates. Now, I'm on a pseudo-break.

I'm by no means perfect. I know I make a lot of mistakes, and my choices are sometimes questionable at best. 

But I am not a complete failure, either. I have grown, and changed, and learned an awful lot since that first heart break 2+ years ago. I am a better person - and I know myself a lot better. 

Sure, I've gone on dates because I was bored. I have gone on dates simply to find fodder for this blog. But occasionally, I go on dates because somehow, I've come across a man who seems interesting, and I want to give him a chance. 

At a party not too long ago, a friend said his advice to a single friend was that maybe she needed to accept that she may never find anyone. He hypothesized that coming to terms with that reality, and being genuinely OK with her single life, would be the catalyst to finding true love.

Which makes sense, if you think about it. I mean, leave it to a guy to show up just as you've accepted that you don't really need him, and screw up everything. 

Just so we're clear - I like being single. I enjoy my life. I am not willing to settle just so I can say I'm in a relationship. I know my life is good just the way it is. 

I waiver between accepting that I won't find a relationship, and hoping that I just might. It's a tough balance, and from the outside looking in, it might not seem I have it under control.

But I do.

I used to hope for a relationship - when I went out with anyone who asked, and my only criteria was that he be willing to stick around. Then I hoped for that relationship - when I had a specific list of criteria, and rejected anyone who wasn't exactly perfect.

Now I hope for the relationship - the one that will show me why it never worked out with the rest.

It's a tough balance between hoping for something special, and being content with what I already have. It's like self-esteem - a tough balance between being proud of who you are, while still striving to improve. 

Just so we're clear...I'll never be perfect. I'll just always be me. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaks are not for dating

"Just take a break. It'll happen when you least expect."
A friend of mine, recently divorced, told me that this seems to be the number one piece of advice she gets on dating (and, she noted, it usually comes from people already in a relationship).

Her feeling is that she knows exactly what she wants, but it isn't going to fall in her lap. If she doesn't put herself out there, she'll never find the relationship she wants.

I tend to agree with her.

That's not to say that I don't believe in taking a break now and then - and I told her as much. Whether it's a minor break or a full-on, four-alarm love cleanse, I feel like we all need to step back now and then.

But I think it's worth noting that taking a break should be for you. A break is for your life - for your sanity, and peace of mind. A break is not about dating.

I have said over and over that I believe dating is as much learning about yourself as it is meeting new people. The more people you date, the more you learn about what you like, and don't, and what you really need and want in a relationship. You might find that things you thought were deal-breakers really aren't; and that you really care about things you never thought were important.

You learn all of this by spending time with other people. So it makes sense to me that if you're going to learn about yourself, you're going to need to spend some time with you.

What I don't agree with is that this is "dating advice." Spending time alone or persuing interests not involved with relationships is excellent advice for any single person - or anyone, for that matter. It builds confidence, helps you grow as a person, learn new things, meet new people, and generally be a better you.

If you're single, that will certainly help with dating. But if you're truly taking a break, dating won't be the focus of how you spend that time.

The advice I often get is to go out and join a group (community, church, volunteer, sports, etc.) to meet people. Same thing - this is great advice if you're looking to find something new you like to do. It's good advice if you're looking to meet friends with similar interests.

It's not good dating advice.

Yes, you may meet new people, either immediately or by expanding your social circle. But you can not design your hobbies and interests around activities that are likely to attract single men in your age-group who are looking to date.

Love, and life, just don't work that way.

It's probably time that we singles (and you married folk who feel so bad for us) just accept that life happens in its own time. We each have to do what feels right for our life, and do the best with what we've got and what we know. If you feel it's time to take a break - you should. If you feel like you want to date like it's your job - go for it. I know people who have found true love both ways.

The point is to do whatever is best for you - so that you're ready for whatever life, or love, brings your way.

Because like it or not - love shows up in its own time, not yours.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A lesson in hope

I spent a day at the gym, distracting myself with pain and sweat, trying to think through all the different lessons that I've learned over the last few years. I came up with quite a few before my legs screamed, "Go home!"

I've talked before about communication and self-esteem. Those are big ones for me. The good news is, those things are within my control. I can decide to improve communication, and I can choose to see myself in a different light.

But this is love I'm talking about here - it's not all in my control. A lot of it is luck and timing and just what fate and God and the universe and Cupid have planned.

So where does hope fall in all of this?

It's a funny thing, hope. Too much, and you set yourself up with unrealistic expectations - and huge let-downs. Not enough, and you don't look forward to anything. Where's the balance? What's the right amount?

Part of me doesn't want to hope. Ever. I feel like every time I let myself be even the tiniest bit positive, I have the rug pulled out from underneath me. But another part of me thinks that life is just better with hope. You never know if the next day might be the best day of your life - but without hope, you'll never get there.

Maybe the trick is to hope for the best. Hope for things to turn out the way they're meant to. Speak positive thoughts. Smile more than not. Laugh whenever possible. Be prepared for a little disappointment, but realize that even when that happens, something good could still be on its way.

I think the trick is have just enough hope that you know there's something good in your future, but not so much that you miss out on your present because you're always looking ahead.

I guess I'll start by hoping I can do all of that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Patience is not one of my virtues

I've never been patient. I have always been the sort of person who wants what she wants - along with when and how. Even as a kid, I never liked to wait. I hate not knowing the answers or what's coming next.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why dating gets me down so easily. I want to understand why I react the way I do, so that I can change my outlook and help myself manage better. After all - I don't control when/if I find a relationship. I need to be able to wait, not know, and not control.

Baking Suit suggested maybe my most recent "lesson" is, at least partly, a lesson in patience.
"You live a life of instant gratification. You go where you want, when you want, with whom you want. You buy what you want and do what you want. You're not used to waiting. Maybe that's what you're supposed to be learning." 
I considered the same thing, but hearing her say it convinced me even more that this is a lesson I really need to learn. Even my counselor suggested that maybe waiting, being patient, and accepting I can't control everything is something at which I need to improve.

The truth is, whether things work out with this guy, or the next guy, or no guy ever... I need to work on being OK with not being in control. It's OK to not always be in charge.

I need to learn patience.

I hope it doesn't take too long.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lesson learned already

"I believe God has a plan. Just wish He'd stop with all the false alarms." 
"They're considered lessons. God doesn't test us, but He does allow us to learn lessons. We keep making the same mistakes until the lesson has been learned."
I was talking with a friend about how I'm tired of meeting all the wrong guys, and while I trust that there is a plan for me that includes the right guy - I'd just like to get on with it already.

I thought about what my friend said, and I think she's right. There have been lessons that I needed to learn. But like I said to her...

I've got the lesson down about not staying with the wrong guy just to be in a relationship. I've absolutely mastered the guy who says he's interested, only to disappear. I'm a black-belt in guys who get into a relationship, only to drop me like a hot potato just when things seem to be going along nicely.

So what the heck is left?!

I have been over and over and over this in my head. It's probably irrational, but I have myself convinced that if I can figure out what the lesson is, I can learn it, and then true love will just fall out of the sky and land at my doorstep. Preferably on a good hair-day.

I know it probably won't happen exactly that way...but if there's a lesson to be learned, I'd still like to figure it out, if only for myself.

I've been talking about it a lot...but I think for me, communication is one of the biggest lessons. I'm just not good at it - at least not when it comes to a significant other. When I was married, the only time we "communicated" was when we fought. The rest of the time, we kind of just hummed through life as though everything was fine. That was probably largely my fault, because that's the way my family operates, and it's the way I was raised.

Since I've learned to associate communication with fighting, I'm constantly afraid that if I attempt to communicate with a guy, he'll perceive it as me picking a fight. Since I don't want to fight - I avoid communication.

Which isn't really working out so well for me.

I was absolutely horrible with Big. I improved a little with Trooper. I got incredibly good at it with Sparrow. I'd really like it if the universe could send me the guy who can help me pass that final exam. I think I'm ready. I finally realize that saying what's on my mind isn't the same as fighting - now I just need someone to help me practice.

Connected to all of this is a lesson in my own self-esteem. I need to remember that my feelings and desires and worries are just as important as the other person's. I learned to not feel that way from a previous relationship (Pre-X) that I never talk about, because it was quite painful. He was simply awful to me - abusive in every way. It's amazing how long we carry some things in life. I didn't even realize how big this guy's impact on me was until after X and I separated.

He convinced me that what I want in a relationship is far less important than what the other person wants. He also convinced me that if I don't give the other person everything he wants - I'm not good enough. He sealed the deal by making sure I always knew how fat, ugly, and stupid I am.

Great guy. Found him at the mall. Probably why I look for guys on the internet now. 

So how do I get over that? There are a million techniques, and I know them all. My self-esteem is a fight - but it's one that I'm winning. I think the big thing when it comes to relationships is not to let the other person affect how I see myself.

I am that girl who lets guys affect her self-esteem. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely have my own identity, and for the most part, I feel absolutely wonderful about myself.

But when I like someone, and he doesn't like me back - the wheels fall off. Before I know it, I'm right back in my 19-year-old self's shoes, sick to my stomach because I'm not good enough. Then I start trying to fix whatever I did wrong - making promises and changes, practically begging for another chance.

I notice it a lot when guys go AWOL. I get bummed, and down on myself. It's frustrating because I know better; I know not to expect more from someone than what he's promised, and I know that if someone disappears, it says more about him than it does me. Yet, I can easily get really bummed over one guy.

If that were any of my friends, I'd tell her to get her head on straight. That she's beautiful and smart, and if this guy was too stupid to see how lucky he was to have a chance with her, then he's not worth a second of worry. I'd be right, too.

So why can't I just take my own advice?

I get it. I know the right person will see me for the fabulous person I am. I also know the people who don't see it are obviously not right for me - and so their opinions don't even really matter. Knowing isn't the problem; I struggle with remembering in the moment.

Still, I know I'm getting the hang of this lesson. Know how? Any other time I feel rejected, the first thing I do is look for validation from another guy. I text a guy I already know; or more likely, I jump online and find someone new.

Not this time. This time, I'd already decided that if recovery was necessary, I would do it on my own. That I don't need anyone else to remind me how wonderful I am. I decided it's time to learn to remind myself.

So I may not have mastered this lesson yet - but I'm just about there.

Time to sweep off the doorstep and grab my hair dryer.