Thursday, January 31, 2013

NaBloPoMo - A February project

Baking Suit turned me on to the NaBloPoMo February Writing Prompts over at BlogHer.

If you're not familiar, writing prompts are intended to give bloggers inspiration, and to encourage writing - something, anything - every day. While I'm not an everyday writer, I do like to schedule as much as I can to post everyday.

Coming off the heels of a very tough bad-for-me pseudo-relationship, and having just met an amazing man about whom I'm not quite ready to write (jury is still out on how amazing), writing prompts are perfect.

For the next 28 days, we'll discuss:

Friday, February 1, 2013
When was the last time you said, "I love you."?

Monday, February 4, 2013
Tell us about your first crush.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
How old were you the first time you fell in love?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Do you remain friends with ex-boyfriends/girlfriends after you break up?

Thursday, February 7, 2013
Describe your ideal date night.

Friday, February 8, 2013
Name the most romantic movie of all time.

Monday, February 11, 2013
What is your ideal Valentine's Day celebration?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
What is your favourite Valentine's Day candy?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
If you could send out valentines this year as you did back in grade school, what type of valentine would you send out to your blogosphere class?

Thursday, February 14, 2013
How do you feel about Valentine's Day?

Friday, February 15, 2013
How did this Valentine's Day compare with Valentine's days of years past?

Monday, February 18, 2013
What is the most romantic book you've ever read?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Martin Luther King Jr. unpacked love and hate when he said, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." Which is easier for you to feel: love or hate?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Erich Fromm said, "Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says 'I need you because I love you'." How do you define mature love?

Thursday, February 21, 2013
Do you think people can live without love?

Friday, February 22, 2013
Aristotle said, "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." Do you agree or disagree?

Monday, February 25, 2013
Do you think you would enjoy being a "sex symbol?"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Do you think sex education should come from the parents, the school, or a mix of both?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Mae West described sex as "emotion in motion." Unpack this idea in a post.

Thursday, February 28, 2013
When do you feel your sexiest?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cradle jumpers

In an effort to find more trouble blog material, I restored my OK Cupid profile last week. I'd hidden it over the summer after meeting Sparrow, and honestly forgot all about it after I started dating again. But Plenty of Fish has been getting me into nothing but trouble and heartache lately, and Match is full of men who want a housewife and mom-to-be - so I figured what could this hurt?

If you've never used it, OK Cupid is a very interactive site. The home page is set up like a newsfeed, with the latest activity for all users. Users are invited to comment (which shows up in the form of a private message) on new photos, answers to profile questions, etc. The site (and phone app) notify you of every visitor, and give you an extra heads-up if a visitor is a particularly good match. The site is bright, with a pastel logo, and questions and profile set up that read like a Facebook quiz.

You can probably imagine the demographic OK Cupid seems to attract - young, and very attached to the online world. It's not really surprising, then, that within ten minutes of restoring my profile, I had emails from a 28 year old, a 22 year old - and a guy who lives 3,000 miles away.

Not exactly what I was going for...but the site wasn't done yet.

A couple days later, I got an email from a guy who is 19 years old. Nineteen!! I could have children that age. I actually had step children who are older. To put it in perspective, a few days before I got an email on Match from a guy closer to my age - who is old enough to be this person's grandfather.

Nineteen is too young even by the acceptable cougar standards.

But I couldn't resist - especially after prompting from a favorite tweep. I responded, "Our age difference is really too much for me. Any chance your dad is single?"

No response. I assumed he was probably irritated by my question, or hadn't fully grasped my age when he sent the first email. Then - he emailed back. Said my profile seemed cool and fun, and I was very pretty, so he wanted to talk to me.

Aw. That's sweet. He's 19!!

I didn't want to talk to him. There's nothing romantic or sexual about a man young enough to be my son. All I can think about are my friends who are moms, and how they would feel if their teenage (Teenage!) son was flirting with a peer.

Plus, a friend mentioned something I hadn't considered - what if he's not really 19? What if he's really 17 - or 16? Now we've blown right past the point of impropriety and directly to illegal.

I went back in to block his profile - which I found had been deleted.

I guess someone else decided jumping out of the cradle wasn't a good idea.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Relationship marathon

Though I've worked for a sales organization for most of my career, I've never been a sales-person. I always thought I wouldn't be able to handle the rejection (sales people hear no a lot more than yes).

But the truth is - I can (and do) handle rejection quite often. I'm getting better at it, too.

It occurs to me that being rejected is a little like training for a race. The first time you run, you think you're going to die. This is it, this is the end. There's no way I'll survive.

But you don't die - so you try again. After a while, you start to realize that not only are you not dying - it's actually getting easier.

You're building up endurance - or in the case of rejection, a tolerance.

The problem with that tolerance is that sometimes, part of it comes from an increasing sense of apathy. In order to manage the rejection, your heart and mind have gotten together and shut down those parts that allow people to get close.

Which is great - rejection doesn't hurt anymore! But that's a double-edged sword - you're numb to the rejection so you can't be hurt, but in order to be numb, you can't find the relationship you want.

When you're training for a race, as things become easier, the right thing to do is push yourself a little harder. Increase your speed, or your distance, or make the course a little harder. Once you hit the level where you don't feel any pain, it's time for a new challenge.

That's the only way to get the desired result. If you're training for a marathon, you can't stop when a 5K is no longer challenging - you'll never run the 26.2.

I suppose the same is true in dating. Once you can handle certain scenarios, you have to open yourself up to something more. Push yourself a little more; find a new challenge. Prove to yourself that you can handle the ultimate rejection, so that your heart and mind are ready for the ultimate triumph.

Finding a relationship isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. You're either in it for the long haul - or you're not really in it at all.

Monday, January 28, 2013


When a was in high school, a popular upper-classman asked me out every day for a whole year. I ignored him. We didn't move in the same circles, and he wasn't the sort of guy I found attractive back then.

But that wasn't why I always declined.

I said no because I assumed he was making fun of me. I expected if I ever said yes, it would be a set up for humiliation, which I preferred to avoid.

Even though that was 20+ years ago, I still struggle with that low self-esteem every day. Getting rejected as often as I do does nothing for my self-image. But it is a part of dating - so it's not something I can really avoid. Instead, I've learned to manage it better, and recover more quickly.

A while back, I was talking to a couple of friends about men who walk away. One suggested maybe some guys are intimidated by my confidence, and leave because deep down they feel I'm "out of their league." While I appreciate her saying so, I just don't buy that excuse.

Even as much as I question my own looks and self-worth, I have managed dates with guys who I felt were way "out of my league." I've even managed to walk away from those guys, realizing they weren't good for me.

If I can walk away from a guy who made me drool in my pasta, then a handsome, successful, professional with an advanced degree certainly isn't walking away from a woman because she writes the occasional fluff piece for a local news website.

Yet, that's exactly what a guy did last week.

At first, he seemed OK with the whole idea. He recognized my name, realized he'd read my posts before, and thought it was cool. Somehow, over the next two hours, he came to the conclusion that he was "intimidated" by my "local celebrity" and would "feel too much like common folk" in front of me. He was sorry, but this would not work out.

First, let me tell you - I'm nothing that even resembles a "celebrity" - local or otherwise. I write because I enjoy writing. I'm not even paid by the local news website - it has an entire platform where reader-bloggers write on a variety of topics. I don't even get too personal over there. I mostly write about current events and issues related to the city in which I live.

So what's the problem? I have no idea. I assume that maybe it was just an excuse. Though he said he was interested, maybe he changed his mind. Or perhaps, as Engineer suggested, he read something I wrote with which he disagreed, but didn't want to say so.

I've lost track of how many rejections that is this month - but that definitely the lamest.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I meant what I said

I was talking to Baking Suit about this guy the other day.

"I just don't get it," I said. "I told him I liked guys to be upfront. I wish men would realize that when we say we want him to be upfront, that's not just about what color flowers he'd like at the wedding. We mean about everything - including if he's not interested."

When I meet someone new, one of the first things I tell him is that I'm an upfront person, and I appreciate (and prefer) the same from the person I'm dating.

Those aren't just words. I don't speak just to hear myself talk. I mean what I say - and I say what I mean.

I realize that dating is a game. But the truth is...the game changes when you're older, and you come back to dating after a divorce - or even after you've been single for a while.

At some point, you find yourself not interested in playing games. Whether it's because you know there are more important ways to spend your energy, or you just feel like you don't have time to waste, eventually you just don't want to play anymore.

I'm at that point.

When I tell someone I prefer he be honest, I mean completely. Don't pretend to like me just because you think it's what I want to hear. Don't play hard to get because you think it will keep me interested. Don't try to string me along in case your something better doesn't work out.

All you're doing is wasting my time - and yours.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Online dating - some basics

You can read here (and countless other places) about how to craft a well-written online dating profile, what photos will get the most attention, who to approach, when to approach, how to find the people most attracted to you, etc.

But you rarely see anything describing the basics - you know, tips and tricks to how the sites work. I decided to collect a few of my own and share with you.

You're welcome.

Most sites track who has viewed your profile. This is great, right? You can see who is checking you out. For those of you who are slow to pick up on the obvious...this also means others know when you're checking them out.

Some sites allow you to search profiles, but remain hidden, so that people don't know you're stalking peeping viewing profiles. This is usually a paid feature on otherwise free sites.

Most sites only save emails for a specific amount of time. So, if there's info in one that you want to be keep (someone's name, phone number, etc) - make a  note, send yourself an email, text your best friend, or something.

Just about every site tracks (and reports) when you were last online. On Match, it's right there for anyone who views your profile. Online Now! or Active Within 24 Hours shows right below your profile basics. If you're in someone's "viewed me" or "email" boxes, your profile comes right up on her home screen. She won't even need to open your profile to see when you were last online.

You can also get search results in order of last online activity. On a site like Plenty of Fish, that's the easiest way to tell how recently someone was online.

(FYI, if you're going to tell someone you can't talk to her anymore because you don't have time, your online activity will give you away. Make a note.)

Most sites will allow you to "hide" your profile. This removes your profile from search results - but if you email another user, he will be able to view your profile when he accesses it through the email connection.

You can also "block" a user, which means that user cannot email you.

(So, if you get all cranky-pants because a woman doesn't want to go on a date, and then decide to email her a week later, you'll have to unblock her or she won't be able to respond - even if she was interested.)

Some sites (like Match) make it very easy to hide a profile from your own search results. Other sites (like Plenty of Fish) don't offer this option, or make it easy. This is unfortunate because no one likes to open up a search window and find a whole page of dates-gone-wrong. Sigh.

Some sites are free, while others require a monthly payment. Even the free sites usually have an upgrade for a small monthly charge that will allow you to tap into a few more features. No matter what site, or membership level, you choose - be sure to read up and explore the features.

It's your dating life. If that's not important enough - surely the entertainment value is.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I will never get it

I recently went on a date that I thought went really well. We talked for over two hours. The conversation was natural and flowed easily. He texted me after and we talked for another hour. He asked me out the next day, though those plans eventually got canceled.

He had a lot going on and texted me a few days later apologizing that we hadn't really talked, and it seemed he'd met me at a bad time, but he was still hoping to get to know me.

I asked two people (both excellent at judging this sort of thing) if that sounded sincere, or like a poorly-crafted blow-off. See, I thought he was trying to go with a lame "bad timing" excuse - but to do that, you can't add on the "I still want to get to know you" part.

Both friends told me he was probably being sincere.

Both were wrong (or not exactly right, anyway).

I didn't hear from him again, even after I texted to see if he'd like to get together. I was going to just let it go - but I wasn't in a "let it go" kind of mood that weekend. So, I asked. Nicely. Told him I wasn't looking to make a big deal, I just preferred not to guess.

A day later, I got a response from him that he didn't want to string me along, that the timing was really bad for him, and he wished me luck.

Now - I know the guy has been online (Side Note: You do realize that just about any dating site will tell you when a person is online, or was last, right?) so he obviously has the time. He just wasn't interested. Which is fine, and I wished him well.

I've said before that I totally get if someone isn't interested in me. I also completely get not wanting to be the bad guy, so of course if you're not interested, you're hoping I feel the same, and we can just fade from each other's lives.

That I get.

But what's with the 2+ hours of conversation? What was with the hug? Why text me after and say how much fun you had, and how much you're looking forward to getting to know me? Why even suggest you might want a second date? Why add on the "I still want to get to know you" part to what would otherwise have been a very successful blow-off?

Baking Suit suggested that maybe, while I was in front of him, he did really like me. Maybe he even did want that second date. But after a few days of limited contact - he did legitimately have some stuff going on - it occurred to him that he hadn't really thought of me too much. If that was the case - maybe he realized he didn't really feel "it" and at that point, didn't know how to get out of it gracefully.

Maybe. But I'll still never get it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Using Astroglide to overcome sexual shyness (a giveaway!)

Relationships are complicated. There are lot of moving parts - different people, circumstances, surroundings, personalities, needs, lifestyles, preferences, etc. Communication is key, and can go a long way in helping the two of you solve any problem life throws your way.

One of the keys to communication is feeling connected and comfortable in the relationship. While sex isn't the most important part of a relationship - it's certainly in the top ten five three.

You might be surprised to know how little emphasis some people (usually women, in my experience) put on a healthy, satisfying sex life. Especially couples in a long-term relationship, when life, and jobs, and money, and kids have become the primary focus.

The thing is...improving your sex life will improve the relationship. You'll feel more comfortable and connected. Communication and sex are intertwined - and let's face it, without communication, you don't have a very good chance at overcoming all the rest.

The good news is, if your sex life is failing, or is just not as good as you'd like, there are ways to improve. Dr. Yvonne Fulbright is Astroglide's Sexual Wellness Ambassador. Dr. Fulbright is partnering with Astroglide to give women the opportunity to submit questions about topics including better sex, sexual shyness, sexual health, sexual inhibitions, and how to have a more satisfying sex life.

One of the tips that a lot of women need to focus on - that I think many don't even realize - is body image. Dr. Fulbright says:
Boost your body image. For some, the biggest challenge to getting in a sexy state of mind and letting that be known is how a woman feels about her body. This also goes for those who seemingly have the "best" bodies. You can start feeling better about your form with regular exercise (as this has mental health perks as well), eating healthy meals, avoiding toxins, and shutting down negative self-talk. Do things that make you feel good about the skin you're in, like yoga, getting a massage, or wearing clothes that feel like they were made for you.
Personally, I have a terrible body-image. I exercise and try to eat right - but I wasn't blessed with a good metabolism at all, I have a thyroid problem, and I've been overweight my whole life. Plus - between you, me, and the internet - no matter how many guys tell me I'm sexy and pretty - I don't see it. Not even the pretty part.

You can't rely on a guy to boost your self image. That has to come from within. I can eat the right foods, drag myself to the gym, drink lots of water - and I might lose weight. But the trick is finding ways to boost my self-esteem even if I don't lose a pound.

After all - curvy girls have as much right to love themselves as skinny girls.

So, I try to be good to myself. Make sure I like how I'm dressed, my makeup, my hair. I try not to talk down about myself, and eliminate people in my life who talk down about me.

Because if I don't love my body or myself - how will I ever convince anyone that he should?

More of Dr. Fulbright's tips include:

  • Figure out what's holding you back
  • Determine if you need more help (professional counseling)
  • Read manuals
  • Get to know yourself (I think we know what she means) 
For more tips, or to submit a question, click here. While you're clicking, Astroglide and Single Edition have partnered to bring a special giveaway to readers. Click here for more information on a free Astroglide product.  

**This is a sponsored post. I received compensation for sharing the tips, links, and giveaway.**

Monday, January 21, 2013

Shaken, not stirred

I went to my second Stir Event last week. First let me say - I love this idea. The whole concept of taking what is quite possibly the largest, datable community and inviting them to one, giant, single-friendly, safe, fun place to meet other datable people is genius. Genius! Kudos to whoever thought this up.

(By the way, Match, if you're hiring, I'd love to work for you.)

Once you register for a Stir event, Match is great about nagging reminding you that you're "on the list." I got an email confirming my RSVP, an email telling me the event was in two days, and then a third reminder the day of - with a link to the mobile Stir site, where I could (supposedly) see profiles of people who were already at the event. Also an excellent idea.

Unfortunately, my mobile carrier and/or the site were conspiring against me. I was unable to check the profiles before walking into the bar.

Which was really unfortunate. Knowing that the guy I blew off the week before was already inside would have been excellent information to have before I was standing in front of him.

Let me back up...

We actually met a couple of months ago. I winked, then he winked. I emailed, then he emailed. Then he fell into the black hole...and reemerged to taunt me about the Yankees (he's a Red Sox fan - proving not every guy on is ideal).

We spoke on the phone and were supposed to meet for lunch - and then he "lost my number." He emailed me again around Christmas, along with every other guy I know who is lonely romantic.

The weekend before the Stir event, he asked me to meet him for a drink. I already had plans to meet Engineer and some of his friends for a comedy show (to celebrate - Happy Birthday, Engineer!) but told him I would text him when the show was over.

I never did. Why? I'm not sure. I was tired, and not feeling all that well. It was later than I originally thought. I was all the way at one end of one city, and he was all the way at the opposite end of another.

All excuses. Bottom line - I didn't care to meet him, so I went home and ate cookies.

Back to the Stir event....

I hadn't even made it to the bar when I heard my name. It took me a few seconds to connect the dots, but I finally realized who was standing in front of me.

He smiled. I smiled. He bought me a soda and we sat down and chatted for a while. It actually felt a little like a first date. It was nice - but a little awkward, since we were both there having accepted an invitation to a singles event, presumably to meet other people.

Then his friend showed up. I got the impression he was Match-Guy's wing-man - and why would he need a wing-man if he was into me? We all chatted for a bit. Then Match-Guy spilled his beer on our table, and since the smell makes me nauseous, and since Criminal Minds was starting in a hour, I said my goodbyes.

I never met anyone else, because I was sitting with him the whole night. Not that it was a bad night - just not what I had planned.

All in all, not a bad night. Certainly could have been worse - I could have run into this guy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How a player becomes a player

Not too long ago, I met this guy. He came across as a player. I know he was dating other women when we first started seeing each other - I do not know how long that lasted. I honestly don't really know his deal, other than he won't commit to dating me. We still talk, but it's really way too casual for my liking. There are other problems that keep it from getting more serious - but that's another story.

I guess I've always assumed that guys who are very good looking will date more than one woman because they can. I guess I just pegged certain guys as players, and if they are, that must mean they are not good guys.

I guess I figured that jerks are just jerks, the same way nice guys are just nice.

After talking with this guy, though, I'm starting to wonder if maybe that's not the case. 

He has a lot of issues. I won't go in to details here, but it's stuff that might make him...undatable to some. He wasn't immediately upfront about his problems. His explanation was that women have walked away from him before, and he was afraid I would walk away, too. 

I realize that could easily be a line - but it got me thinking. 

It's easy for a woman to become jaded if she hears one-too-many lies. Lies can turn an open, soft, friendly, trusting, romantic person into a cynical pessimist who dates for sport. It happens. After all, the main reason women are crazy is because men are stupid.

But if cynical, jaded, manipulative women are quick to say that lying, cheating men made them - are "players" made the same way?

If enough women play games with a guy's feelings, or walk away because he's not perfect, will that turn a genuine, normal, honest guy into someone who can't even remember the truth, let alone share it with someone else? 

If that's the case - are the players turning the women into cynics, or are the cynical women turning men into players? 

Now I remember why I hated philosophy in college.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bad guys

Women are attracted to bad boys. It's been the plight of nice guys since...well, forever.

You meet a guy. He's probably very good-looking. He talks you up about how beautiful you are, how lucky he is to have met you - yet he's non-committal. 

On the surface, he seems to have his act together. When you dig deeper, you find that in a lot of ways, he's really a mess of issues. He's obviously using you for money or favors - or at the very least, taking advantage of your kindness. 

He always has an excuse, a "reason" for being late or not showing up or canceling. He'll always pay you back, or "get it next time." 

He's always just got to get through this one rough patch and everything will be OK.

No, it won't. 

He's playing you. If he's good, he's subtle. He hints around how he knows you've probably been rejected by others, but he appreciates you. He lets you think that paying for everything is your idea - because you suggested dinner, or you wanted to see that movie, or he has important bills coming up. 

He offers to pay or to be there for you, when he knows he won't need to follow through. So he can say, "Well, I did offer...." He apologizes when he knows he's upset you - and he knows the signs to watch for, so he can do it before you get really angry. This makes him seem sensitive and as if he really pays attention because he cares.

A guy that good has been at this a while; he could try this on anyone, and even the most put-together woman would probably fall for it - at first. (Beginner players stick to younger women, or women who already have low self-esteem - easier targets.)

The thing is, any woman at the right moment is vulnerable to this guy. Freshly rejected, going through a rough time at work or financially - anything that challenges how you feel about yourself can make you ripe for a bad boy's picking. 

The good news is, if you are confident, and good to yourself, and honest, and have good friends - you'll figure it out. By the time you do, it might still be tough to pull yourself away. He knows the signs. When he feels you slipping away, he'll put on the charm. He'll convince you that maybe you're just not giving him enough of a chance. He'll have you questioning your own choices and how they've affected the relationship. 

He'll tell you that if you just hang in there, the two of you will be great together. You're meant for each other! Really, he'll say whatever he thinks you would most want to hear.

Plus - you like the guy. He's cute, he's smart, he's funny, he's sweet. 

The thing is - those things aren't enough to make a good friend/boyfriend/husband. Sure, they're part of what attracts you to a person, and it's nice to find someone who has those qualities. But there are more important things to look for, especially in someone with whom you hope to eventually share a life. 

Honestly, integrity, thoughtfulness, responsibility.... All much more important.

But back to the bad boy. How to get rid of him? It's hard to say for sure. Walking away is easier said than done. You know you should - but you really need to find a way to make - and stick with - the decision. Maybe you're afraid to miss out on something that could be good. Maybe you're worried you'll hurt him if he really does like you.

You need to find a way to put yourself first - which is tough, because he's convinced you that's not what's best. Think about how he really makes you feel. Sure, when you're with him it's probably great. But what about the rest of the time? Are you upset? Worried? Nervous? Do you enjoy your time with friends, family, when he's not around? Do you feel like yourself? Do you like yourself?

Maybe ask yourself this: If your friend came to you and described your situation as her own - what would be your advice? 

If he makes you unhappy, and brings out the worst of your personality, his good qualities don't really matter. He's clearly not the best person for you. Don't you deserve the best?

Just for a moment, forget what you think you want, and remember what you know you deserve

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Past experience

"I think we react to our past experiences until they're replaced with new experiences."
A friend said that to me when we were talking about this guy. I was feeling a little bad for leaping to the conclusion that he was lying - but, as I pointed out, that's sort of what I'm used to from men at this point.

I met someone new this weekend. A nice first date. The next day I found myself wondering and doubting and getting angry. The details of why aren't important - what is important is that I realized this is not the person I want to be.

Sure, past experience dictates that this guy will probably fade away like the others. It dictates he's probably lying, not really that into me, and probably not the one.

But he isn't past experience. He's present - potentially future - experience. It doesn't do me any good to react to him as though he's those other guys. All that will accomplish is me turning him into those guys in my own mind.

Somehow, I have to find a way to learn lessons from past experiences without allowing them to shade the present.

It's a tall order. If experience teaches you that getting hopeful means you'll end up heartbroken, the natural reaction is not to hope. If you learn that trusting people means you'll fall for more lies, you eventually start to shut down and not trust.

Certainly, you don't want to ignore the lessons. Every person who comes in to our life shows up for a reason. A lot of times, that reason is so that we can learn - what to look for, what makes sense, what makes us happy. How we can handle things in the future, and balance our hearts with our heads.

Maybe the biggest lesson of all is that, in the end, you have to judge each relationship on its own merits. That your past experience have shaped you - not this new person. Use them to decide what you want, what works for you - and what doesn't.

Use your experience to help decide what you want - not to judge the next person. If you find a way to be true to yourself, the truth about your next relationship will show up on its own.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shop for dates

I spent the better part of a week explaining how I felt about this situation to various friends. For the most part, everyone came back with similar responses: I was asking too much, being too picky, and trying to push things too far, too fast.

I began racking my brain to come up with a way to explain how I feel. I wanted to compare my feelings to something else that people might understand. Comparisons are tough for me, but just flat-out stating my feelings wasn't working. Finally, I came up with a way to (hopefully) describe how I feel, using an activity at which I'm much more successful than dating:


Which, if you think about it, makes sense. Dating and shopping are very similar. Both involve searching for the perfect [insert desired result here]. Both can be done spontaneously, or with a fair amount of planning. Both can yield a tremendous amount of happiness and pleasure, or stress and frustration - and usually to extremes either way. Both require a fair amount of psyching up, but are ultimately necessary.

All of that, plus shopping and dating are my two main hobbies.

First of all - when I shop, it's either because I have to (think groceries) or because I want to (think shoes).

When I have to go shopping, I try to get in and get out as quickly as possible. I don't really put in a lot of effort, and either end up buying the same things over and over because I don't want to take the time to think of something new, or I try something new without thinking it through, and end up dissatisfied.

When I want to go shopping, I'm usually enthusiastic and full of energy. I almost always have fun. Even if I don't find exactly what I'm searching for, I enjoy the process. I try not to get too specific an idea in my head about what I want, so as not to steer myself away from something good. I go with a general idea about what would work best, what it is I really need, and what is going to make me happy.

Sometimes, I see something on the shelf or the rack and know, immediately, that I need to take the item home. It is exactly what I want, and there is no doubt in my mind. Other times, I find something I might like - and I'll pick it up and walk around the store, mulling over the purchase while I look for something I might like better.

I've found things I love both ways. I've also ended up with items in my closet that go unworn for months (even a year) because I bought without careful consideration. I don't necessarily regret the purchase - but I tell myself I will be more careful next time.

For years, I approached dating with the idea that it was something I had to do. Finding a boyfriend was like shopping for groceries: Something I needed, that wouldn't just show up on my doorstep, so I had to go out and look. But I wasn't enjoying the process, so I wanted to go in and get out as quickly as possible. This resulted in repeating the same behaviors, and eventually, the same mistakes.

I finally learned that the have-to attitude doesn't work when dating. It's kind of like grocery shopping when you're hungry - you buy a whole bunch of stuff you don't really need, that you'll only regret later. It was time for a break.

When I came back, I had a much more positive, want-to attitude toward dating. I was a little more choosy - but not to the point of overlooking anyone who seemed to have potential. This meant that I ended up picking up a bunch of options that weren't really right for me, while I wandered around, looking for something better.

This was an improvement, but still not exactly what I wanted.

The last few months, and guys, have been a struggle for me. I have cried more than I should, doubted myself way too much, and driven myself into a depression that I am now fighting to escape. However, it has been worth the trouble, because I've learned something.

I'm tired of having to shop. I'm also tired of picking up a bunch of maybes while I search for the right choice. I want to find the one about which I have no doubt. I want the one that, from the moment I lay eyes on him, I know he's the one.

Not only that...I want to find someone who feels the same about me. No doubts. No worries. No what ifs. Just - she's the one.

I know I'll occasionally slip back into wandering mode. Let's face it - dating is also like shopping in that I sometimes do it just because I'm bored. But I plan to stop holding on to options. I am switching to window shopping mode - I'm not even going to pick up anything I don't absolutely love at first-sight.

I realize that means I might put back something that would do just fine - but that's OK with me. I'm not looking for just fine - I'm looking for the one.

I know what you're thinking. "Doesn't she realize she's asking too much? Or being too picky? Setting expectations too high?" No one can plan that moment when you find exactly what you want. It just happens. If you're not open to anything, you might miss out.

The answer is - yes, I know. I know I'm being picky, and probably a little unfair and unreasonable. I know that setting this high an expectation means I may never find anyone who meets it.

I understand it all.

For the first time - ever - it's OK with me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Preemptive blow off game

So I met this guy. We started talking on Friday. He met on Saturday...and before that date was even over, he invited me out for Sunday. We had dinner that Tuesday, followed by two more dates later in the week.

I heard from him every single day up until the following Monday. Nothing - until 9:30 pm, when I got a text that said,
"Just saying hi. Going to bed early. How was your day?"
Between you and me (and the internet) I know he was online ( earlier that evening. It wouldn't have bothered me except for this...

He has very limited time, which I tried to be respectful of and not bother him during the week. I wasn't looking for us to be exclusive or anything. I guess I just hoped that after five dates, he would put me a little higher on the priority list when he did have free time.

I replied to his text, and got no response from him. I'll be honest - my warning signals were sounding off. It felt like a preemptive blow off - like he was about to be busy for a while, didn't want to ignore texts from me, but also didn't want to have to check his phone.

Like he was about to go on a date (which he normally does later at night due to his schedule).

I didn't hear from him that Tuesday. I assumed his date had gone well, and that I would not hear from him again. I did not contact him because there really seemed to be no point.

On Wednesday, he sent a text asking how I was doing. "Fine, thanks," I told him. He asked if I was mad.

I responded honestly, telling him I felt as though he was blowing me off earlier in the week, and that since I hadn't really talked to him, I thought he'd probably lost interest or met someone else. I told him I was not mad (which was true). I never mentioned seeing him online because I knew there was no point.

He told me he was not blowing me off, and had not met anyone else. I have not heard from him since.

It's honestly cool, and I won't bother him, or even try to figure it out. I had doubts of my own, and I suspect he did, too.

Several friends asked how I could be so sure that he was blowing me off or going on other dates. One reason:

Because I've played that game.

I've been on many dates where, before settling down for some one-on-one time, I had to send one (or more) text messages to other guys, "excusing" myself for the rest of the evening. "Dinner with the girls, no-phones rule in effect" is my go-to reason. "Have a good night!" Depending on the relationship, maybe I tack on a smilely face or a couple of xes and os.

Listen - I know dating is a big game. I don't like it - but I know. No matter how much we say we're tired of the games, call ourselves straight-shooters, profess to be done playing, etc. - at one time or another, we're all guilty of something.

The trick is to never play games with someone who plays better.

Friday, January 11, 2013

PSA - Black-hole guys

Black Hole Guys


  • Suggests a bunch of dates
  • Says he really likes you
  • Makes a big deal about how excited he is to see you
  • Says how happy he is to have met you
  • Sudden retreat after these overtures - including but not limited to:

    • Texts/Calls are shorter and fewer/further between
    • You have to start suggesting dates, eventually you're doing all the work.
    • He will eventually go ghost and never be heard from again. 

    He comes on so strong because he's been taught it's necessary to ensure the woman stays interested - and/or he views you as a new "toy" and wants to play with nothing else temporarily. He's not secure enough to realize you might actually like him for himself, so he's not showing you the real him.

    The most common explanation for the sudden retreat is that he does not want to hurt your feelings by telling you he's not interested. He is, apparently, completely unaware that your feelings will be even more hurt when you eventually realize that you've been rejected in the worst possible way.

    Common side effects:

    That sudden 180 degree turn can lead to inappropriate text messages, late night phone calls, and stalking online profiles. In extreme cases, in-person stalking at places of business and/or home. He (and others) may describe this as "crazy." It is actually dating whiplash brought on by his sudden break and turn. At this time the only known cure is chocolate ice cream and/or Oreos with milk. If symptoms persist, go to a movie with friends and make sure they hold your cellphone.

    Possible cures:

    The only real cure would be for the men to actually say what they mean and mean what they say. They would need to abandon the false overtures and just say what is on their minds.

    At this time, there is nothing to suggest this will ever happen.

    The best protection is to realize that if a guy leads you on, the issue is his, not yours. He's the coward who couldn't face the fact that he led you on, and basically lied, all in an effort to not let something good slip through his fingers while his head was jammed up his ass.

    Future treatment:

    The unfortunate reality is that the current demographic of single guys ages 38-49 who are Black Hole Guys are also fathers of teenage sons. So not only are single women everywhere being treated this way now - but a new generation of cowards is being bred as we speak.

    The hope is that those young women are already trolling the internet for dating advice and stumble upon this (or similar) blog. Some insight into this epidemic may provide the proper self-esteem and dating savvy to protect themselves. Knowledge is power.

    Of course, they should also stock up on ice cream, Oreos, sappy movies and good friends.

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    How would you react?

    Remember me telling you about this guy I met on Match who "rescheduled" a date only to never be heard from again?

    I should have let him remain in the "never heard from again" category.

    Instead, I sent him a text just after Christmas to say I hoped he had a great holiday. He replied by saying thank you, that he "didn't expect that" from me, and he really appreciated the good wishes. I said that if he ever changed his mind and wanted to go out again, I'd love to hear from him.

    This is what happened....

    Him: If you're second guess me then not likely but if not we shall see
    Me: I'm confused by that text, but OK. Second guess you?
    Him: Yes that's exactly what you did the day we were supposed to go to [dinner]
    Me: Now I am confused. You asked to reschedule, and I said OK. Then when I texted to confirm if we were still on, I never heard from you. Never second guessed anything, until you didn't respond, or get back in touch with me. At that point, I figured you had changed your mind.
    Him: I was ok with the rescheduling due to the fact that I was exhausted from work. Which I explained to you but you were ok with that then you sent me another text insinuating I was changing plans because I changed my mind!  What was the purpose of that? It wasn't necessary or fair to ASSUME anything. I didn't like that at all.
    Me: Well, I apologize. When I didn't hear back from you about rescheduling, I did assume you had changed your mind. I figured if you wanted to reschedule, you would have confirmed. Perhaps that was unfair of me. Insulting you wasn't my intention. I have met many people who reschedule and then never respond as a way of canceling a date. I guess in your case, I leapt to a conclusion too quickly. If you're interested in trying again, please let me know.
    Him: You don't know me and shouldn't assume. Until other wise proven you should've taken what I asked you at face value. I hadn't shown you other wise. I am a single full-time dad, who fully supports himself and his kids so working is ultra important and considering xmas was coming. I couldn't and wont come up short for them. I am very hard on my teenagers about their grades,behavior and activities so when they earn the right to ask for gifts via birthdays or  Xmas, do you think they ask for barbies or Legos? Not likely lol. So I make sure they get what they ask for considering their mothers aren't involved
    Me: I completely understand all that. Like I said, it wasn't until I didn't hear back from you about confirming that I thought maybe you wanted to cancel. Again, I apologize for the mis-communication. Not sure what else I can say, other than I'm sorry.
    Him: Thank you for the apology, its very appreciated. If you don't mind I would think about this okay and I will definitely let you know okay?
    I'm sharing the whole exchange because it actually shocked me into a moment of stunned silence. He seemed fixated on the idea that I was mad he rescheduled. He didn't seem to understand that wasn't the case at all. Rescheduling didn't bother me - the fact that he ignored me when I tried to confirm the new date, time, and place was what bothered me.

    I tried explaining that via text, but it wasn't working. Honestly, I thought I'd just apologize for my part in what was obviously a terrible miscommunication, and then if it ever came up in person, attempt to explain it further.

    But he seemed determined to put it back on me? I (briefly) wondered if I may have done something wrong. I mean - when he didn't respond to either text from me confirming the new date, time, and place, I did say to him that I assumed he'd changed his mind about dinner, and I wished him a nice holiday.

    Was that wrong? It seemed polite to me. What seemed rude was his rescheduling a Saturday night date with only a couple hours notice, and then completely ignoring my response. Maybe I shouldn't have sent the final text - but it wasn't a rude message. It really was as simple as, since I haven't heard from you, I'm assuming we're not on for tonight. Take care.

    Maybe I shouldn't have, and it's a mistake I won't make again. But the more I think about this exchange, the more it feels like his attempt to blow me off and then blame his rude behavior on me - which I don't particularly like. If you're going to be rude to me, fine - but at least own it.

    By the way, his promise to "definitely" let me know? Never happened. What did happen was I texted him the first week into January and wished him a Happy New Year. He replied with a whole host of lol-infused innuendo that was rude an offensive and totally unlike any conversation we'd ever had.

    I changed his name in my contact list from "[Name] Adorable Guy from Match" to [Name] Asshole from Match" and have not contacted him since.

    I may just stop being polite.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    Couple profile photos

    It's no secret I'm not a fan of couple photo shoots, or profiles. But I'm not sure I've ever shared how I feel about using a couple-picture as your own profile photo.

    For the record - I hate it.

    Maybe I've been single too long, or maybe I'm too cynical, or maybe I'm just a judgmental bitch (I'm not ruling out any of those possibilities, among others.) I just happen to feel that your profile should represent you - not the couple of which you're one half.

    The profile picture isn't just for people to look at when they stalk visit your timeline.It follows you around facebook (and the internet, really) representing you any time you're active. Especially with comments. I have a friend who used the same couple photo for her profile picture as her boyfriend. So when they were each commenting in a thread, it was tough to tell whose comment was whose.

    (For the record, I actually love couple photos as the cover photo on Facebook. If you're in a couple, that's usually a big part of who you are  - but it's still just a part of what makes you, you.)

    I didn't even like posting photos of me with Trooper, and he would ask me to all the time. He would post photos of us, of me, tag me in posts...which did nothing but put my personal life on display, and create a whole new segment of people to whom I had to explain, "No, we're not together any more..." post breakup. My favorite conversation ever.

    I'm not sure I'll ever be comfortable sharing that type of personal information again. It's just...mortifying to have to explain why someone is suddenly not posting those pictures. If you never start - you don't ever have to stop.

    Having said all that... I suppose it's a tiny bit possible that I'm a little envious of people who have connected with someone so much, that when they think of themselves - they automatically think of that other person. I suppose maybe there's a tiny part of me that wishes I could connect with someone that way - and an even tinier part that thinks that may never happen.

    So if I poke fun at you for a couple picture, take comfort. Know that for all that talk, I'm really just jealous that I am not close enough to anyone to have to argue about whether or not I'm going to post that photo.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Common ground

    I've been kicking a question around in my mind...thought I'd kick it over to you:
    How important is it to a successful relationship that two people share common political, social, and/or religious views?
    I know in reality it's a personal issue that only those two people can answer. Only you know your own deal-breakers, and what you can and can't live with. At the end of the day, I suppose it really depends on how important a particular view is to one or both people, and how they choose to handle their personal differences.

    Now that the generic mumbo-jumbo is out of the way...

    I have some pretty strong beliefs when it comes to a couple of social/political issues - particularly same-sex marriage. I live in a state where SSM is legal (Yay NY!) and am very open about my feelings as an LGBT Straight Ally. I consider supporting the rights of others to be important for several reasons:
    • While I'm not directly impacted by LGBT rights, I have friends and family who are.
    • I firmly believe that rights need to be preserved and protected by everyone - or all rights are in jeopardy.
    • No one knows better than me how difficult it is to find acceptance and love. I believe we all have a moral imperative to not only bring love and acceptance into the world, but to protect it whenever we can. 
    All of that being said...I do see a line between religious and legal tolerance when it comes to SSM. Religious organizations being private, I believe they should be left alone to support (or not support) whatever they want.

    For example - the Catholic Church, in which I was raised, did not recognize my marriage to X. Why? He is not Catholic, and was also previously divorced at the time of our marriage. That particular church didn't accept my marriage - and that was perfectly fine with me. The law still allowed us to be married, and enjoy the rights (and meet the obligations) that entails.

    I believe that same structure should be available to any two able-minded, consenting adults who want to enter into a marriage. (Yes I said two; this post isn't about polyamorous lifestyles, so I'm letting it be.)

    Since I am able to make the distinction in my mind between religious and legal rights - I am also able to understand why someone with particularly strong religious roots might not agree with SSM. My religious roots were not strong, and I've questioned everything pretty much since birth. But if you've believed all your life that God says no to something, and that you should not question Him - I can understand why it would be hard to adjust adjust your view. 

    I get it.

    But could I live with it?

    How important is it to a relationship? Just how much do two people have to agree upon in order for a relationship to work? Is it OK to "agree to disagree" on something, particularly when it has no direct impact on the relationship in question?

    Or is agreeing to disagree just a cop out? Does that weaken my position? Make me a hypocrite? Does it mean I'm settling for someone even though something important to me might be missing?

    Short-term, it's really not an issue at all. The beginning of any relationship should be taken one day at a time. I can certainly avoid discussing an issue a couple times a week. But long-term is different. The idea that I'd be setting aside an important personal belief (or asking someone else to do so) on a permanent basis?

    I'm not sure that's something I could handle.

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    I never blog about dates

    In my online dating profiles, I disclose upfront that I am a blogger. I tell people about my personal blog, and about the blogs to which I contribute for news organizations. I do this because once someone has my full name, links to those blogs are only a quick google search away. Also - I'm proud of what I do, and don't wish to hide.

    I don't tell people about this blog. In fact, the only guy I've ever told about this blog was Trooper - and that was only after we'd been together for a while, and I knew I needed to come clean before things got any more serious. I feel like there's a fine line between "I haven't said anything yet because it didn't matter" and "I'm flat-out keeping secrets."

    I went on a first date with a guy not too long ago who knew I blogged, because he read it in my profile. He asked what I blogged about - and I gave him my standard answer.

    He thought for a beat, looked at me and asked, "I'm not going to end up in a blog, am I?"

    I looked right at him and with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, replied, "In my personal blog?! Of course not. I'd never do that."

    That's not a lie. I would never blog about him - on those blogs.

    I'm going straight to hell, aren't I?

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Law of attraction

    On New Year's Day, X and I met up at a wake. [Great way to start the new year, right? Hopefully my family won't be making this a tradition.]

    Neither of us were particularly close to the deceased. We know his family...kinda. So, we sat together, and since it was a wake, naturally we discussed sushi, his girlfriend, and upcoming vacations. Eventually, we got around to discussing my dating life, because why not?

    "Billy asked me to stop 'pushing'," I said. "So I have. Now he won't go away."

    "You know what that is, right? The law of attraction. People always want what they can't have."

    I suppose that's true. I know that "playing hard to get" works for that reason - especially if you're dealing with the sort of guy who likes to do the chasing.

    The thing is....I'm not playing hard to get. I stopped pushing because Billy hurt my feelings, and I decided I don't want to be around someone who hurts my feelings.

    It's not just him, either. The holidays, apparently, make people just fall out of the black hole. Between Christmas and New Years, I was contacted by at least five different men, all of whom had - in one way or another - blown me off in recent months. Now, suddenly, it seems I'm all sorts of attractive.


    It's the holidays, I guess. These guys didn't reject me before because I was a bad option - I just wasn't what they wanted at the time. Christmas and New Years bring out the desperation romance in people. I'm sure they all went looking in their little black book contact list, saw me, and thought, "Hey, she wasn't too bad!"

    Awwww...just what every girl dreams of - being "not too bad." I feel all warm and fuzzy.

    Is that another "law of attraction?" I know the holidays obviously trigger something that makes people want to reach out and connect. People, especially single adults with little family connection, feel lonely during that time of year. The urge to fill that void, and avoid the loneliness, makes all the sense in the world.

    The law of attraction also states that "like attracts like." The example given is opening an envelope; if you expect to see a bill - you'll see a bill. It's the power of positive thinking - you have to attract what you want.

    If that's the case, then when we chase what we can't have, aren't we sending the universe a message that we're OK to settle? That we're willing to be with someone who doesn't really want us, just to be with someone? Wouldn't the law of attraction work that way, too?

    I suppose in a way, the law of attraction is just another dating game. Sometimes - games make sense. If you just want a date, or a fling, or attention, playing games is the quickest way. But if I'm putting games out there...wouldn't it follow that I'll get games back in return?

    If I'm looking for something honest and true and good - I'm not sure that will work. I don't want attention because I'm "not that bad." I don't want a fling to get me through the holidays, and I don't want just a date to keep me company until he's not lonely anymore.

    So I think by saying "OK" to any of that - I'm undermining my own goals.

    These are all great guys. I'd have been happy if something had worked with any of them. But for whatever reason, they walked away before.

    I want someone who will find me - and not want to let me go. Someone who realizes how lucky he is that I am in his life. Someone who adds to my happy.

    My new law of attraction? If you can't give me that, you don't get to stay.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    My happy ending

    Christmas Eve was a very, very difficult day for me. New Year's Eve was incredibly good. It's amazing how much difference a week (and a good friend) can make.

    Let me back up...

    Earlier this month, I met a guy. We'll call him Billy. We met on Plenty of Fish on a Monday, and had dates 1 & 2 that week. Then...things fizzled. He didn't really have time for me, kept canceling plans, blowing me off, etc.

    I pressed (I know, shocking, right?) and he admitted that he has some drama in his life that limits his time and money for going out. Then he finally fessed up to some other things from his past, that he felt I should know before things "went any further" between us.

    I wasn't bothered by the past, as he assumed I would be. I was a little bothered by the fact that he wasn't more upfront, but it wasn't a deal-breaker for me. I told him so - and I told him that what is a deal-breaker for me is being treated well, and both of us wanting the same thing.

    We went back and forth, and agreed to continue seeing each other - but it really didn't feel right to me. Baking Suit has wisely told me in the past that if something makes my "tummy feel funny," I should probably listen. She's so wise.

    Then, everything changed....

    On Christmas Eve, X came by my house to exchange Chrismas presents. We got to talking, and I shared a little bit about Billy with X. His feeling was that all the blow offs and excuses meant that Billy isn't interested but doesn't know how to say so. It's certainly possible that he does like me, can't give me what I want, but wants to keep me on the hook just a little bit.

    Of course, X stressed that these things are Billy's issue, not mine, and I shouldn't take it personally or to heart.

    Of course, I'd already taken it personally and to heart, and was crying my eyes out. [I felt bad too - my present for X wasn't worth him listening to me carry on, but listen he did. What a good guy.]

    He may not have realized it, but X made a huge difference that night. X reminded me that I have a lot to offer, and that if a guy (including himself) was willing to let me walk away, then he doesn't deserve me. He also let me cry. Then talk. Then cry some more.

    I wasn't really upset about Billy. I was upset because I felt I'd done so much, made so many positive changes, really knew what I want - and here I was, being played by a guy when I felt I should have known better.

    I was reminded of a quote from He's Just Not That Into You - at the end, GiGi tells us,
    Girls are taught a lot of stuff growing up. If a guy punches you he likes you. Never try to trim your own bangs and someday you will meet a wonderful guy and get your very own happy ending. Every movie we see, every story we're told implores us to wait for it; the third act twist, the unexpected declaration of love, the exception to the rule. But sometimes we're so focused on finding our happy ending we don't learn how to read the signs. How to tell from the ones who want us and the ones who don't, the ones who will stay and the ones who will leave. And maybe a happy ending doesn't include a guy. Maybe it's you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just... moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this: Knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope.
    X left late on Christmas Eve, once he was satisfied I was as good as I was going to get. When I woke up, it was Christmas Day. Two of my favorite little people in the whole world were in my living room tearing through gifts.

    My house was full of hope and faith and belief in good things. It was full of smiles and laughter and thoughtful words from a good friend.

    I decided then and there that my happy ending would come from moving on - and that it was starting that very moment.