Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

I've shared my lessons for 2013... my resolution for 2014 is to learn from every one of them.

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ten dating lessons I learned in 2013

In a lot of ways, 2013 sucked, at least when it came to dating. When I looked back over the guys that shaped the last 12 months, I thought, "Good grief." Then I decided to focus on things besides dating that shaped 2013. Much better.
But of course, this is a dating blog. You're not here to read about the raise I got at work, or the new direct sales adventure I started.
So rather than recap the guys, I decided to recap the lessons. Much less depressing.

♡ I want ridiculous love. By that, I mean I don't just want ordinary, "this will do" kind of love. I want a "knock my socks off" kind of love.

♡ I am a little afraid of commitment. Not because I don't want a relationship - because I don't want the wrong relationship. I believe that fear helps me move more slowly, and will ultimately help me recognize the right guy when he comes along.

♡ Some people will disappear from your life as quickly as they appeared. Sometimes they won't say goodbye. It doesn't make them a jerk. In fact, these people deserve forgiveness, not anger.

♡ I'm simply not meant to understand everything.

♡ It takes a lot of time and communication to really "get" a person. Knowing he wants a relationship or hates drama is only half the story. You still need to understand what those things mean to him. If you both define "relationship" differently, it won't matter how much you like one another.

♡ It's OK for me to define what I want, and not accept being treated poorly. It's not too much to expect common courtesy. I deserve to be treated well, and there's no reason to make room in my life for those who don't agree.

♡ Though I sometimes get a little lonely and a little sad, I know I'm better off on my own than I would ever be settling.

♡ I can date casually, but only for so long. I want long-term potential. To say otherwise is simply a waste of everyone's time.

♡ Boundaries are very important, especially when it comes to friendships with exes.

♡ I'm a pretty strong person. Someday, someone is going to be lucky he found me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A guide to holi-dating

A friend of mine came to me last week with this scenario: I just started dating a new guy, and he's asked me to be his date at a get together on Christmas Day. We'd agreed no gifts - but now that we'll be together, should I do something?

My advice was something inexpensive, and possibly homemade (candy, cookies, what-not). That way it can be more of a "thanks for the date" type gift, instead of a Christmas gift. The last thing you want is to make a person feel bad for not reciprocating on the gift.

She thanked me for my "dating guru" advice. While one might argue that of the two of us, the one who is date-less this holiday might not be the guru, it did occur to me that others might appreciate my input on the topic of holiday dating. So, as my gift to you, here are my holi-dating guidelines.


I feel there's a window of opportunity when deciding to date someone seriously. That window closes after October 25. If you start dating someone seriously after that, you run the risk of a very awkward holiday. Between wondering if you should buy him a gift - and if so, how much should you spend - and trying to figure out what it means if he doesn't invite you to meet his family, you could ruin your whole holiday. Now I realize that at some point, every relationship goes through this awkward phase. I just don't want it happening when I'm supposed to be enjoying my gifts family.

Does that mean you can't date at all the last two months of the year? Of course not. I say just keep it very casual, so that you don't get to the gift-giving, family-meeting stage until January (or later).

What if you do get caught in the gift-giving conundrum? See my advice above. Stick with something inexpensive, thoughtful, and not too elaborate. You don't want to create another awkward situation if he does not have a gift for you. Like I said - cookies or candy work if you're the "make stuff in your kitchen" sort. If you're like me, and only know where to keep the soda in your kitchen, then maybe a couple of movie tickets, or even better, offer to take him for a night out. That's nice, thoughtful, and gives the two of you time together, which is what a new relationship is all about.
I am so sick of this song.

What if you do get caught in the family-
meeting pickle? I'm afraid it's been a while since I've personally had this come up. In this type of situation, I always think it's best to fall back on good old-fashioned common courtesies. Wear a nice outfit, but be sure not to out-dress his family. Bring a hostess gift (stay away from food, as you run the risk of insulting the cook) - wine, flowers, etc. Offer to help clean up after the meal.

What about New Year's Eve? There's a lot of pressure on singles to find a date for this night. It's almost worse than Valentine's Day. I personally think it's more important to start your new year off on the right foot - which means spending your evening on a bad date is way worse than spending it with no date. But that's me. The good news here is that New Year's Eve dates don't have to be serious - they just have to be fun. So that guy you met in November who you've been talking to casually? He's perfect. My advice though? If it's been nothing but casual, don't assume that a date on December 31 makes it anything more. Sure, it'd be nice if you start your new year with a kiss from your soulmate - but the truth is, your year can start off just as nicely with a kiss from your dog.

Just my two-cents. Happy holi-dating!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Devil is in the details

I was talking with a good friend last night who I don't get to see as often as I'd like. She's wonderful and smart and funny and she gets me. She asked me what was new - and she meant with everything. Of course, I eventually filled her in on the current state of my dating life.

Somehow, we got on the subject of how certain friends and family seem very concerned that I am not currently in a relationship. She asked me why some people feel the need - or right - to offer an opinion. She suggested not sharing any dating news, and see if that helps.

But it occurs to me that writing this blog sort of opens my life up to curiosity, opinions, and advice. The truth is, no matter how frustrating unsolicited advice can be, I know it comes from a good place when it comes from my friends.

I don't blog about every dating experience (though I do blog about most). Even my closest friends don't know every little detail of every single date. What I share are those highlights that are funny, or that make me think (or both).

But the devil is in the details, as they say. My feelings and perspective is made up of all my experiences - including those I don't share.

That's the part that's frustrating - knowing that the (very well-intentioned) advice being offered can't possibly factor in every piece of information.

I can't do much about that. I couldn't possibly share everything - and if I did, no one would want to hear it all anyway. But my friends still love me and want me to be happy. They will still offer advice based on what they know.

I'll just have to sort it through as best I can.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stream of thought

Like I mentioned, I had a really nice conversation with this guy the other night. As I wrote in that post, he apologized and we'd kept talking. He texted me last week and asked when I was free again. He said no matter what is going on, he would be there.

So we met for coffee (at the same place where we were originally supposed to meet). Two hours of talking, laughing, and just a generally great time. He wanted to get together Saturday, but the area was pummeled with snow, so we settled for a phone conversation. A three-hour phone conversation that I actually enjoyed.

We made plans to get together Tuesday, to just hang out at my house and watch a movie. Monday night he was asking what kind of movies I like, making suggestions, etc. He said, "It's a date."

I never heard from him. I didn't think anything of it at first.  I knew he worked overnight, so I figured maybe he was tired or busy or whatever. Our plans weren't until later in the day, so it was no big deal.

But since I'd sent the nice "good morning" text around 10 am, naturally around 1 pm, the wheels in my head started turning. What follows is really just a stream of the thoughts that ran through my head as I trudged home through the snow...

  • It's really no big deal...the guy doesn't owe me anything. If he just disappeared at this point, I couldn't even really be angry.
  • He just seemed so different....I am just irritated that I let my guard down and trusted that he
    Just like that - he was gone.
      wouldn't be like the others. 
  • It's not like I really lost anything...I hardly know the guy. Just because it seemed like we had a good connection doesn't mean he wasn't a jerk. Maybe I dodged a bullet.
  • But would it really be such a big deal to just text me back and tell me something came up for tonight...or that he'd changed his mind altogether? Why is simple courtesy and respect such a challenge for some people? 
  • Am I just expecting too much, for people to show me the same courtesy I always show?
  • If he planned to just disappear, why make such a show of asking me about my taste in movies, or even asking me about a particular one? If he already knew he planned to no-show, what was the point? 
  • I'm so tired of having my feelings hurt. What is it that I did that warrants this sort of heartache? 
  • What could have possibly happened overnight, when we didn't even talk, to make him change his mind? Whatever it was, I probably shouldn't take it personally. After all, I wasn't even around, so how could it have anything to do with me?
  • Still, it's sort of tough not to take things personally, when the feelings being hurt belong to me.
  • At the end of the day, the guy showed his true colors the first time we were supposed to meet, when he just blew me off. No matter how good his reason was, it still demonstrates a total lack of communication. 
  • This is why I don't like having expectations...because what really happens always falls short of what you think will happen.

Then I got home and turned on NCIS. /rant

Monday, December 16, 2013


I had a very good conversation with a guy the other night (it was actually this guy... more to follow).

We got to talking about how people date with agendas. They date with a very specific goal and timeline in mind. The minute the relationship doesn't live up to those expectations, they assume it has failed.

I wonder if this is really a healthy way to date? Dating is tough - and I think expectations are half the problem. How can you possibly know the kind of relationship you want with a particular person until you've gotten to know that particular person?

I mean, sure you may know the type of relationship you ultimately want. You know you do (or don't) want to get married, start a family, etc. But even after a great first date, all you can really know for sure is that you would (or would not) like to try for a great second date.

Isn't that enough? If there's no attraction, or you both want different things, then fine - don't see him again. But what if you are attracted, and you have a great time, and it seems like your ultimate goals are similar? Does that have to mean you're meant to be? Or can it simply mean another date is a good idea?

I know couples who are absolutely meant to be together. I'm sure any of them would say now that they knew that from day one. But did they really? Or are they just so sure now that they can't remember not being sure?

Those "perfect" relationships put a lot of pressure on us imperfect daters. They ask questions like, "What is he looking for?" Or, "Where do you think it's going?" and, "When will you see him again?"

Those questions all make me feel like I'm wrong if I don't have an agenda all laid out before we end the first date.

Can't it just be enough that I know the date didn't suck, and I like him enough not to run through the parking lot?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shallow waters

During a twitter chat, The Single Woman suggested that it is good to have standards, as long as they're not shallow. I totally agree - but I think it's important to define shallow.

I guess some people consider it shallow when others are concerned with looks. While I agree that judging people only on their appearance, I don't think it's shallow to look for physical attraction in a romantic relationship. That seems reasonable and very fair, even if it seems shallow at first. 

Physical attraction is important. It's not shallow to prefer thin women or blonde men anymore than it is to prefer black men or red heads. It's just a preference. I think the same can be said for someone having a preference for certain personality traits, or lifestyle choices. Wanting to date someone of a certain religion or political affiliation doesn't make you shallow. Again - it's a preference. 

I've been called shallow because I want to date a guy with a job and a car, who doesn't live with his mom.
While I can see the guy's point, I still think this is unfair. It's not like I'm asking for pay stubs or last year's W2. I don't really care what a guy earns or drives, or where he lives.

My concern is that the two of us be in a similar place in life. I sort of have my act together (mostly), and I'm looking for someone in a similar situation. That's my preference. It's based on experience, and learning what works and what doesn't (for me). I don't think that's shallow at all.

Obviously, in a long-term relationship,  you're bound to encounter rough times.  That might mean figuring out financial problems, or health changes, or even accepting a person as she ages and her looks change. Whatever the challenge, I'm all for working through it together, and supporting one another. I just don't happen to think that's where a relationship should begin.

I think that makes me reasonable - not shallow.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Speed dating conversation

After my last speed dating experience, I thought I was probably done with the whole idea. I reconsidered, partly because of my problems with the online thing, and partly because I know I need some practice with the in-person flirting thing. I thought speed dating might help me with both of those things - so I found an event and signed up.

First - I picked an event closer to me and with better parking. Sounds silly, I know, but having to search for a place, or not knowing what kind of place it is, or wondering how far I'll have to walk stresses me out - and that makes it tough to enjoy the event.

I also picked an event geared towards people closer to the age group I prefer to date. The last one was
30 - 39, which puts me at the top of the group; this one was 35 - 47, so I was closer to the middle.

I have to say, I had a lot more fun at this event - which is ironic, since I made no matches. There was one guy I was hoping to connect with, but no one - not one person - wanted to connect with me.

Sigh. It's OK. Now I get a free speed dating event, and I will check it out again.

In the meantime - I think it helped me identify a few things I need to improve. First, about halfway through the event, they always break for appetizers and mingling. Like I said - I'm bad at the in-person flirt thing. But I think I need to work on those skills, or risk looking like I'm anti-social at these events. Sigh. I hate that as much as I hated class participation in school. Just give me the darn quiz and let me show what I know - ya know?

Anyway - I also want to work on conversation. Each date is six minutes. Some people really just want to talk the basics - what do you do, are you from the area, do you have kids, have you been married? Others love to start the conversation asking if you've done speed dating before.

In my opinion, either is fine - but neither really makes anyone stand out. The guy I really liked asked where I lived, and I mentioned my city's name, and we got to talking about the area and all the improvements that have been made in the last few years. I thought that was a good conversation - different than the regular rundown. It shows I'm invested in where I live, gave me a chance to talk about a hobby, and gave some genuine insight into how I think and what I like.

That's the kind of conversation where I feel like I shine - and it's the kind of information that I think would make a guy stand out in my mind as well.

Of course, I could just let the guys steer the conversation. That would certainly be easier - but it's not what self-improvement is about. I guess it's time I just take matters into my own hands.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I am not a Match

I joined Match.com right after Trooper broke up with me, as an experiment. I'd always read that the online dating experience was different on paid sites (versus free sites like Plenty of Fish or OK Cupid). Since I was newly single and looking to make a change, I figured it was the perfect time to test that theory.

Something you want to keep in mind when purchasing online-dating memberships - they will offer you several deals. Inevitably, the best one will be the one-year deal. It will have the lowest monthly rate. It will also be the biggest hit to your credit card, as the whole thing will be charged at once.

Something else to keep in mind - they renew automatically, at the same rate. So if you purchase a six-month membership for $20 a month, you're charged $120 at the time of purchase - and then they'll charge your card another $120 six months later to renew your membership.

If you decide to subscribe to a paid site, I suggest going with a one-year membership. If you're really not sure, purchase a one-month membership, but be very sure to cancel that subscription before it renews automatically at the inflated monthly rate.

Back to my Match.com experience....

I did not have a lot of luck on Match at all. In fact - I had decided to non-renew my six-month subscription in November 2012. I was waiting until just before my account was ready to renew - and then I met someone. Though he turned out to be a world-class jerk, my faith in the process was renewed - and so was my subscription.

Fast-forward to June 2013, and I still wasn't having much luck on the site. But, I was enjoying the Stir Event concept enough that I decided it was worth letting the subscription renew. Plus, I missed the chance to cancel prior to the renewal date, and since I'd already paid for the next six months, I let it be.

Since June, I've gone on a couple of dates from Match. Both were borderline disasters, as were all of the emails I've exchanged. I've yet to find a suitable "match" on Match - so this morning I pulled the trigger and canceled my subscription before it renews automatically in a couple weeks.

My feeling? It's not them, it's me. Match seems like the absolute perfect site for twenty and thirty somethings looking for their first real relationship, and/or marriage. The search screen is full of beautiful, hopeful faces looking for their happily ever after.

It does not seem that Match works for those of us who are a little older, and no longer under the impression that marriage necessarily lasts forever. Also - and this is not a complaint, just an honest observation - most of the men on Match are looking for someone younger and thin. (I know this because a Match profile actually gets that specific as to what a person's preferences are. The number of men who will "accept" a woman who is "curvy" or "a few extra pounds" is quite small.)

The Stir Events (at least locally) were mostly happy hours hosted at venues that appeal to a younger crowd. So it was just a collection of those same young, beautiful people looking for other young beautiful people. Which is absolutely wonderful - for the right demographic.

I think Match is probably the perfect site for some people seeking dates - it's just not for me. If you're a younger, commitment-minded single, I would say it's absolutely worth the membership. I would caution that while the paid subscription does weed out some of those just looking for a hook-up, or catfish scammers - it's not absolute. There may be fewer of them, but they're still there. 

If it were free, or even just slightly less expensive, I probably would have stayed. But the reality is, there are other ways I can spend that money each month.