Monday, June 30, 2014

Get together

In the last few weeks, I have chatted with several men online. All handsome (in their pictures anyway), all seemed nice.

All single dads.

I'm not talking about guys who share custody and have their kids a few days a week or every other weekend. I'm talking about full-time dads with no help. In one case, the guy was actually helping his grown daughter raise her young son.

These men work Monday - Friday, 9 - 5 jobs, and spend their nights and weekends caring for young kids. They made it clear to me from the beginning that they have no free time. They won't even chat online or text in the evening, or on the weekends.

Do you see my dilemma?

I was raised by a single dad, so I have all the respect in the world for these men. Still, I can't help but wonder what they hope to accomplish. They can't meet - ever. They can only message or text during work hours. How do they expect to date?

I actually posed that question to not one, but two of them. They both answered, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Which is great and all, but not very practical. It's also a pretty vague answer to a very specific problem.

Thanks to the GPS feature on Plenty of Fish, I know these are local men. That being the case...what is the point?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nice to meet you

I'm polite roughly 95% of the time. Even when someone hurts my feelings, I do my best not to hurt his. If I even say anything, I do it as nicely snd calmly and, well, politely as possible.

The other 5% is what happens when I'm caught in a bad place (usually just after having been hurt). I don't go looking for a target - but I'm less careful about being nice if one presents himself.

So this guy emailed me tonight on OK Cupid. In his "hello" message he said, "What do you know? I was just saying I needed to find myself a short, sarcastic brunette. What are the odds?"

It's worth pointing out that statement is a reference to the last section of my profile, proving this guy actually read my whole profile before emailing me. So, while a quick glance at his profile showed we have differing dating agendas, I figured I should at least acknowledge his effort.

He thought I was being presumptuous - which, I supoose is fair. He pointed out we never really know what someone is really looking for. I admitted he had a fair point, but in his next message he asked, since I know so much, what did I think he was looking for.

I repeated the first line of his profile back to him. Admittedly, I added plenty of sarcasm - but this whole thing did start with him saying he was looking for a sarcastic brunette.

So actually, I was being pretty polite.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Profile catch phrases

The real problem with online dating profiles is the catch phrases. The words we see over, and over - and over. After a while, it's tough to be sure what the words really mean - or if they even have any meaning at all.

Some benign, classic examples include:

"I love to laugh "

"I am looking for my best friend."

"I like to go out, but I also love to stay in."

These phrases really don't tell much about the profile subject. We know he likes to do things both at home and away, he likes to laugh, and would prefer to spend the majority of his time with someone he really likes.

I'm pretty sure these statements are true of just about anyone.

What we have learned is that this person isn't sure of what to say.*  Maybe he's shy, or maybe he just lacks creativity. He could also be incredibly dumb, and paid someone to write this profile. In which case, he should ask for a refund.

Then there are some of my favorite words. These appear in a variety of phrases, and are intended to say one thing, but really (I think) mean something totally different.

"I'm laid back" is really code for "I won't commit." Usually these guys have said they are looking for a relationship (because they believe they need to, in order to attract women), and this is their way of letting themselves off that hook.

"I'm easy going" is really code for "I am irresponsible. I will constantly be late and cancel plans." They think it makes them endearing. I blame their parents.

"I am drama free" is actually the most confusing. It sounds like the guy's life is simple, but what he's really saying is he will not, under any circumstances, put up with your drama. His life, however, may be a total disaster - which, of course, you'll be expected to manage.

There are more, but those are the ones I see the most (on Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid, anyway.)

Any to add?

*We could address this more in another post, but do I hate to offer criticism without suggestions for improvement. So, instead of these phrases, consider sharing what makes you laugh (maybe tell your favorite joke, or name a TV show that always makes you giggle). Suggest a few things you do at home (stream Netflix, read, build models) and things you do outside (bars or restaurants you like, activities you enjoy or want to check out). As for your best friend - describe her. This actually serves two purposes. First, it lets others know if they might be your type. Two - it helps you figure out what you really want.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Real love is easy

For a while now, I have been convinced that dozens of false starts have broken me. I have honestly wondered, if a truly good relationship came along, would I be able to participate? Would I even recognize love if it was staring me right in the face? While I suppose we have to acknowledge the possibility that I'm totally broken, I think there's an even more likely, and thankfully more hopeful, reality. 

These false starts have simply made me more practical. 

Romance 101 is being rescued from the evil queen by our knight in shining armor. The first lessons we learn about love involve impossible, forbidden relationships that can only happen when someone (usually the guy) overcomes some obstacle. We're conditioned to believe that love is only love if it hurts; if it's complicated, scary, and confusing. We're taught that unless it's difficult, it isn't love. 

I'm no expert, but I suspect these early lessons might be at least partly to blame for some of the dysfunction we find in adult relationships.

Ignore the nice guy; it's the boy who smacks you on the playground who really likes you. Don't be too "together" - he needs to feel like you need rescuing. Women are practically waiting for the first guy who comes along when they're in a bad situation. Of course, it'll be complicated (since her situation is already questionable), so it's difficult and confusing. Ah ha! Must be love.

Of course when a relationship is good, women tend to doubt. Is he really the right guy? Is this really what I want? Do I really want to settle down? Is he good for my family? Does he make me happy? They might even question themselves. He's a great guy - why don't I like him? What is wrong with me?

Romance 101 teaches women to complicate things - remember, we have to be in a lousy situation for it to be love. The truth, I think, is far less complicated. 

If it was love, you would recognize it. The fact that you question means it's not love. 

Now, is that to say that some people aren't broken? Of course not. People get hurt. They shut others out. They refuse to let themselves be happy, for fear of losing everything again. But as someone who spent years (literally) in therapy dealing with that very issue, I feel like I can confidently say:

If you're aware of that condition - if you're even asking the question, "Am I OK?" - then you most likely are. 

Walls are something we put up to defend ourselves. When they're up, there won't be any question, because no one is getting close enough to make you ask. If you're wondering, then the wall is down - so the questions are coming from somewhere else. 

I think being hurt eventually makes us smarter. Without even realizing, we become better at judging when something is wrong (probably because we've seen so much wrong, it's much easier to recognize). Then we question.

But that instinct to complicate things is still make ourselves available for our rescue. The truth is, real love isn't complicated at all. It's easy.

If what you're feeling isn't easy - then it simply isn't love.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Texting vs talking

When Trooper broke up with me (for those not keeping track, that was about two years ago) one of the "reasons" he mentioned was our lack of phone conversations. I prefer not to talk on the phone, and he felt that gap in our communication affected our ability to connect and really get to know each other. He thought if we'd talked more, maybe he would have recognized our differences sooner, which would have meant we didn't date for as long, and the break up would have been less painful.

I really didn't agree with him. Honestly, I took that whole conversation as a way for him to push blame on me for his own shortcoming.

I still don't agree, even if this article suggests Trooper may have been right.

"A lot of people still want to hear a voice (at least if they like you they do) and aren’t looking to always have to read a message on their phone. It becomes more personal and easier to connect with someone when you can actually talk to them. Ignoring this reality can create a disconnection between you and the person you are communicating with. Not to mention that it can hinder people from being able to open up and have deeper discussions with you because they simply don’t want to have to type a long dialogue. So making time to actually talk more often rather than constantly send a text message can help strengthen your ability to connect with others."

I do agree that texting can leave things open to misinterpretation. Perhaps it might even hinder a person's ability to really open up. No one wants to type a lengthy text message - and who wants to read one?

Here's my thing... if I need to have a serious, in depth conversation, I prefer it be in person. Phone conversations, to me, are still casual and open to misinterpretation. If I have to ask an important question, I want to see the person's reaction. If I know the conversation might not go his way, I don't want him to just be able to hang up on me.

Those conversations are usually long. If I'm on the phone, I can't muti-task. If I'm going to have to devote a few hours of my time to this "talk" it may as well be face to face. Honestly, if two adults can't manage to sit down in front of each other to have a conversation, how serious are they, really? If you're not serious, I'm certainly not devoting a ton of time or effort to the situation.

If all you want to know is how my day went and do I still want to meet for dinner tomorrow, I think that can be handled via text. That way, I can still be out running errands, or out with friends, or working at home, and have this conversation.

Plus, to be honest, most people (Trooper included) talk on a blue tooth. I think those are obnoxious. They pick up all sorts of backround noise and make it nearly impossible for me to hear what the person is saying. Plus, they still continue to run errands or whatever, which also means I can't hear them, and don't have their full attention.

If you're not even paying attention to me or what I'm saying, how connected are we, really? If we're not going to be connected, I would just as soon have mutiple conversations at once - which I can't do if I'm talking on the phone.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How rude

Let me start with a little background...

A few years ago I met a guy online. Back then I chatted with new people on Yahoo Messenger, and he and I went back and forth, chatting everyday for a couple weeks. We never met in person, and after a while, the chats just stopped.

Fast forward a couple of years...

Now and then, this same guy would reach out to me on various dating sites. What I thought was strange was that in every email, he seemed to be saying hi for the first time - as if he didn't remember that we already sorta knew each other. One time I even tried to remind him that we'd talked before, and that we were even members of the same group.

Fast foward to two months ago...

Eventually, I gave up reminding him we've already talked. After a while, I even gave up on the polite responses. He obviously doesn't remember me, or have the courtesy to be polite - so why should I make the effort?

Last month, he sent me an email on POF, asking how I was doing. I responded within minutes by saying I was doing well, thanks for asking.

The next morning, he replied by saying, "I guess you're not interested." Totally confused, I decided to ask what he meant. I pointed out that I'd replied to his message right away, to try and continue the conversation. I asked why that suggested to him that I was not interested.

His answer was that I had responded by saying I was doing well, but not asking how he was doing. This, apparently, indicated that I wasn't interested. He went on to explain that even people who are not interested would ask how he was doing, just to be polite. Since I couldn't be bothered to be polite, I needn't bother responding.

So - I didn't.

Now, a month later, he sent me a message on another site, again just asking how I was doing. Per his previous instructions, I didn't bother responding.

Two weeks later, I got a second message from him saying, "hmmm guess not."

I didn't reply. Here's my thing...

First - "How are you doing?" is a lousy way to start a conversation online. It's lazy, lacks creativity, and does nothing but create work for the other person.

Second - Apparently, he's more interested in tricking me (and I assume others) than actually getting to know someone. Apparently the whole thing is really just a test to see if I know how to respond.

Last - He can't remember that he's approached me before - even though my user name and picture are the same on all profiles - but I'm the one who is rude?

So, I've started ignoring him completely. It seems like the polite thing to do.