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Archive for August, 2012

He Shoots, She Scores!

It only seems prudent to have some sort of measure or checklist to be filled out at the end of a first date to let the guy know how he fared. 
Obviously, I’d bring a carbon copy set – the white copy is for him to keep, the yellow copy is mine and the pink goes to HR. 

This would save so much time and hassle going forward from the date. 
Think about it. 
If it’s a bust, you’ll give him all the pertinent information he needs, to know why a love connection wasn’t made, and maybe even some areas for improvement on his next date (with someone else…SO someone else).  Plus, you save yourself that awkward post-date, next day text where you let him down ambiguously, so as to spare his feelings, but then it inevitably ends with him asking, “but WHY??”

If it’s a great date, he’ll walk away with more specific knowledge about which things MADE it so good – thus reinforcing that behavior for the future. 
Yes… in this scenario, he’s eerily similar to my college Psych lab rat, Wilhelmina… she pushed the lever, she got a fruit loop.  Guess who kept pushing the lever??  Rewrrr…

So – as you may have guessed, I’ve designed a construct whereby you can take a few moments at the end of the date to fill it out and then go over the results with your date.  (This is all assuming you haven’t already had to jump ship, using the Early Dismissal form).  If you feel especially altruistic, you could combine this with a brief Q & A session. 
Ideally, I would have one of my nerdy tech-savvy friends design an app for your smartphone where you could check boxes, write notes, have the sums totaled, maybe even provide the results in graphic or pie chart format and then send a copy of the report straight to his phone or e-mail.  It’s like “the Square,” but for dating.

Additionally, every woman would have the ability to customize her own form because, as we know – we’re all different and have different priorities or non-negotiables that would affect the end results.  But, for my part, mine would look something like this: 

The back of the form has an area for comments/notes to elaborate on any of noteworthy points of interest.

If he scores 25 points or higher, he gets a second date. 
Pretty simple. 
And he can’t complain about not getting another chance…hey, look – it’s just a numbers game.

This idea was born out of too many so-so dates.  I’m beginning to think that perhaps the worst parts of dating have more to do with mediocrity than anything else.  Think about it.  If you go on a fantastic date – even if you don’t end up having a great love story with that person, you’ve had a genuinely fun time.  You enjoyed yourself.  If you go on a horrific date, it’s either laughable, bloggable (for some of us… who have the audacity to use online forums as an outlet for our own bad-date catharsis), or at the very least – fuel for stories to share with girlfriends and – well, …posterity. 

But, it’s the middle-of-the-road that’s the worst.  The date isn’t great.  It isn’t terrible.  It just…well, it just is.  

You know the one. 
It’s sucking your time…one painfully boring moment at a time. 
It’s numbing your mind…one excruciatingly self-centered story at a time. 
It’s lulling your charismatic sensibility into a coma of vapidity…one drip…drip…drip of monotonous conversation at a time. 
It’s draining your comedic joie-de-vive…one ‘obviously-over-his-head’ blank stare after I threw out the Michael Jordan of jokes, at a time. 
It’s invalidating your self-respect…one self-aggrandizing and obnoxiously juvenile penile reference at a time.
I’m settin’ up a cheery picture here, aren’t I? 

This guy isn’t mean or smelly or stupid, he just doesn’t wow you… like… at all.  That’s when the checklist can come in handy.  It’s hard and fast, and unarguable (yes…I’m considering my own opinions on the date to be conclusive truth.  I’m a woman, after all) reasoning to explain the date’s highlights or deficiences.  It’s irrefutable evidence as to its success or abysmal descent into fail-ville. 

Now, for those times when I don’t have the energy to go through the scoring system, I think I’m just going to play a simple game in my head while I’m on a date.  It’ll go something like this.
Would I rather. 
Would I rather stay here and see how this plays out because right now I’m so bored that I’m making a mental list of which celebrities I think could pull off an iced-out grill, 
or…  OR… would I rather be at home in my pajamas with my popcorn and shows? 
If Tim Gunn and 12 sassy fashion designers battling their way to NY’s Bryant Park beat out “let me describe why Hedge funds are an essential portfolio component to ensure private wealth grows and philanthropy is maintained,” then – chances are… we’re gonna fasttrack the checklist process and give you a direct pass to “move on.”  Sorry, guy.  Them’s the breaks.


All this Aggravation ain’t Satisfactioning Me

Singles get a lot of unsolicited advice.  We’re like the pregnant women of relationship statuses.  You might as well come rub my belly and decry the virtues of the latest parenting/sleeping/feeding system like it’s gospel truth.  (Let me be clear – I’m speaking in metaphor.  Do not, for ANY reason, come rub my belly.  That would be indescribably awkward.)

By being unmarried or not in a dating relationship, I guess I must be communicating to the world that I need them to weigh in on WHY I’m single and HOW to go about living my life in light of my pitiful partner-less situation. So, for your further voyeuristic enjoyment, I’m going to share some of the most common suggestions I hear concerning my un-romantically-tethered state and why I think they’re stupid – and in some cases, even theologically incorrect.

1.     You need to be ok being single first, if you’re ever going to be happy with someone. 

Really?  Do you mean that I have to be happy with my singleness, or just generically content with my life?  I am happy with my life!
But I also know that something’s missing.  And I think a lot of people don’t think it’s ok to say so.

I think most people who say this really do believe that the first step toward a fulfilling life is not only coming to terms with (accepting) your singleness, but being just dandy with it.
I disagree.
And if my non-believing friends will oblige me for a moment, I’ll even make a doctrinal case for this.

I believe that I was created to love.  I think God designed all humans to yearn for and exist in relationship.  We’re built that way.  It is a good thing to want to be one with another… I dare say it’s even a microcosm/foretaste of worship/communion with God.  And yet…  We live in a broken, screwed up world that doesn’t work the way it should…and so many people don’t have the opportunity to be in a romantic relationship.  But, I think (and there are certainly exceptions) that’s a result of brokenness, not something we should be happy about.  (Theology rant over)

There’s a nuanced difference between being generally unhappy, and knowing that there’s a missing piece to my ultimate happiness.  I’m a happy person – I think those around me would agree.  But I am also searching for something that I think… rather, I know will bring me more complete pleasure.

Should a homeless person have to just learn to be content without having shelter?
Should a terminally sick person exult in their physical fragility?
I’m not wallowing in some kind of depressing resignation, but I will be the first to say that I know I’m at my best when I have the opportunity to love and be loved by someone.

So, no – I don’t need to go journal the hours away on how I’m “good enough, smart enough and pretty enough withOUT a man.”
I don’t need your cheesy inspirational posters on my worth and identity as a single woman.
I don’t need you to condescendingly put your hands on my shoulders, tilt your head, eyes dripping with self-righteousness and pity, and tell me I’m perfect just the way I am.  Gag.
I’m good.  And I’ll be even better with a hunky guy at my side.

2.     You need to know yourself if anyone’s ever going to find you attractive/love you.

Done.  Next?

Look, I’m in my 30s.  I have a background in, and fascination with relationships and counseling – to the tune of a Masters degree and, as it turns out – a blog.  I was married for almost a decade.  I am (almost to a fault sometimes) a self-aware and self-reflective person.  I know myself!  I know my flaws and my struggles.  I know my strengths.  I know my areas of woundedness and I know my personal preferences and limits with potential partners.  You can rest assured that my not having found “the one” is, by no means, a product of me not knowing me.  I’ve got this.

I think what people mean when they say this, is that, if you’re single THIS late in the game, you must NOT know who you are or what you want.
Isn’t it possible that there are still a few of us out there who are single AND emotionally intelligent?  Geez!  My singleness is not proof of me being personally unaware.

3.     You shouldn’t be so picky.

Oh, this is one of my favorites.  If “favorites” means I hate it almost as much as I hate “I could care less.”  *Shudder*

DON’T be picky, you say?
Really?
So… just settle?
Nice.  I think, the very fact that I AM still single is evidence that I would rather have no one than have the wrong one.

You wouldn’t tell a 20-year old single girl not to be too picky.  You’d tell her to take her time; to be circumspect and find someone who was everything she wanted.  So, why don’t I get the same luxury?  Am I that far into pathetic-land that I should start aiming for 5’s and 6’s now?  I’m assuming there’s a direct correlation between age and caliber of attainable men.  Is there some kind of a graph I can refer to, to know just how low in the pool I need to grab from?  Once I turn 40, I suppose I should just be satisfied with a guy who throws me a “hey babe!” between Coors Light belches…
Man – I’ve got a LOT of work to do between now and October (my birthday…another year older shaves off another level of quality character I’m allowed to search for and expect in a partner, it seems)

Additionally – I think the general populous must think that single people are only looking for perfect partners.  Come on.  I’m an intelligent woman.  I know that there is no such thing.  But there IS someone who will be a perfect fit for me, and I’m holding out for that guy.  Well… at LEAST ’til October.

4.     Read XYZ book. 

Ok, I acknowledge that there are always new things to glean from good books, but I have had at least a dozen recommendations for self-help dating articles or books.  And those that I’ve read have all said the SAME things… know who you are, know how/where to look, don’t be a goober on your first date(s), and be ok with imperfection.  Wow.  I think I just wrote a best-seller.

(p.s.  Stay tuned for a post where I react to some of the tenets of “Become Your Own Matchmaker.”)

5.     Take a break from dating.  When people stop looking for things is when they inevitably find them.

Really?  Is that how it works?  Have you personally crunched the numbers on that?
I know that we hear stories all the time about people who, after they stop actively searching/trying for something, have it fall right in their laps.
But I’d contend that for each of those inspiring sagas, there are at least 100 cases where people found what they were looking for… by looking for it!!

The implication here is that I am obsessed with finding the perfect guy.  Rest easy, friends.  I don’t have an unhealthy fixation with dating.  I enjoy it!  I like searching for love.  I believe I still have a great love story ahead of me and I’m going to pursue that to the best of my abilities – not settling, not being desperate or bitter in the meantime – just actively and optimistically exploring.

There are so many others – but who has the time to respond to all of them?:  “Date lots of men,” “Go on longer dates,” “Go on shorter dates,” “Only go on lunch/coffee dates,” “Look for men at church,” “Don’t look for men online,” “Use XYZ site,” “Take up XYZ hobby to meet guys,” “Grow out your bangs,”… on and on the advice continues.  It’s exhausting…

If all the same people who were proffering up these nuggets of wisdom on singleness would put that energy toward thinking of a friend/acquaintance/co-worker to set me up with – I’d be a lot more appreciative.  A little less talk, a lot more action, friends.


Mile High Dating Club?

An airplane flight contains within it all the worst parts of dating/relationships without ANY of the perks.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been in the following situations – and no, these weren’t dates.  With the luck I’ve been having lately, I can see how they’d sound awfully similar, but…no.  Had they been, at the very least I could’ve escaped with my Early Dismissal Program.  But as it was, I was stuck – enduring all the most disadvantageous pieces of monogamy with none of the sweet reward.

I sat next to one gentleman who apparently didn’t “believe” in deodorant and kept insisting on reaching up and over me to adjust his air vent.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, his breath smelled like a series of dry heaves, viciously invading my olfactory space.  Yummy.

Then, there was the guy who “needed something from his pocket,” and as he fished around in a pair of pants inexplicably squeezed onto his portly shape, his fingers uncomfortably caressed and harassed my hip and thigh.  Nice.

On the next flight was a girl who played her music annoyingly loudly, but her angry facial expressions, front neck tattoo and multiple facial piercings made me nervous to confront her about it.  And I ended my aviation adventure with the man next to me snoring in my ear.  Now, I’m not up on the etiquette in this situation, but if we were in a relationship, you can bet your sweet bippy I’d be (lovingly, of course) elbowing him in the ribs to roll over and hush.

When you fly, you’re forced into close quarters with all kinds of miserable humanity, and without so much as a possibility of a snuggle or a kiss.  I’ve sat closer, smelled more Axe cologne and Walgreens hair gel, felt more skin-to-skin contact and heard more heavy breathing in my latest flying mates than I have in all of my most recent dates.  So…why not parlay this inevitably awkward situation into an opportunity?  Here’s what I’d like to see happen:

Speed Dating flights.

Yup.  If I have to suffer the travails of proximity to these lower life forms, then I say we turn it on its head and make it work FOR me.  And other singles.  But, mostly me.

It’s a perfect set-up.  You already have the environment to cultivate relationship building and getting to know each other.  All that would need to happen is someone to come in and organize the existing chaos.  I’m happy to be that girl.  So, be sure your seat backs are in their upright position and any pessimism is stowed away…  Here’s how it’ll work:

You’d pay a small extra fee to be put on a Speed Dating Flight.  Of course, flights would be segregated by ages – 20-somethings, 30-somethings and so on.  We’ll use planes with the two seats on either side of the aisle layout and put the women in the window seats.  Men will sit on the aisle and every 5 minutes, your friendly airline host will come over the loud speaker and instruct the men to move.  Every man will move back ONE row and sit in the seat behind where he just was.  And the two guys in the back will come to the front row.

This is everything you want in speed dating AND air travel.  Think about it:

  1. No crying babies or annoying preteens.
  2. No having to guess if that cute guy you’ve been tracking stalking ’noticing’ since gate E5 is, in fact, on the market or not.  So WHAT if he got a whole wheat bagel and a yogurt/fruit parfait at “Taste of Atlanta,” he’s sporting a dreamy MacPro in a weathered leather satchel, and you definitely heard hand-washing after he used the restroom…he COULD still be taken.
  3. There’s already a bartender/server coming around bringing you drinks and snacks.  It may not be wine flights from Crü, but a CranApple/Diet Sprite combo, served in a tiny cup filled mostly with ice, can really help take the edge off.
  4. You get to devote time to dating that doesn’t take away from your life.  You’re multi-tasking with a necessary domestic trip, so you have nothing to lose.  If none of the guys work out, you’ve at least passed the time in an entertaining way, en route to PowerPoint presentations and stale Chai lattes.
  5. You already have a seat-back tray table to use for jotting down notes.
  6. You have built in conversational material as you ask each other about where you’re flying and why.  If that runs stale in the first minute, you’ve got in-flight Sudoku puzzles and SkyMall to peruse together.  You can even feel free to use the Crossword at the back of the airline magazine to determine his intelligence level.  “No, I’m sorry ‘Tate,’ but 3-down’s four-letter “therefore” is not “Eggo.”  Thanks for stopping by.
  7. If you ARE seated next to a loser, don’t despair!  He’s moving in less than 5 minutes!

Ultimately, we’re just killing two birds with one mechanical bird.  You’ve got to fly to Newark for business ANYWAY… so why not rack up a few dates and digits as you soar to your destination?

And you know the airlines would have a heyday with this idea.  Maybe they’ll even offer incentive programs where, for every name/number you request, you earn valuable frequent flyer reward points!  I’m just spitballing here, but this idea has got some teeth.  I can hear the flight attendants now…(and please – for the love of all that is literarily snarky – please read the following in a subtle, yet noticeably nasal and personally detached internal voice):

“Ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome aboard flight 5683, with service to engaging banter, and continued service to true love.  Be certain you have stowed all sensitive topics under the seat in front of you.  Heavier conversations about exes and lists of dealbreakers should be placed in the overhead bin, and please do not delve into them as emotions may shift in flight.  All narcissistic, self-absorbed discussion should now be turned off as it may interfere with your partner’s internal relational navigation systems.

If you are seated in a speed-dating seat, you must be able to demonstrate a modicum of cleverness and charm, without causing harm to yourself or others.  Men acting like teenage boys may not sit in a dating seat.  If you are seated in a dating seat and do not meet these requirements, please notify a flight attendant at this time.

Cellular phones and other approved electronic devices may only be used to settle playful bets or show photos of your adorable dog/cat/child/ferret/prize-winning okra.  Smoking is not allowed on any flight or in any situation where you think you MAY give/receive a smooch.

To fasten your image in your current partner’s mind, place the most witty banter firmly into her memory, using interesting stories and clever jokes/entendres.  To release, simply use crude boy humor.  For your safety, we require that you not use words like “booyah” or “boobies.” Federal regulations require you to never discuss body part sizes or try out  cheesy come-on lines.

We appreciate your business.  We know you have options for your airline dating needs, so we thank you for choosing Affection Airlines.”


Operation Date – Fail.

Let me tell you about a recent date.
Or, as it should more aptly be called – an epic disappointment.

Let me set the scene.

This is a guy who came out swingin’.
He’s VERY funny.

And y’all know – that’s my jam.

It’s probably THE most attractive quality in a guy (to me), so this guy – (let’s call him “Brian”), was “in” right from the get-go.
Let me give you an example of his sense of humor.

We’d been chatting online for a while, and I’d given him my number.
Then, this popped up on my phone one day out of the blue:

Things continued like this for a while – witty banter and all that.  Swoon…  Right?

Then, the other day, he texted to see if I wanted to hang out.  He said his buddy had a table at a nightclub for his birthday and he wanted me to join them.  We texted back and forth a bit about details… I was hesitant, because the whole nightclub thing isn’t really my scene – even though I LOVE to dance and shake what my momma gave me…
Anyway, finally he called and we talked and he convinced me to come.  He was so sweet!  He said it was gonna mostly be guys and (I’d thought I might be hanging with a girlfriend that night…wasn’t sure yet) I was welcome to bring my friend(s) with me.

So – I went outside my comfort zone and said yes.  Eeek!
No grabbing a drink first to get to know him a little better before going to a noisy club.
Nope – just right into the “ntz-ntz-ntz” of Houston’s nightlife with a cute boy as my lure.

It was then that I discovered, I have no idea what one wears to a club!  I mean, I go salsa dancing and country dancing all the time, but that’s different.  I knew this crowd would be young and skinny and hip (so hip, in fact, that they would probably die before using the word “hip”) and I wanted to fit in without coming across like I was trying too hard.  Knowing what I know now, I went the wrong direction.  Hindsight is 36/24/36.

But, …I was naive.  So – I wore skinny jeans, heels, a black sleeveless top and a smoky eye.  (See picture below)  If you’re wondering why I’m telling you all this, it’s for two reasons.  One – I want to set the stage for you – that I was OUTSIDE my comfort zone, but trying my darndest to be daring and bold and embrace the spontaneity – all for the sake of that great search for love.  Two – since I write a blog about dating and I talk as if I know a thing or two, I figure it’s only fair to admit that I’m no different from anyone else – I have no clue what I’m doing!  And I have insecurities and areas of ignorance just like everyone else!!  Put me in a jazzy cafe with wine and cheese and I can charm the socks off of you with my stimulating and clever conversation, but meet me at 11:00 at a thumping nightclub packed with perfect-bodied 26-year olds, and I’m a little thrown…

Ok – so – here’s me breaking it down with a girlfriend I forced to come with me…

I think we’re adorable.

And – we DID have fun.  I danced my TAIL off for hours.  But…that’s not the point of the story.  Let’s get back to Brian.

Brian was late.  In his defense, he called me to tell me – and again, was very sweet and charming.  He wanted to make sure we didn’t get there before him and then wonder where they were.  Thoughtful, right?  He gave me the name to use to get in (OH SO Sex-in-the-City) and my girlfriends and I decided to go ahead and get our dance on while we waited.

We arrived, paid the ridiculous fee to park in some crappy gravel lot across from the club, trounced through the grit with our heels and finally arrived at the velvet-roped entrance, only to discover that we were sorely underdressed.  So, naturally – my level of nervousness plummeted another floor down.  Greeting us at the door were men in sport coats and the most perfectly (and medically) sculpted woman in the shortest, reddest, tightest dress I’ve ever laid my judgmental eyes on.  And they were just the beginning.  The inside of this place was filled with the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen.  It was like People magazine exploded into a room pulsing with sound and light.  Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, well-dressed men and exquisitely manufactured women in the sparkliest dresses.

I’m pretty sure I was the only female in the room with only her God-given parts,
sans botox/extensions/implants/tucks/plastys and the like.  But they all sure were glorious to look upon.  The people I encounter when I go salsa dancing or 2-stepping are real people, out to have fun dancing.  THESE people were like living mannequins and models parading their goods to sell to the highest bidder.

So – 11:00 turned into 11:30….turned into almost midnight before Brian arrived.  And when he finally texted me that he was there, I assumed he’d come find me on the dance floor and greet me, show me to their table, etc.  But no.  I had to go hunt him down (always an ego boost), and when I found him (or rather, we sorta bumped into each other and then hugged),
he looked NOTHING like his profile photos OR the pictures he had JUST THAT DAY sent me on my phone.
He was considerably …um… more plentiful?… than his pictures had led me to believe.
So I had to put on a “yay! So happy to finally meet you!” face over-top of my more authentic “good glory, this guy’s a total fraud” thought crawler.

Now, I know some of you may be thinking – “isn’t that awfully hypocritical of you, Sarah?  You’re imperfect and curvy.  How can you expect a guy to be a chiseled demi-god when you’re so far from that yourself?”  Well – maybe you weren’t thinking those exact words, but still – I hear your inner interrogation…I hear you and I raise you my answer.
Here’s the difference:  I market myself AS I AM.
I put photos up that are recent and I include full-body shots to show the men on those sites what they’d be getting themselves into…
What they see is a true representation of how I look – flaws and all.

THIS guy was deceptive.  He purposely duped me – and it left me feeling annoyed – almost angry – at the bait and switch.  And the saddest part is (well – the saddest part up until  THIS point in the story) – if he had shown me pictures of himself as he is right now – I still would’ve gone out with him.  I still find him attractive!  It’s his witty personality that grabbed me in the first place, and he’s got a great smile.  So WHAT if he’s got a little cushioning – birds of a feather, right?  But – he lied.  It’s the false advertising that makes me so indignant.

Still… I was already there, I’d already ventured into the unknown and underdressed, so I wanted to spend some time with him…
you know… to preach the gospel of kale and other superfoods…
(oh, settle – I’m just teasing).
I wanted to either grab a drink or dance or sit and chat, but he was looking for a buddy and told me he’d come find me in a minute.  So – I went back to the dance floor to get my shake on.

45 minutes later…
(yes – you read that correctly)

FORTY-FIVE friggin’ minutes later… I was getting peeved that I hadn’t seen any sign of him.  I thought maybe because the place was so packed, he couldn’t find me.  (I know, I know… I’m so naive…)  So, I (once again), went looking for him.  When I found him, he was being trailed by some 20-something smoking hot girl who’s body could only have been crafted by a team of specialists.  There do not exist, in nature, breasts like those on a frame that skinny.  I’m relatively certain she had some of her less-essential organs removed to get the full barbie ‘look’ she was sporting under her Oscar de la Renta knock-off.
WHAT?  Who IS this girl?  I stopped him and said, in my best “I’m just flirty and cool and zen and not at ALL annoyed that you’re ignoring me even though YOU asked ME to come tonight” voice, “Hey you!  Come dance with me!”  He muttered something about “in a minute…” while the eye candy behind him snickered and literally rolled her eyes.  Again… WHAT?  Who IS this girl?  Is she some kind of club groupie?  Is she part of some harem that I’ll eventually be asked to join (after multiple surgeries to completely alter my form)?

So – I went back to the dance floor.  Again.
I danced for another 45 minutes and decided to leave.  I texted him, “Gettin’ ready to leave…”

I heard nothing back.

Ever.

EVER!!

As in – not then.  Not later that night.  Not the next morning or at all the next day.  Not all weekend… nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.
Like I was never even there.
Like he’d never even asked me – multiple times.
Like we’d never texted AND talked multiple times.

WTH??

So – this is my life now.  I try to be edgy and enter into unfamiliar territory, for the sake of the cause… and I get too-many-burgers-jerk-store-special.

You’d think, at the very least, he’d validate my parking…

Sigh…

I’ll now be accepting suggestions for a well-composed, pithy yet snarky text to send to this guy in the coming week.  Something that says, “you’re a jerk,” and “you missed out,” and “what happened?” and “no, seriously – what happened?” all in a neat little package with a “Bazinga” finish.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?  After culling through the hundreds of entries I’m sure to receive, I’ll be awarding two prizes (I can’t say what the prizes are (because I haven’t thought of something creative enough yet)) – one for the best quip to ACTUALLY send, and one for the the zinger that makes me laugh the most.

Happy writing.


Search for the Perfect Mannequin

Have you noticed how, when you’re IN a relationship, there seems to be a steady parade of eligible and interested single people nipping at your heels – a veritable school of piranhas surrounding you in your sea of commitment.  And then, the moment you become single again, you find yourself in a dried up pond where the only fish still flapping with life are the bottom feeders or those creepy all tooth and lights and no soul kind?  Where did the swarms of eager bachelors go?  Now that you’re free to explore your deep-sea options, the proverbial well is dry.  What gives?

My friend (and inspiration for this post) Glenda suggests it has something to do with the “On Display” effect.  Similar to the Butterfly effect, but not nearly so deterministic… actually it’s not the same at all.

  When the people around you can see you as you are in a relationship, they see the whole put-together package.  They see “relationship you.”  And they like what they see.  They see the way you dote on your man (or girl, as the sitch calls for).  They see the way you listen, care for him, make him laugh, do sweet things for him, nurse him when he’s sick, throw parties for him on special occasions, bring out the best in each of you and generally make him happy.  They also see that light of love in you that only shines when you’re “on display.”  And they want that.

She likened it to the way we like to buy an outfit as it’s displayed on a store mannequin.  You know how this goes – you walk past the window and see that they already have the pencil skirt and Bohemian-chic top impeccably paired with a whimsical summer scarf and the perfect chunky, but not too chunky accessories.  “That’s the ‘look’ I want!” you think to yourself, and lazily go buy all the components.  Same goes for partner hunting – you see someone in their relationship ‘element’ being all perfectly Bohemian-chic and you want ‘em.  You want THAT version.  But the reality is that in the real world, you don’t get to pick out the mannequin’s ensemble.  You have to put together your own. 

In some sense, if it weren’t for the fact that there is a necessary grieving and healing process we have to endure after a break-up (such a bummer that we can’t just skip that step…*exasperated sigh…), we could get back on the market while the “on display” energy is still fresh.  You know – word hasn’t spread yet that you’re pathetic and alone and the world of available men/women still sees you as “store window ready.”  Wouldn’t that be nice?  You could bag an even better shopper while you still have the vestiges of relationship success clinging to your pencil skirt.  But, alas, when we try to do that, we unfortunately bypass an essential step in our own journey…blah blah…something …something…personal growth.

 I’m gonna be perfectly honest here – I make a cracking good girlfriend.  You can ask my ex-boyfriends and they’d tell you.  In fact, I’m contemplating a new dating system wherein I have my current crush contacted by former lovers to hear their personal testimonials of my relationship excellence.  I mean, you wouldn’t hire a new employee without getting sufficient positive references, am I right?  The same goes here.  In fact, I dare say it would INCREASE my chances with someone I have my eye on – because my past boyfriends can speak to how I am when I’m off the market, and ‘on display.’ 

You all know this is true.  When you’re on those first few dates with someone new, no matter how much you try to be your true authentic self, no matter HOW you slice it, you’re in full-on illusion mode.  You’re trying to present the best version of yourself, which – while admirable – often gets in the way of that person seeing the version of you he would know if he were 6-months in.  You can’t be as soft or as vulnerable or as trusting on date #2 as you can on date #100.  You also can’t feel that same ease you’ll feel later on, which gets in the way of being yourself.  It’s a vicious loop.  Perhaps this is why we so often involve alcohol – it “lets” us be more of our real selves… In Vino Veritas, and all that.  Be charming!  Be adorable!  Be attractive!  Be yourself?  Yes!  But, not all the way…?  This is where those past boyfriend endorsements can really come in handy. 

Wouldn’t it be awesome if an hour into a date with a guy you really think you could have an amazing connection with, you could have some kind of mid-date commercial?  The record audibly scratches, your date is paused and in walks your ex with some “exciting news about the girl you’re with!”  I’m fine funding these commercial interruptions with blatant product placement – whatever it takes to get the guy, I say.  They can tell the new prospect – “dude, she’s a catch.  Really.  She’ll take care of you when you’re sick, she makes a mean Southwest soup, she’s an amazing mom, she sings in the shower when she thinks you’re not in the house, for all her bluster about being a sleep princess – she really does want someone to cuddle with while she falls asleep, she makes real sacrifices for the people she loves, she’ll keep you laughing, she works hard at the relationship, she gives creative and thoughtful gifts, she’s loyal, she’ll fight for you, and she’s a dang good kisser.”  Now, back to your regular programming.

That’s really the only way to convey your ‘on-display’ gestalt to the next generation of love candidates. 

But until I get my ghosts of boyfriends past commercial series into syndication, I guess I’ll have to rely on finding a guy who is creative enough to walk right past the ready-to-wear mannequin and go pick out his own outfit.  Hopefully it won’t involve a pencil skirt.


7 Highly Ineffective Habits of Manly People

From the sea of singledome, if you listen closely, you can hear the quiet cries of women everywhere – often too individually timid to talk to men about some of the most infuriating behaviors we encounter in dating – often too scared to confront these issues for fear that the man will run – often too insecure in our own identities to claim the love and care we deserve.  But, if the goal of this search for love is to find someone who will truly know you and then genuinely love you, then shouldn’t we be completely authentic with ourselves and our partners?

First, I’d like to go on record as fully acknowledging that for every annoying or hurtful behavior men demonstrate, women have something equally exasperating that we bring to the table.  And hear me on this – for MOST of these issues, it truly is a blind spot.  It’s UNintentional.  None of us (well, except for the sociopaths and meanies out there, but I’m assuming (naively?) the majority of my readership are normal and kind people who really want to live lives that bring happiness to themselves and those around them) – none of us wants to hurt other people.  These are areas that, for some reason – whether because of our own past hurt/damage, or due to our unwillingness to dig inward and conduct some necessary self-reflection – have not yet been changed/honed/smoothed out – and are hurting the people around us.  So – today’s installment is about men, but – if any of my male readers want to weigh in on women’s blind spots – feel free to post comments or contact me!  Ok – here we go…

The Commitment Fake-Out:

Men are wont to throw around words and phrases that foreshadow a commitment they’re not actually prepared to offer.  I don’t know if it’s the warm fuzzies they feel ‘in the moment,’ or if they just really don’t realize they’re doing it… but they need to know this:  women take that stuff to heart.  We internalize those words and ‘bank’ on them.  Even when we know that men say these things without meaning them, and that we ought NOT to do that, we can’t help it – it’s like a built-in security mechanism.  Our love-thirsty hearts hear something that sounds future-thinking and we let hope bubble up that the guy sees a real future with us.  Sometimes these are subtle and sometimes men must just not think at all when throwing around such weighty words…

Here are a few examples.  These are phrases that a man might toss out during conversation in the initial courtship phase (think – dates 1 through 7):

“Oh, I can’t wait for my mom to meet you – she’s gonna love you!”
      translation:  I’m significant enough to him to meet his family.

“Oh my gosh, when we visit [fill-in-the-blank-city/country], you’ll have to try the…”
     translation:  He likes me enough to want to travel with me.

“Your [fill-in-the-blank household appliance or electronics] stinks.  Don’t worry, I have a great one we’ll end up using.”
translation:  We’re going to end up living together (married) one day – so I don’t need to buy a new wifi router/flux capacitor/whatever.

“I love you.”
translation:  He loves me.  (weird, right?)

And you WONDER why women seem so “marriage crazy?”  It’s because men go around talking as if they’re going to marry you and then act shocked when you look forward to settling down with them!?

Men – don’t say more than you actually think/feel.  We’d much rather take things at a slower pace and forego a little of the fireworks/drama if we know that the messages we’re receiving from you are authentic.  If you really DO see a future with us, then by all means, say so!  That’s exciting to hear – duh.  But, if you’re on the fence, don’t let a flirty momentary spike betray your true intentions toward us.  We can handle a slower clip.  We can’t handle falseness.

Inconsistency:

Any woman reading this already knows what I’m going to say.  This is one of the classic blunders.  The most famous of which is never get into a land war in Asia.  But only slightly less well-known is this: never go against a woman when mixed messages are on the line!  We may hate this more than any other thing…I’m not ready to fully commit to that statement just yet… I mean, there are spiders, bad breath, crooked gig lines and improper uses of the words you’re and your… but still – this MAY trump all of those.

This is that awkward and confusing jump from a certain level of communication or affection or generally being “into you” that waxes and wanes without explanation.  And we’re left to our own internal devices to try to decipher the behavior.

One minute you’re blowin’ up our phone with flirty texts, the next – we go for days without hearing from you.  One minute we’re getting “good morning” phone calls, then you fall off the map.  One minute we’re hanging out at a steady rate (say, twice a week?) and then it inexplicably dies down.  And the strangest part is, often it’ll pick back up without explanation.  And we’re left dumbfounded.  What gives?  Are men this fickle?  Are they waffling back and forth between being “into us” and then not?  I really don’t know.

But here’s what you need to know, men.  When you set a certain pattern of communication into motion, we use that to gauge the “tone” of the relationship.  So, when you suddenly change it, we’re left to wonder what the HECK you’re thinking about us!  And usually, we go to a pretty pessimistic place.  In man speak, I think it goes something like this… don’t cruise along in 5th gear and suddenly shift to neutral and expect us not to emotionally go flying through the window.
(How’d I do on my automotive metaphor?  I’m ‘gearing’ up to be able to handle a sports metaphor…but we’re still a long way off…)

Teasing:

This one is such a FINE line.  Most well-adjusted women dig a healthy amount of jabs/trash-talk/teasing – IF it’s done in a friendly and flirtatious way.  In fact, it can spice up the relational banter considerably.  But it is SO easy for men to take it to a mean place without even realizing it.  One minute they’re talking smack about being a better ping-pong opponent (though…to be fair, no man can actually say that about me – I’m basically a ping-pong MASTER), and the next, they’re taking it to a more personal level where teasing becomes mocking/belittling.  I just had a friend ask my advice on this issue this morning.  Her guy will unwittingly join in with a mutual friend and tease her to the point of bullying.  He thinks he’s being funny, but she feels ganged up on.

Men, the best way to diffuse this particular blind spot is to pay attention to her non-verbal cues.  If the laughter becomes less authentic sounding, if her face falls, if she avoids eye contact, if she grows quiet – she’s not into it anymore.

Here’s the great news on this one.  There is a FOOLPROOF solution, men.
You CANNOT lose if you do this.  Ahem…here goes… (I still can’t believe I’m just dishing these pearls out for free…):
If you even think you MAY have crossed this line… (now this gets very intricate and tricky, so try to keep up) – ask.
Ask her.  Yup – that simple.  And you’ll come out on top, regardless.
Soften your demeanor (always a plus in just about every encounter with a woman) and approach her kindly with something like this:  “Oh, sweetie…did I go too far?”  or  “Oh – I’m sorry – did I upset you with my teasing?”
Boom.
Done.
You have just reset the entire system here.  Because of your perceptive skillz – she’s now back to being enamored with you.

This can only go one of two ways.  She’ll either admit that it DID go too far, but she’ll be touched by your sensitivity and kindness.
Or she’ll assure you that you didn’t actually take it too far – that she was totally into it and having fun – but she’ll still be touched that you checked in, just in case.  It’s win-win, guys!

Bragging:

Men have a tendency to want to to show off things that most women don’t care about as much as you all think we do!  Now, some women care more than others, so I may be a bit of an outlier here… but I honestly do not care what kind of car you have.  I care if it’s relatively clean (though, that’s entirely hypocritical, because my car is a disaster – it’s basically an extension of my purse… peppered with various dried-up markers, empty water bottles and a few rogue shriveled-up sweet potato fries in the mix there…), I care if it has a/c (c’mon – this is Houston, peeps – if there’s sweat dripping down my back, I don’t care HOW cute you are…love isn’t in the air), I care if there’s a working radio – I mean, how else are we supposed to have a rousing go at the radio game?  But other than that, I couldn’t care less.  And – to make matters worse, I pobably won’t even NOTICE if it’s something fancy.  After a ride in your car, I’ll know what color it is and if it’s comfy.  That’s about it it.  You know when someone calls themself a “car person?”  Well I’m the opposite of that.  I’m a person person.  (Hmm…that doesn’t sound very exciting.  I’m definitely gonna have to work on that title…)

So, I don’t need you to go on and on about your car, or your watch, or your expensive trip to Italy (unless we’re going to talk about the delicious FOOD you ate when you were there – that’s fair game), or any other topic that’s solely intended to impress me based on fiscal success.  If you’ve done well for yourself, it’ll show in time – let it come across organically.  Don’t force that idea on me… it makes you look insecure or like you have your priorities outta whack.

Another way this issue can surface is in simply talking TOO much about yourself.  And this includes false humility too.  Talking too much about how you’re “not that good at ____” or about how humble you are – counts.  Ugh.

Begging:

This is another area where there’s a fine line.  It would be overly simplistic of me to say that when a woman says no to something (and I am talking about a broad range of things here, not just physical stuff), that she definitively means no.  We’re all experienced enough in the nuanced dance of man/woman relationships to know that often women say no, but hope to be chased a little.  Or even when we don’t hope to be chased, if we happen to find ourselves on the receiving end of a hot pursuit, it’s exciting.  If I turn someone down (say, for a date), and he doesn’t give up – it can really go either way, depending on his approach.  It’s ALL in your style, guys.  Having a “I see something worth fighting for” attitude can be mighty sexy.  Desperately begging for us to give you another chance is like seeing a wounded animal on the side of the road and wanting to see it put out of its misery.

The two tips I can give you on this – and again, this is a tricky road, I’ll be the first to admit – are:

1.  Read the room.  Really.  (OK, not ‘literally’ …you can’t read a room, that’s just silly).  But you CAN decode the verbal AND non-verbal cues here.  If you’ve asked for something (anything from “let’s grab a drink!?” to “one more kiss?” and more), and she says no – HOW did she say it?  Was it coy?  Was it uncertain?  Was it playful?  Or did she look like she’d rather be stabbed in the eye?  I know it’s a gray area, but really think here – Playful?  Or eye-stabbing?  They are SO similar…

2.  If you DO decide to press the issue, and I cannot stress this enough – do it in a winsome way.  No, not a “whinesome” way…definitely don’t whine.  Don’t succumb to baby talk (I’m not making this up).  Don’t poke your bottom lip out.  Please don’t be that guy.  Be a man.  Be a man who she could say no to, but just can’t say no to.  You can offer up (in a charming and flirty manner) compelling reasons why she should go out with you, or stay out a little longer, or whatever it is that’s on the table.  How do you do this without coming off desperate or smarmy?  Be clear on the fact that you CAN accept defeat, that she CAN stick to her “no” guns, but that you have something to offer that she can’t resist.  Don’t be the guy who says over and over, “please? C’mon!!?!”  (and…I feel like a broken record here, but this is all coming from either personal experience or from stories close friends have related to me).  Be the guy who wins her over by mentally seducing her with your charm, wit and adorable persistence.  Begging is not sexy.  Confidence IS.

Not Complimenting:

What is it with men on the dating scene these days…it’s like pulling teeth to get a sincere compliment.  I’m not suggesting that compliments should only go one way.  No – I’m the queen of telling you what I like.  If you’re handsome, you’re gonna know it.  If you’re funny, or smart, or a great dresser, or you can recite the quadratic formula – you’re gonna be praised, don’t worry.  But – we girls put a lot of thought into how we look, what we say, heck – the WAY we sit on a date even… so, throw us a bone every now and then.  If you like something, say so.  And here’s why.  It’s not because we need our ego stroked.  It’s because it shows a vulnerability and softness for someone to take a one-down approach and acknowledge a good quality.  An insecure man doesn’t compliment.  But a confident man can step outside of himself to recognize a characteristic that’s admirable or likeable or attractive and then has the boldness to call it what it is.

Not Planning

No matter how liberated we are, women want a man who will take charge and initiate spending time with us.  But, so often, in this lazy, postmodern dating world, men just sit back and wait for women to chase after them.  And, hey – I’m a chaser.  I’m not afraid to go after something I see as potentially valuable.  But, oh, man – to be pursued… and well?  MMmmmm…

Whether you are a planner by nature, or you’re a take-life-as-it-comes kinda guy – you can impress and ultimately show love/care for a woman by having the forethought to make plans with her.  Trust me on this.  Every woman loves the spontaneous stuff too.  But, give us a guy who takes the time to text/call/e-mail to ask us out – more than 24 hrs. in advance, and we may very well swoon right into a full-on fainting spell.  I’ve said before that the root of real romance is effort and thoughtfulness.  Planning requires both of those… hence, planning is romantic.  I know, I know…in the movies, the romance always happens on the fly.  And I don’t want to dismiss that kind either.  If a guy I was seeing just showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and a movie – I would LOVE it.  (well, as long as he was ok with the possibility of finding me with a green mask on my face in my pjs mid-self-pedicure… hey – that’s what you risk when you just show up.  But if you can deal, so can I).  We LOVE the spontaneous gestures.  Love.  But we also really love being thought of.  And it lets us know that in the future, you’ll be the kind of guy who will THINK about us even when we’re not right there.  Oh, that makes my heart feel smooshy just thinking about it.  Finding a guy who will think about you during his day, and then take the time to make a plan with you – because he’s so excited to see you – that’s relationship butter.

And let’s not kid ourselves, …there are countless other things that people do to impede relational growth.  I’m not trying to fix the whole world in one post.  But these are the ones I hear  or experience most often.  The very fact that there are successful dating relationships happening out there is a testimony to the fact that
a.  there ARE still some good guys left (there ARE some good guys left, there ARE some good guys left, there ARE…  ), and
b.  people (women included) are forgiving.
That oughtta keep hope alive for a while… right?

Here’s hoping.


Tips & Trends

Since so many of you have asked my advice on how to make your profiles REALLY ‘pop,’ I thought I’d dispense some more of my color commentary on all things profiles, including a continued look at what’s hot right now, so you can stay on trend.  Here’s what’s new and in vogue.

1.  Headless shots.  You REALLY don’t want to give the whole cow away right from the get-go, you feel me?  So – keep the intrigue alive by eradicating any hope a viewer has of seeing what you truly look like.  After all, beauty is within, right?

If you can’t eliminate the head altogether, at the VERY least, tuck your chin, stand far back from the mirror
or  hide in the shadows – very Phantom of the Opera-esque.


Now, if you want to really up the mystery-factor – don’t include a photo at all,
but give yourself a username that suggests you’re mighty hunky…

2.  Glamour, glamour, glamour.  Set yourself apart by taking it old-school glamour shot.
Don’t be afraid to go full-tilt here and  sport a fauxhawk, a mullet or some zipper earrings.

Photo submitted by my friend, Nancy

If you get in a pinch – maybe your local mall doesn’t HAVE a glamour shot studio anymore (as if…) – one fallback idea is to post your prom photo.  Don’t worry at ALL that it’s extraordinarily outdated.  That only adds to the excitement.

And, no QUESTION he gets extra points for matching the vest, tie, boutonniere, her dress and corsage.  Whew!  LOOOtta pink.

3.  Be purposely enigmatic in your writing style.  Now, there is a fine line between coming across as stupid or uneducated and simply mysterious and cryptic.  I think these examples will really shine a light on that perfect balance:

You’ll note this guy’s poetic artistry and use of expressive phrasing like, “after you know what it was he a man,”
and “help create the bomb I need to play on people’s spirits.”
This guy – THIS GUY gets it.
He knows just how to craft his philosophical musings in such a way as to make women scratch their heads in that “I’m SO intrigued!” sort of way.  Niiiice…

Here’s another in this vein:

He thinks women ‘or’ the best thing God ‘every’ made.  See what he did there?  Do you see the genius?  He could have gone so many other orthodox (read: boring) routes.  He COULD have just actually written about himself in the section designated for talking about yourself.  He COULD have simply used traditional words like “are” and “ever,” but he really mixed it up by going “or” and “every.”  He COULD have, under “Perfect Match,” said “someone who can give as much love as I give,” but no – he chose to go with the artsy “igove.”  Brilliant.

4.  Mug shots.  Mug shots are ALL the rage this season.  If you have an actual mug shot from a recent booking, that’s best, but if not, feel free to improvise and create the illusion of one.  Posing with an angry face in front of fence posts or any corrugated backdrop/structure can drive home the criminal-chic look.

5.  Show the ladies what you USED to look like in your glory days – you know, the 70’s – when you were peaking.  Including photos from 40 years ago will not only show how much you’ve aged and wrinkled up (and who doesn’t love that), but it demonstrates a range of “looks.”  These are two photos from the same profile, to make my point:

6.  Get artsy.  Photos of you in everyday life are so passe.  Play with new and exciting backgrounds and effects.

You can also use photoshop or other manipulative software to superimpose your photo into optimal shots like this one:

7.  Opt for zero punctuation.  It’s just getting in the way of the art of your written word.  Punctuation is so yesterday.

8.  Change the perspective.  Think outside the box here – why choose a regular right-side-up shot, when you can take it to the side?  This forces the viewer to have to bend her neck uncomfortably to the side, giving her a horrible strained muscle, putting her RIGHT where you want her – at your mercy to step in like a sideways knight in shining armor and rub the crick out.  Well-played, sideways man.  Well-played.

9.  Show the ladies what you’re capable of “bagging.”  This works especially well if you’re old and leathery.  Photos of you with a sexy 20-something model by your side really send a positive message about who you are and what you want.  If you are lucky enough to get a shot in a parking lot with an 8-wheeler unloading its wares, …double score.

10.  Use photos of random objects or scenes that have nothing to do with you or your lifestyle.

This is not my caption.  This is how it was listed on this guy’s profile.

I guess it’s not every day that you see a parrot (macaw?  I never know…) perched on a handicapped parking sign, so, I mean – this guy really had no choice BUT to post this.  It was just the right thing to do.

Once again – not making this stuff up – this guy really did have this as one of his profile photos.  But you know WHAT?  That’s great.  It let’s me know a few things:  a. he has a foot fetish.  Fair enough.  b. He spells ‘probably’ the alternative way – such an independent thinker.  THIS is the kind of innovation you need to make your profile stand out.

11.  One last trick that should bring the women running…

Superimposing interesting text over your photos.  Check it:

He’s got the front, folks.  And now everyone knows it.  VERY classy move.

He’s started the conversation FOR you!  This guy is a real go-getter.  Admirable.

Well – these aren’t ALL the tricks at your disposal, but it’s certainly enough to get you started on the right track.

Trust me – go fishing with these lures, and you’ll be reeling in the women in NO time.  Would I lie?


Oh, honestly…

How many times have you heard someone say (or have you thought to yourself), “I wish I could just get in the HEAD of…”
Men talk all the time about how women can’t be ‘figured out,’ and women are constantly wondering why men talk/act the way they do.

Wouldn’t the world of dating and relationships be enormously aided if we could all actually be HONEST?  I’m really only asking for grown-ups to DO what we’re taught as children – tell the TRUTH!

But I do mean more than simply, “don’t lie.”
I’m talking about a new, radical, raw version of honesty.
One where people actually say what they’re thinking and feeling, even INITIATE doing so, especially as it relates to significant others and potential significant others.

I’d like to propose that the key to figuring out and working on relationships isn’t “communication” or “compromise,” (don’t freak out if you think those are cornerstones of great partnerships – I do too.  I just think they’re steps 2 and beyond.  Stick with me), but rather – is what you honestly BELIEVE to be true about yourself and about your partner.  It’s your core beliefs that affect the success or failure of a relationship.  Now beliefs aren’t necessarily truth.  And, beliefs are ever-changing, as people get more information.  Also – the more self-aware and reflective a person is, the more those beliefs can be fluid and dynamic as the relationship moves and changes.  But, if our core beliefs about another person shape our reaction to and relationship with that person, then shouldn’t we have the most accurate and best information to base those beliefs on?

Thusly (I love that word), if I can know what a guy is really thinking about me, I can more precisely form my beliefs about who he is and if he’s the kind of man I want.  The same is true in reverse.  I try to give the most honest picture of who I am – (even sometimes to the unfortunate point of coming across pushy or overbearing) – so that a guy will KNOW me.  If he knows the real me, he can decide what he believes about me and about us.

So – radical honesty.  It might not always be initially comfortable or feel safe, but I maintain that it’s good.  And in the end, I think it brings a lot of happiness and peace. (Some of the guys I’ve interacted with online might not agree…but…)

I’ve started doing this sometimes when I tell someone we’re not a good match.  If he presses and ASKS, I’ll tell him exactly WHY I don’t want to date him again.  Now, this gets tricky, because some information is helpful – like asking a potential employer, after an interview and then getting turned down from the job, why you didn’t get the position.  Feedback helps you fix things for the next time, right?  But sometimes it’s things the person can’t change (too short, not physically attractive to me, not smart enough, etc.)…and I’m still trying to figure out what to do when THOSE are the reasons why a relationship won’t work.  Guys, feel free to chime in here – do you WANT to know why it’s a ‘no?’  At all costs?

For MY part, I do.  Even if it’s unchangeable.  Even if it will temporarily hurt – because it’s information about myself, but ALSO it’s information about the guy I presumably like.  So often, the reasons why someone would choose NOT to date me – HE thinks will hurt my feelings, but in actuality, it will help me make the break from him more easily.

An example – a guy who thinks I’m “too religious” (which is kinda a funny way to put that, considering how much I know I struggle/wrestle with my faith and life) because I go to church every weekend and play/sing on the worship team from time to time.  (Ok, ok,…I may also be a teensy bit of a theology nerd…but this doesn’t mean I need to be with someone else who is).  He thinks he’s sparing my feelings by not telling me this is what he didn’t like, but in the end, I’d much rather know that HE is someone who bristles at having a real faith-walk.  That’s GREAT information for me – I can cut my losses, and move on to the next guy with ease, knowing this one wasn’t right for me anyway.  That’s SO much more preferable to wondering if it was a thousand other possibilities…

But it’s more than just being honest with someone about why you wouldn’t go on another date.  It’s also about sharing with someone else your thoughts AS you process how you feel about him/her.  Wouldn’t the dating world be drastically better if we knew what the other person truly thought of us as we explored the connection?

The following are true life scenarios from the experiences of close girlfriends.  Imagine how each of these would be bettered by simply having access to the thoughts of the other person:

1.  “Penny” flirts with a guy at a coffeeshop and gives him her number.  A week or so later they meet up for coffee and it turns into an all-day coffee, wine, amazing conversation, kissing and incredible connection all day and into the evening.  She’s really excited about having met someone she connected with so obviously, but as the next three weeks go by, he calls her almost every day – keeping up with her life, job, etc., but never asks her to hang out again.  Such a mystery.  If he’d just wanted to have the one interaction, he wouldn’t keep calling.  If he wanted a relationship, he would’ve initiated getting together, right?  How much angst could he save Penny by just saying, “Here’s what’s going on…” and telling her.  Instead, she’s left guessing all the possible reasons for his actions (or lack thereof) and remaining in a state of confusion and hurt.

2.  “Stella” has gone out several times with an amazing guy who genuinely seems to like her, but never initiates get-togethers, and seems to keep some emotional distance by not letting her in on his feelings about her.  He’s still dating multiple people, which is ok with Stella, if she knew where she stood, but all she has to go on is great dates where everything seems to go just right – lots of laughing, similar views, shared interests and good smoochin’ – and no other information.  So, this leaves her hesitant to let herself feel those butterflies/smooshy feelings, lest she find out she’s just kinda being played.  Again – how nice would it be for her to have a glimpse into his thinking?  Maybe he loves her personality, but doesn’t find her physically attractive?  Maybe he’s just not in a season of life where he wants to settle down with one person?  Any of this would be information – which is what all of us women want!

3.  Similar to Penny, “Nina” has gone out with a guy where the chemistry was great (from her perspective), they had awesome conversation, etc., etc. (this story is getting kinda familiar now, huh?), and since then, all she’s gotten is lots of texts, none of which are to make plans in the future.  They’re always things like:  “I’m out with some friends at X bar – come join us!” but never anything like “I’d love to hang out again – what are you doing Friday?”  Ugh… (I’m only ugh-ing in solidarity.  We all know if this was me, I’d just ASK the guy what was up – because that’s what I do.  I stifle men with my honestly curious approach.)

Now – a GOOD example of another friend, Cortney – who turned her guy down for some lovin’ one night because she was kinda grossed out that he came to bed without brushing his teeth.  The next day, he had the guts to ask what the disconnect was the night before.  And then she had the guts to just come clean and answer him honestly, “Well, if you really want to know – I thought it was gross that you didn’t brush your teeth before getting into bed.”  The next time they went out on a date, he put a fresh toothbrush on the table, laughed, and said something about how that won’t ever be a problem again.  He had a great sense of humor about it and – problem solved!

Now, I know that’s a silly example.  It’s much easier to tell your partner that they need to brush their teeth, than it is to talk about some other things.  I think the 2 problems standing in our way of NOT being honest are:

1.  Not wanting to hurt feelings.  But, as I already said, in most cases (of course there are exceptions), many people (me included) would rather know something hurtful (like – “you’re not skinny enough for me,” or – “I don’t like your children” (though, that would NEVER happen.  My children are adorable)), than to know nothing.  Knowing nothing means I try to figure it out myself and when women (and I’m guessing men too) try to ‘figure it out’ themselves, they default to assigning blame in places of deep insecurity and fear.  So – help a sista out and at least put us on the right, albeit hard to hear, path.

2.  Not being honest with yourself.  People who don’t know themselves or don’t take time to examine their own thoughts/hearts – truly don’t know WHY they’re acting a certain way.  And if you don’t know yourself, you can’t REALLY know or love me.  Anyone can be self-aware if you’ll take the TIME to think/reflect on your life and what you want and who you are.  To not do so is lazy, and in the end, it hurts the people around you who just want to know what’s up!

AND…this honesty thing swings both ways – not just telling someone what you DON’T like, but being free enough and bold enough to tell someone that you DO like him/her and why.
How good would it feel to get a text from someone you’re dating, saying how much they like XYZ about you?  Or while you’re spending time together, to step outside the conversation for a moment (enter that meta-commentary we talked about before) and just say how beautiful she is, or how interesting he is to listen to, or how much (if you’re at this point), you LOVE him/her?  Makes my heart swell to think about it…

I’ll end on this bizarre note:  My ex-boyfriend and I did something unorthodox, that I LOVED.  This was born out of some interesting conversations about past relationships and our mutual love of couples/relationship counseling (I have my degree in it and he was pursuing his).  Before we ever met, we e-mailed each other an ‘interview’ of sorts.  We called ’em quizzes, but they were really intended to help us vet each other before we ever even spent time together.  While I wouldn’t do this with all the potential partners I come into contact with now, I admit, I wouldn’t mind getting a guy’s answers to these questions as I’m trying to figure out if he’d be a good fit for me!?  What it DID, though – was open up the field of discussion on lots of sticky-wicket issues and gave us a snapshot of each others’ personalities.  It also softened our fears or hesitations in feeling free to be honest with each other.  It was like, we already knew each other well enough to feel safe asking tricky questions or saying how we really felt about each other.

So – I present to you our “quiz.”  I’ve combined the two interviews into one long one.

Enjoy.  And… yes – the next post will be funny.  🙂

Quiz to End All Quizzes…

What do you think are your top (2 or 3) relational strengths?

Weaknesses?

Do you smoke?  Ever?

What are your thoughts on drinking?

How often are you: 5-15min late? More than 15min late? Describe a circumstance when it would be acceptable to be more than 15min late:

What things are OK to hide from your spouse?

What is the best quality/memory from your childhood?

What kind of relationship do you have with your parents?
Siblings?

Do you play an instrument or sing?  Well?  In what capacity/venue?

In another life, what would you be, job/career-wise?

What do you think it means to live to honor Christ in your relationship/marriage?  Give concrete examples.

How much time (percentage) each day do you spend in reflection (about yourself, your significant other, etc.)?

In 5 years, where do you want to be:

–       in your job/career?

–       Spiritually?

–       Relationally?

How would your friends describe you?

What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a potential mate?

What are your top 3 dealbreakers?

What are some “non-negotiables” for you?

What are some of your pet peeves?

What is your love language? (words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, physical closeness, acts of service)

How would/will you act/treat your spouse when she’s sick?

Do you have a temper?  What do you do when you get angry?

How do you resolve conflict?

Do you like to snuggle?

What’s an ideal temperature in your home?

Which of these statements best reflects your views on a healthy relationship?

–       Marriage is about communicating well.

–       Good marriage depends on what you truly believe.

–       A successful marriage is full of compromise

Describe a perfect day – money is no object.

Do you think it’s ok to have sex before marriage?  Do you intend to?

Do you think you have the capacity (or the desire?) to put your spouse above yourself?  That is, to consider her needs/wants before your own?

Real or fake Christmas tree?

Early bird or night owl?

How do you like your steak?

Do you think you are a considerate/thoughtful (in the real sense of the words, not polite) lover?

Do you dance?

Who is your best friend?

Do you think you are a sacrificial person?  What does that mean to you?

Who is your oldest friend?

Who is your role model / mentor?

What is your biggest fear?

Do you have any phobias?

If you were to write a book, what would the title be?

Top three books you’ve read?

Top three tv shows you enjoy?

Top three movies of all time?

Top three artists/albums?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

What did you have for breakfast?

Name your top 2 or 3 vices

What can you not live without?

About what things are you selfish or unyielding?

A perfect dinner would be…

Do you have any bad habits?

List 3 quirky/random or seemingly insignificant details about you or your life that I might not otherwise learn in the first few meetings/conversations?

Tell one funny or embarrassing story about yourself:

Where would you visit if you had the chance?

Do you tend toward optimism or pessimism?

Are you a trusting or distrustful person, generally?

Where would you want to retire?

How do you feel about cursing?

Thoughts on pets:

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

How are you financially?  Saver?  Spender?  Worrier?  Free-spirit?  Do you stick to a budget, or try to?

Do you like your job?

What is your favorite smell?

How do you feel when someone interrupts you?

On a workday, how many times, whether via text or phone, would you like to connect to your guy/girl?

Do you communicate during lovemaking to tell your partner what you’d like, or do you expect him to just know?

How long do you take to forgive if you are justifiably offended or wounded emotionally?

Describe what your future spouse’s relationship to your children would look like:

How important is it to you that your mate understands you deeply? Can you be happy and maintain a healthy relationship even if this doesn’t happen?

Under what circumstances would you consider filing for divorce? This is a difficult question but please elaborate openly.

How often would you like to eat out at restaurants or order food?

Where are you on the neat freak – – slob continuum?

What are your thoughts on your mate’s use of his/her recreational time and energy?
Videogames, TV, Facebook, Watching Sports, Personal Hobbies, etc.


One Ring to Find Them…

What is UP with all the cheaters out there?  Look – it’s hard ENOUGH for a single girl to find a single guy who actually meets all of her standards (albeit – some of us have a LOT of standards…), but it just complicates things SO much more that a large number of men (and women) out there are presenting themselves as available when they’re, in fact, married.  Geez!  It’s exhausting enough searching for the perfect match without you interlopers getting in my way.

My best friend and I were out a few weekends ago – and at nice places, too – not some seedy bar – and encountered two such individuals.  The first was a married woman with children, in her late 30’s who chatted us up at the Tasting Room CityCentre.  She was well-dressed, sitting alone, ostensibly meeting a girlfriend… and then we watched her full-on come on to a handsome man at the bar between us.  I mean… come on, Chatty VonMarriedson…. I call foul!  You already have a guy – and now you’re encroaching on someone who could potentially be ours?  That’s just greedy.

Later on that night at Max’s Wine Dive, we were talking with a good-looking businessman who waited til after 20 minutes of flirty-talk/conversation to admit to being married.  What??  Dude, you just wasted valuable time I could’ve been using my patented (ok, fine – patent pending) flirting technique (smiling, making eye contact and being optimistic…what?) on someone else!

The biggest problem here (aside from the egregious disdain for vows and commitment) is that these people are double-dipping in the pool where I’m just trying to get IN!  It’s no fair.  There’s already a limited free-swim time, what with all the lifeguard breaks and such…a girl’s gotta be a friggin’ aqua-ninja to get a splash in.  Harrumph.  (you can’t see me, but you can be sure I’m crossing my arms petulantly and furrowing my brow in full-on annoyed little-kid fashion).

If finding love is like a scavenger hunt, then the wedding ring is the best (read: ONLY) clue.  If you don’t wear your ring, you throw off the whole delicate ecosystem of the manhunt.  And who wants to throw off a delicate system?  Haven’t you seen the Lion King?  The hyenas cannot run a decent pride with ANY kind of real leadership…it’s all laughing and being ugly and no one wins.

When I was at the airport in June, I counted – in the span of 15 minutes – SIX men who were married (mostly with children) who didn’t have their wedding rings on.  How did I discover this?  Well – as any good singularly-focused woman on the manhunt would do – as I approached the gate seating area, I surveyed the room carefully, like a seasoned sniper, and chose the most ruggedly handsome man not wearing a wedding band, to sit next to.  Sure enough – after making what I can only label as supremely charming conversation for a few minutes, his wife and kid came and sat down on the other side of him, heaving with Disney paraphernalia and dibs.  Ugh.  I suppose I should be happy for this family.  They have each other…precious…. gag.  I’m not anti-family at ALL – heck, I look forward to the day when I am part of one, once again.  Blended and all that.
But, when you muck with the system, get my hopes up, and then shove your bony wife and hopped-up-on Mickey-shaped-sugary-snacks kid in my face, I’m less than enthused at your familial bliss.

It’s false advertising is what it is.  When you don’t wear the sign of your commitment and love to another person, you’re essentially putting yourself in the shoe store window of love, and marking yourself “available.”  Cruel move, if you ask me.  Because when I inevitably come along and see you, and decide you may actually be worth trying on and possibly even buying, I find out that …no… ha ha ha – joke’s on me.  That shoe isn’t really up for grabs.  It was just there to tease me.

People -here is a simple set of rules to follow:
If you’re married and you’re happy – wear your ring.  (You can sing this to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it,” if that makes it easier to remember.  Mnemonics and all that).

If you’re married and you’re happy – wear your ring.
If you’re married and you’re unhappy – wear your ring.  And go to counseling.
If you’re married, but you’re ‘keeping your options open,’ you’re a loser.  Wear your ring and pray for mercy on your depraved soul.

Heck, there really should even be a ring for people who are seriously dating.  There would be different colors, to signify the varying levels of commitment.  You know, when you get to the point of not dating anyone else you get your beginner ring (Red.  You might as well go in rainbow order, right?); then when you take it to Facebook official you move up to orange.  Introducing her to the family?  That’s straight to green. The L word brings you to the blue/violet end of the spectrum and then…then…when you can finally toot in front of each other, it goes to silver or gold and you pop a diamond on that sucker.  Simple system.  I don’t know why we haven’t done this already.  What are we, primitives?

I don’t have a lot of tools in my arsenal to attract single guys.  I’m relying on my naked ring finger and my sparkling wit to send the message that I’m “on the market.”  Do me a favor and don’t flood said market with false opportunities or competition.  It’s just not right.


Let’s Get This Party Started…QUICKly!

Yes… Yes I did pull out 90’s rap lyrics for my two-part title.  That’s how I roll.  Apparently.

Ok – so – we’re going on dates now. (See part I of this post).

But, where to go?  What to do?  What to talk about?  
How to come across the best version of myself that I can?

Whoa, horsie – calm down!  I’m not a MIRACLE-worker, for cryin’ out loud!!

But I may have a few tips/tricks up my sleeve.  I can’t believe I’m sharing these for free…

Also – if you’re “shopping in my aisle,” I forbid you from using any of these suggestions.  
You know what I mean, right ladies?  When you’re at the clothing store and you see another woman encroaching dangerously close to the dresses you MAY be interested in – what do you do?  You give her a quick once-over to determine if she’s your size.  If she’s not, she’s not a threat and you can carry on as you were, at a relaxed clip.  
But if she’s a similar shape, then you’ve gotta broaden your stance, assert your alpha female-ness and box her out of your shopping zone.  Same goes for dating, doesn’t it?  I can bring certain friends with me when I go out, because we’re shopping for different kinds of shoes…I mean, men.  But, if I find a curvy, sassy brunette looking for a charismatic, funny, Jesus-lovin’ guy – we will NOT be wing-manning together.  Too dangerous.  So – like I said – if you’re shopping in the Sarah aisle…move along to another post.  These gems are soley intended for my NON-competition.

Where to go.

I can speak to this globally and I can even throw out some ideas for those of you in the Houston area. [see list at the bottom of the post]

Generally speaking, (and remember that I think the first meeting should be easy and quick), unless you’re meeting for lunch, I think you should avoid national chains.  Now, obviously, meeting for lunch at Panera or the Corner Bakery is fine.  But if you’re doing Happy Hour or drinks/apps – don’t hit up Chili’s.  (Unless, of course, you live in some podunk rural area where Chili’s is as impressive as it gets…if that’s the case, get the Southwest eggrolls, and surrender to the mediocrity.)  Choose a spot that has a good “vibe” – a healthy enough energy that you can’t hear the guys in the back washing dishes, but not so loud that you have to scream into each other’s ears to be heard.  Wine bars are great for this.  Restaurants that do Happy Hours are also optimal (and a note for the non-drinkers.  Why don’t you drink?  No, I’m kidding.  My last boyfriend was practically a tee-totaller.  I mean, it IS why I finally broke up with him – to be clear, but… he’s a great guy nonetheless.  If you don’t drink alcohol, Happy Hour spots are still a great idea – they usually have deals on appetizers and the Happy Hour ‘feel’ makes it not as high pressure as dinner.)

What to Wear.

I wear the same outfit on almost every first date.  I’ll just tell you – it’s a black knit short dress – strapless, but with a halter tie with wooden beads.  I wear it with black espadrilles – not super high, but a solid 3 inches of “help.”  It’s everything you want in a first-date outfit.  It’s sassy without looking like I’m trying too hard.  It’s an LBD, but because it’s knit, it’s casual enough for Happy Hours, It shows some skin, but not too much.   It’s a solid 8-outta-10.  It’s perfect.   AND – knowing it’s my go-to first date outfit makes it so easy – I don’t have to toil over what to wear.

A note to men – women toil.  We worry and obsess and toss-and-turn over what to wear.  We want to look attractive, but we don’t want to give off the desperate vibe that we’re trying too hard.  We will often consider, if not actually do it – buying a new dress/outfit for a date.  And we have to consider the activity too – if we’re playing pool or going bowling, we can’t wear a maxi dress.  If we may end up dancing, we have to have the appropriate footwear, if we think there will be any kind of snuggling/hugging/smooching, we can’t be all spanxed-out… it’s a lot to think about!  So – if you think a woman looks nice – tell her.  And we’ll tell you too.  🙂

Honestly – as long as you THINK about what you’re going to wear and you have a morsel of an “I care” attitude, you’re probably fine.  Probably best to stay away from your work coveralls, though… (yes – I actually went on a date with a guy who showed up in coveralls.  COVERALLS, people.  With the name of the company embroidered on the ‘shirt’ pocket and everything.)

What to order.

I usually commit to one drink and one snack.  It doesn’t cost a lot and it gives me something to DO.  Plus, sometimes this sparks interesting conversation about wines/beers/teas/food.  Now, the biggest problem of date-eating is this…there is almost NOTHING you can actually eat.  Not if you want to come across as sexy.  Let me unpack this.  
You can’t eat a salad because taking bites is cumbersome…pieces fall out, they don’t fit in your mouth in nice neat bites, so you’re rolling along in conversation, and there’s a spinach stem dangling out of your lips or a rogue heart of palm stuck on your cheek…it’s just not pretty.  
Then, you can’t eat anything with cooked spinach, broccoli or ANY herbs – because they’ll be caught in your teeth and without knowing it, you’ll smile at Mr. Wonderful only to look like you’re missing a tooth.  And unless you’re dating in Montgomery county, that’s frowned upon.  
You can’t order anything with onions or garlic.  Even if you know there won’t be a kiss, you don’t want to be breathing dragon-burp breath on him while you’re trying to make a good impression.
And lastly, you can’t drink red wine because it’ll turn your teeth an ashy-violet color that doesn’t exactly spell out “come hither.”

So, what’s left?  Not much!  Cheeses are safe (and delicious).

Then, there’s…well… just get the cheese.

What to talk about.

I would like to, once again, offer up some more of my printable communication materials for my readers here. 
Below is a handy list of suggested talking points you can bring with you and hand to your date.  Again – make this your own.   Feel free to print several of these – even laminate them.  Pick things that are so ridiculous that he or she can’t HELP but laugh and then you’ve got things started on a funny note.

talking_points (pdf for easy printing)

[aside…if you are offended by me including Joel in the camp of ridiculous topics, feel free to message me and we’ll go toe-to-toe in a fascinating theological sparring… trust me – it’ll increase your chances at living your best life now.]

Ok, but seriously – here are my three biggest suggestions on this front:

Ask questions, meta-communicate, and don’t set up taboo topics.

First – ask questions.  Not in that ‘I’m gonna pepper you with so much interrogation that you feel like you’re in a war-time P.O.W. situation,’ no – just in a ‘I’m interested in you’ way.  Now, the true test of a good date is if s/he reciprocates and asks YOU questions about yourself.  If they do, just answer them honestly!

Next – meta-communicate.  This is a fancy way of saying, talk ABOUT the talking.  Or talk above the talking.  I’m using the term loosely because literally it means to talk about the nuances of language, so I’m referring more to Meta-commentary, but let’s not get too academic here.  This method has worked really well for me in dating because it takes the conversation to a much more authentic place where both people can rest easy in the shared nervousness or unknown.  Both of you are trying to impress the other one while still being true to yourself.  You’re both excited and nervous.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to admit to the other person that you checked out your panty-line in the car window before walking in or tested your own breath while in the bathroom.  But, you CAN talk about the fact that first dates are tricky.  Talk about the fact that there’s almost nothing a woman can order to eat and still maintain some degree of poise.  Talk about the fact that online dating brings with it so much room for disingenuous information.  Talk about your own funny or horrific dating stories.

Lastly, if you’re being honest and appropriate for the level of connection happening, you can talk about just about anything.  I don’t think certain ‘hush hush’ topics necessarily need to be off-limits.  I think it’s OK to talk about your ex.  Now, obviously – be smart about this.  You’re not gonna blubber into your napkin and whine about how he never really appreciated what he had… But you CAN tell some of the basics of the story or share how difficult it was to get back out there.  Chances are your date has been in the same boat in some season and this is a point of connection.  We’re all human, right?

And for those of us who are divorced – I dare say this is a GOOD thing to talk about.  I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s really important to know WHY the other person is divorced.  Did he fight for his marriage?  What are her views on divorce?  How long ago was it and what was the healing process like?  How are the children doing?  These are all hugely significant to me to learn.

Another side note – a reader asked me to discuss how long to wait after a divorce before getting back out there.  And, my answer comes much more from my own personal reflection on this and less based on a therapeutic standpoint.  I think this all depends on the nature of the end of the marriage and your own personal grieving time.  Some people’s marriages ended with an abrupt quick death – e.g.  the husband came home one day to announce that he’s been having a long-term affair, he no longer loves his wife, and he’s leaving her.  3 months later they’re divorced.  That woman is nowhere NEAR ready to look for love again – the amount of healing and processing she’ll need is immense. On the other end of the spectrum is the marriage that had been in the relational ICU for so long that it finally died a long slow death.  Whatever besetting sins/addictions/issues plauged them had been happening for years, there had been extensive attempts to save the marriage, including therapy, leaning on the community of faith, etc., and then the divorce itself sat in legal red-tape for years.  In this case, so much of the necessary mourning had occurred as the couple struggled, that the time of healing may be less.  I hate saying it because it sounds so wimpy, but it really is different for every person.  Here’s what I DO suggest: 
1.  Surround yourself with wise counsel, and
2.  Don’t open your heart up to anyone new until the ghost of your former failed relationship no longer casts doubt on your true identity and will not haunt the halls of your potential new love story.

Alright – back to the land of first dates…

How to END the date

First – don’t say you’re going to have another if you’re not.  Be very careful with your words here.  You do NOT have to bring the death blow to this burgeoning friendship while still on the date, but you also shouldn’t inflame false hope.  If you know (and – of COURSE you know – if you’re being honest with yourself, you knew within the first 10 minutes) that you don’t want to see this person again, just say something like, “This was really fun, thank you.”  You can even say, “Talk to you later!” because you WILL have to talk (or text) to let him/her know that you don’t think you’d make a good match.
Note:  The more you date, the easier this will become.  People appreciate honesty.  No one wants a second date born out of pity.  So – if there’s not spark, say so and move on. 

Kiss or no kiss?  There is no rule here, folks!  Now…as many of you have deduced, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to sex, so I can unequivically say that you should NEVER have sex on the first date.  That’s not just me being all Christian-prude-y… that’s just good economics.  Only 6% of first dates that end in sex actually blossom into long-term relationships.  You know what happens to the other 94%?  SOMEone (usually the woman, but not always) gets hurt.  Like – really hurt.  Like – I gave my whole vulnerable self to someone and s/he thinks of me as disposable.  Crappy feeling.  MUCH worse than walking away sexually frustrated!  Embrace the cold shower and be valued.
But, the smooch?  Well – I say, if you’re feeling it – go for it.  Why not?  Kissing is fun and it’s also more information.  If you walk away from a first date that’s obviously gone well, wouldn’t it also be nice to know if s/he is a good kisser?  I’m just sayin’…

So – there you have it.  My thoughts on first dates.  Go on a lot.  Make ’em quick.  Be yourself – be honest.  Smooch but don’t give away all the goodies.  Rinse, repeat.

Some Houston suggestions for first date spots:  
All the restaurants in CityCentre:  The Tasting Room, Yard House (take a beer lover here!), Cyclone Anaya’s, Ruggles Green (great for non-drinkers), Flora & Muse (more of a coffeehouse feel), etc.;
Benjy’s (either in Rice Village or on Washington – one of my most FAVORITE places to go -( lots of good energy, delicious mojitos, $5 wines and $6 apps);
Cafe Brasil in Montrose;
The Boom Boom Room in the Heights (very charming and quiet), Boheme (a great hipster/chill feel);
the Arbys in Pasadena…just checking to see if you’re paying attention – ha ha!  
No, but seriously, that is a NICE Arbys;
the bar at Vic & Anthony’s downtown (dark lighting, comfy chairs…ahem…);
Absolve Wine Lounge – small, chill – good apps and wine;
Branch Water Tavern in Rice Military;
Max’s Wine Dive on Washington;
any of the cafes in Rice Village (Black Walnut, Mi Luna, etc.);
DownHouse in the Heights;
The Tasting Room in Uptown Park (more single professionals vibe) or on Alabama (more coffeehouse feel);
Vintropolis on the west side,
Winetopia near Memorial/Galleria;
Cedar Creek cafe in the Heights,
El Gran Malo (relaxed patio and yummy tacos) in the ‘dirty Heights’;
Fleming’s steakhouse (Happy Hour only);
the restaurants at West Ave in Upper Kirby: Cru, Ava, Pondicheri;
Anvil (fancy mixed drinks);
Sambuca (bar) downtown;
The Grove at Discovery Green;
OPorto Cafe near Greenway Plaza – fantastic apps and wine in a casual atmophere (basically a less-noisy Max’s);

I could go on and on, but now you’ve got some ideas.  And please leave comments with suggestions for other places…after all – I’m out there too!


Let’s Get This Party Started….Riiight!?

A couple of friends have asked me my advice on getting started (or…in their cases, restarted) in the online dating world.  So, I’ve decided (as part of my cyber charity work) to write a 2-part post on getting back in the game.  Apparently I’m a love doctor now?  I’m more than ok with that.  The Doctor is in.  The first post will be about creating a profile and communicating with potential matches, etc. and the next one will be tips and suggestions for actual dates (including, but not limited to: talking points, how to eat “sexy,” etc.)… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – first we have to GET the date(s).

(Cracks knuckles, clears throat, does some basic lunges…)

Ok – if you’re wanting to ease back into the scene, I suggest taking an evening to create the perfect profile.  Obviously I don’t think mine is perfect, but I DO think it represents me, and thusly – it constitutes “perfect.”  So, crack a bottle of wine, put on your comfiest PJs and enjoy painting a picture of who you are and what you want.  This is the fantasy portion of the process. Isn’t it fun?  We’ll get to the debilitatingly disappointing portion later…after all – I want to give you something to look FORWARD to.

First – which site to choose?  If you’re wanting to dip your toe in the online waters of love, I’d suggest a site that lets you do a fair amount of “shopping” – like Match.com.  I know I talk a big talk about Match being full of men trolling for sex (and I stand by that), but it also has a lot of men (and women) to choose from – and seems to have the highest percentage of “normal” on there (which…to be fair, is still a pretty small margin…but still.)

[Update – Coming back to this post months later and I would NOW suggest…if you’re just dipping your toe in the uncertain waters of online dating – to do OK Cupid.  It’s free, easy to use, and has a decent smattering of singles.  Trust me – go try it.  And answer lots of their questions too – it helps them match you up!]

A note about eHarmony.  Some of you who know that you can only be with someone who shares your faith may be thinking – “why use a ‘secular’ site and not eHarmony, where I’m ‘guaranteed’ to find a Christian?”  eHarmony may be great for you LATER, but it doesn’t allow you to hunt/shop with the same ease and anonymity that Match does.  eHarmony does the work for you and at their own pacing…so you’re kinda held hostage to their methods, whereas Match allows you to navigate your own search in your own timing and style.  Just my thoughts…

First things first – do NOT start by putting a photo up and then writing your profile.  They’ll approve your photo and then, within moments, the smarmiest of men will start descending on you like a pack of rabid hyenas, based on nothing but physical attraction.  Those are not the animals…er…”men” you want.  Begin with the words and add the pictures last.

Some tips for writing your profile (and to be fair, many of these suggestions have come from comments made by some of my guy friends including John and Kevin…you know who you are):

– Don’t SAY that you’re smart or funny – just BE smart and funny.  Anyone can say that they’re witty or clever, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  And, as a woman, when I see something clever on a guy’s profile, it grabs my attention so much more than someone claiming a rapier wit, but never demonstrating it.

This begins with your tagline.  This is what will show up when people see your profile in a list – so don’t put something generic like “single mom looking for a nice guy”… snore…no, seriously – I just took a nap.
Put a funny line from a movie that you’ve tweaked, or a random fact about yourself, or even just plain ‘ol goofiness.

– Don’t put a list of things you DON’T want in a potential partner.  It’s fine that you HAVE this list – of course – we all do!  But, it’s off-putting – moreso to men than women, I’ve found.  They are particularly sensitive to negative energy and I think their ears perk up to the motherly tone found in that “If you…… then we won’t work out” kind of language.  So, be positive about who you are and what you want.

– There’s no need to list the same junk EVERY person has on there – all that does, is basically say, “move along to the next profile, because I’m boring.”  You don’t need to write on there that you are looking for friendship that turns into a relationship – anyone worth their salt is looking for that.  You don’t need to write that you’re looking for someone friendly, nice, honest, etc. – everyone is!  You don’t need to spell out the fact that physical chemistry is important…der…  No, instead, spend MORE time writing about what sets you apart.  Talk about your life – are you an extravert?  What are your hobbies and interests?  Are you a word nerd?  Into politics?  Artistic?  Musical?  What are some interesting random facts about you that, while not important in the grand scheme of things, are endearing to read?

– If you’re a parent, don’t put a line in there about how your kid is the most important thing in your life and that no one will ever take priority over him/her/them.  This may very well be true (and I’m really resisting opening up a hearty debate about the roles and priorities partners/children eventually play in a monogamous and committed relationship…resisting…but it’s hard!) – but when you say it this way, not only does it read negatively, but it gives off the vibe that your heart is closed-off for anyone else.  What guy/girl wants to initiate conversation if s/he thinks they’ll only ever make it to second place in your heart/life?  All of us parents know that we’re not going to neglect our children for our dating life – we wouldn’t be good parents then.  So – you don’t need to specifically state this.

– In the more directly pointed questions about musical interests, movies, books, faith, etc. – DO put as much information as you can here – partly because it’s your chance to show your personality, but also because any little thing you write could be the “hook” a guy uses to spark up a conversation with you.  Think about it – if you write something generic, like “I love music,” there’s not much there for someone to follow-up with, but if you mention that you have an unhealthy obsession with Jimi Hendrix, then a guy can write to you and say, “you love Hendrix, eh?  What’s your favorite album?”  and you’re off to the races.

– Don’t lie.  You might think this is obvious, but when you start writing…you may be tempted to “embellish” the truth (ahem…lie.)  Resist.  This will invariably come back to bite you in the more-ample-than-you-represented-hiney later on.  Don’t say that you’re taller than you really are (*coughs* – MEN…); don’t say that you’re skinnier than you are; don’t say that you love (fill-in-the-blank – animals, sports, etc.) if you don’t; don’t say you’re younger than you are; don’t purposely leave out the fact that you are a parent; don’t say you’re “never married” if you’re actually divorced – that MATTERS; don’t fudge your income or embellish your job description; and any other arena where you’re tempted to tweak the reality of things… resist.  The purpose of this is to find someone who will know you and love you for who you are, so – how about this novel idea – BE who you are from the get-go!

– Ok – let’s talk profile pictures.

DO have at least one close-up shot of your face where you can actually see what you look like.  No sunglasses, no face in the shadow… just YOU.

DO have at least one full-body shot that is recent and accurate.  A guy would much rather see a curvy woman who owns it, than see a photo of you from your “Spring-Fling” in 1992…all pre-baby and Spanxed-out.

DON’T crop your girlfriends out of photos.  Men like to see that you have a vibrant social life and pretty friends!

DON’T have a photo of you with a guy who could be misconstrued as competition (boyfriend, unlabeled brother, etc.).  Conversely, don’t have a picture of you with someone prettier than you!  Come on…this is just good common sense.

DON’T have more than one photo of you with your kid(s).  Your profile will say if/that you have children, but you don’t want to display this too much as it is a little intimidating right outta the shoot.  If the guy falls in love with you, he’ll fall in love with your children.  But we don’t need to throw that in his face from the beginning.

DO have multiple shots of you so he can see different facial expressions and settings.

DON’T have shots of you with your iPhone/Android in the picture.  Extra points deducted for duck face.

DO have a pic of you being goofy.  People like to find other people with a sense of humor and playfulness.

DON’T have a photo where the whole point is to show off your fabulous cleavage, or – for men – the shirtless pic.  If you have a great photo from the beach or lake, that’s fine, but don’t adjust your clothing “just right” to show off your ‘assets’ and then snap photos of you with your ‘Blue Steel’ face and upload them.

– Proofread

Once you’ve completed everything – go back and reread it.  If you’re going to be picky (which I think you should), then you can’t very well have a profile riddled with grammatical errors.  Check those yours and you’res, make sure every I’m has an apostrophe, for you men – make sure it doesn’t say, “I’m looking for a women who…”  – that kind of thing.  Spell check, have a friend read it – whatever it takes to make it correct.  This will allow for the greatest level of superiority and entitlement when shopping later.  🙂

– Commit to the membership/subscription.  Don’t do the whole free deal-y-o… where you can only see certain parts and can only “wink” or “flirt” or whatever your site’s version of lame-sauce is.  Be all in.  And only communicate with others who are all-in.  After all – if they’re not willing to shell out the $30 to find a soulmate…that’s a whole other kind of information.

– Communication.

OK – so your profile is up and running and all sorts-a-fabulous.  Now, you have two things to do:

1.  Read the messages that come in and respond to those worthy of a response.  Now, listen – every person is different about who they will and won’t reply to.  For me – if the photo looks like I could be remotely attracted to the person, and the profile is decently written and has even in a modicum of interest to it, and if the guy lists his faith as “Christian/Protestant,” or “Christian/Other,” I’ll reply.  I figure everything else is subject to further investigation/interpretation.  Now, I’m much more likely to give a longer more thoughtful and witty response to someone who’s profile is especially intriguing or unique, but I don’t require 10-outta-10 charming to send a Match.com e-mail.

On the other side of things – you have ZERO obligation to reply to all the messages that come in.  For those guys who don’t interest you, you have three options:
1 – write them back and just say honestly that you don’t think you’d make a good match, but best of luck;
2 – use the Match.com “no thanks” link, which sends this cute little note,
“TexasGuy1976 doesn’t know a good thing when he sees it….. etc. etc…. rejection with a condescending throw-away message about finding love in other places…blah blah blah”
…I mean… I’ve HEARD that’s how they go…(shifts nervously)…I’ve certainly never GOTTEN one of these messages…
(read: I’ve gotten plenty of them.);
3 – Do nothing.  It is OK to ignore messages.  Men will ignore you too.  Them’s just the shakes.

2.  Go hunting!  This is the fun part.  Go to the Search option and put in all your parameters.  Be as picky and snobby and racist and age-ist as you want to in this part of the game…your ‘I-only-want-to-date-men-who-speak-Tagalog’ secret is safe with Match.  Use the “Advanced Search” option so you can put in items under education, faith, etc. and then start reading!

Check it out, ladies – you will have an advantage if you’re assertive and send messages to the guys who pique your interest.  Because, if you read my last post you’ll remember, men message women MUCH more than the other way around.  Men don’t get that much attention in this way, so if you put yourself on his radar, you’re already miles ahead in the race against the other ladies out there.  And don’t just click the “wink” button – have the bollocks to send an actual message.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Just find something in his profile that caught your eye and say so.  It could be something like this:

You had me at Texas Country.  I could listen to Chris Knight the rest of my life and be a happy girl.  🙂
Your profile was refreshing to read – you seem like an authentic and intelligent guy.  I’d love to chat more…check out my profile and let me know what you think!  Cheers.  – Sarah- “

Note:  you may want to change the name.

That’s not hard, is it?  Obviously – make this your own.  Be more flirty, be more succinct, include an open-ended question, whatever matches your personality.  And hopefully – watch the responses roll in!?

– Take it to the next level.

Rewrr…. that sounded saucy…

No, I just mean – once you have a dialogue going on Match.com’s e-mail system, I think (and this is purely my opinion, but it IS based on interactions with lots of men in this world) it’s best to quickly take it to the phone – either text or talking, pick your poison.  I’m a texter, but that’s just me.  And I’m also quick to propose meeting up.

I want to take a moment to talk about my philosophy about dating – and how it affects the MANNER in which I date – and why I move quickly to the meet-n-greet.

Let’s return to the shoe shopping metaphor.  I am in a season of searching for the perfect shoe.  I’m trying on lots of pairs, but I’m eliminating quickly the ones that I know aren’t the right fit.  That’s the key – eliminating quickly.  I’d much rather go on lots of quick dates (coffee/drinks/lunch/etc.) and assess if there’s sufficient interest/potential connection to warrant a full-on date-date.  Think back to the shoes (sorry, men… feel free to insert your own tool metaphor in lieu of footwear.  Unless you’re all in-touch-with-your-metro-chic-ness and can hang with this).
There are the ones that are SO pretty… but they’re way too expensive (for those of you who can’t crack the code – I mean to say that the guy is dreamy and makes you feel good, but it comes at an unfortunate cost…(critical, short-temper, etc.).  There are those that seem like they’ll go PERFECTLY with your outfit, but they’re prohibitively uncomfortable (we’ve all bought these shoes, haven’t we?  And halfway through the next day we’re cursing our earlier impulsive selves that strapped our feet into tiny torture chambers of pain.  Do I need to spell out the metaphorical corollary?)  Then there are the shoes that are sensible.  They feel good – you know they’ll last.  They’ll walk you faithfully through Disney or your trip to the Burgundian countryside… but darn it they just have no razzle dazzle.  I’d like to say – unequivically – that I am DONE buying those shoes as well.

No, I want THE PERFECT pair.  Gorgeous, versatile, comfortable and make other women insanely jealous.  Ok, ok… perhaps I’ve pushed the metaphor a bit past its prime…

And I haven’t yet grown so cynical about love that I think this is an impossible dream.  I DO know there isn’t a perfect pair of shoes out there – I have a healthy grasp on the flawed (dare I say it, ..sinful) state of man, but I DO believe there’s a perfect pair out there FOR ME.  And that means two things as far as the shopping and ‘trying on’ phase:

1.  I’m going to try on lots of pairs (don’t go gettin’ all naughty on me here… I just mean interacting with a fair number of men).  And I’m probably going to have a lot of first-dates-only because I know pretty quickly when the pair isn’t a good fit.

2.  When I find a pair I like – I’m going to use all the tools in my arsenal to wear them, enjoy them and decide if they’re worth buying.

I guess what I’m saying is – take the online interactions quickly into the land of the living – where people have no choice but to be their real selves.  Don’t WASTE your TIME sending e-mails back and forth or texting for weeks – the most accurate representation of a person – is the person.  In person.

So – don’t be afraid to just say – “Let’s meet up for a drink!”  or “I’d really love to meet you – wanna grab coffee later this week?”  It’s innocuous enough.  Contrary to what that nagging fear in the insecure part of your brain says, “Let’s do drinks” does not, in fact,  mean, “I want to have your baby.”  So – go for it.  Enjoy the drinks/lunch/coffee and take it from there.

…to be continued.


I’ll Send an SOS to the World

I’ve heard it said that women have it ‘easier’ in the world of online dating – because all they have to do is post a remotely pretty photo and men will come flocking.

Studies show (and yes, I actually have documentation to back this up – I’m not “that girl” who just throws out the “studies show” or “they say” or “experts agree” unless I have sufficient back-up) that women get flirted with or messaged at an extremely higher rate than the other way around.  Men send the messages while women just sit back and let the love roll in.

Well……… sorta.

I agree that men have to do more “work” than women on the FRONT end.  But I’m here to tell you what things look like on the other side.  Yes, men have to be virtually gods to get some online attention.  I have a guy friend who’s handsome, insanely witty, and whose profile is that perfect mix of clever/unique and also shows that he can be a warm, romantic partner..and he almost never gets messages or “winks”…it’s crazy.  And then I sit down to my computer and have at LEAST 50 messages a day on any given site I’m on.  Here are the numbers for today…just to give you a picture:

Sounds great (for me), right?  Well…let’s not get cray cray…allow me to dig a little deeper.

You know when your fill-in-the-blank-female-family-member makes you a “beautiful” needle-point work of art – if you look at the backside, it’s all KINDS of a mess?  That’s what it’s like to be a woman trudging through online dating sites.  It might seem so easy – just put up a photo and wait for the masses to come knocking on your proverbial door, but oh-ho-ho…. let’s take a look at who it is who’s coming a-knocking.

There are a few archetypes of messages I receive from men.  For easy math, let’s assume I receive 100 messages a day.  It’s possible, but not a sure bet that ONE of those will be remotely interesting/complimentary/clever enough to spark my interest.  The other 99 are one of the following:

1.  Flat out boring.  These are the ones that make you want to reclaim that 1/2 second you lost by clicking on the message to begin with.  They say things like:

“Hello.”
“Hey girl.”
“Hi cutie.”
“What’s up”
“Sup””

And that’s being kind – because I’ve spelled everything correctly and used punctuation appropriately…

And now I’m asleep.

2.  Full of cheesy come-on lines.
What’s that you say?  You want some examples?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.

If I were to be present in heaven… as in…dead?
And – “common many angels?”… I mean… comMON man!

___________________________________________

It appears I’m popular among the angelic crowd.

3.  Don’t take the hint, resulting in flooding your inbox with multiple unwanted communications.

Dude…if I didn’t write you back 11 days ago, or 9 days ago, or anything between then and now…it’s time to walk away.

(and if you’re reading this thinking that it’s cruel to not write back to all of these guys, let he who hath not 100’s of inane messages cast the first critical online dating stone.)

4.  Stupid.  Stupidity comes in various forms.  It ranges from the grammatical/spelling mistakes to the idiotic or non-sequitur thoughts that end up making me roll my eyes (at the very least), insulting me (see below), or cause me to shake my head in despair at humanity’s descent into moronitude (go with it).

I don’t even know what he MEANT to say.  But – doesn’t matter.  He had me at “ho.”

___________________________________________

For the last time – I am only ONE woman.  Do you know how emotionally taxing it is to take on the responsibilities of beautyful women everywhere?

___________________________________________

Luckily between the last blog post and now, I found an app for my iPhone that translates stupid.  So – what I THINK he means is:

“The basics in your profile nominally interest me enough to write this lazy and flawed message to ‘say hi’.”

Swoon…

___________________________________________

You would imagine I have a personality?  Yes.  I have one.  I should totes shoot you me number.

___________________________________________

Proofread, honey.  I’m a woman, last I checked.

___________________________________________

So – while men may have to do a little more leg-work on the front end of the game, we women (well – the beautiful, charismatic and ridiculously witty ones like myself) have to sift through a LOT of trash in search of eventual treasure.

The sheer herculean task of dumpster diving through the well of vapidity should earn me SOMEthing…right?

Culling through these messages (and yes – I read every one.  After all – once in a while you’ll find a gem.  Right?  (Say right.)  And if I were to miss that ONE amazing guy because of the 99 other cholos blowin’ up my inbox – what a travesty THAT would be!) is practically like having another part-time job.  Not only does it take up time, but it exhausts my mental faculties.  I should really get paid for this.  I’m providing a service, if you think about it.  When guys don’t get messages back, I’m CERTAIN they take a good long look at their approach and reflect on why it didn’t work and learn from it – I’m basically an online dating philanthropist.  I mean, I don’t want to be painted with a “hero” brush, but…
I’m KINDA a hero.

But I’m also a relational baller on a budget, so – anyone who wants to pony up and help a sista out… I’ll be opening a PayPal account for these and other sassy services I provide.  There will be varying levels of sponsorship – you can subsidize my online dating sites’ subscription fees – think of it as a comedic investment.  You’d be like my platinum-level gigolo.  You throw down the cizzash, and I’ll bring in the laughs.  And why stop there?  Now that this is a full-on Business, not only memberships/subscriptions, but date costs become company write-offs.  This could really work out for me.  If my date pays, and I keep the receipts for a tax deduction, I’ll actually come out ahead.  Financially, that is.  Morally, it’s likely a step back.
But, I’m ok with that.  All’s fair in love and laughter, right?

So – step up, lovers of love – and help better the world one unrequited message at a time.  And remember what we’ve learned today – women don’t have it easier at all.  I dare say our ‘job’ is the harder of the two.   It’s a difficult life being an amazing woman.  But someone’s gotta do it, so…I’ll man up.

(I’d like to thank my friend Sean for helping me come up with this devious shady masterful plan.)


Smooching and Fine Wine

Two of my most favorite things.  Let’s just jump right in.

I love to kiss.

Yup.  And this shouldn’t shock anyone who knows me.  Heck, even my pastor dad who may read this is probably nodding his head in resignation…’yup…that’s Sarah.’

I’ve always been affectionate and expressive…the essential pairing for an expert smoocher.

Kissing is like finding the perfect wine.  Nobody heading into a fantastic dinner party just HOPES they’ll be serving Franzia’s finest or the bargain bin Sutter Home Chardonnay.  And no one who leans in extra close on a date just HOPES they’ll get a half-decent smooch.  No – we ALL want the deliciously smooth, but exciting bold flavors of that perfect French red.  The one that, when you take a sip of it just after a bite of amazing food, makes your mouth explode with flavor and sing with celebration.  That’s the kiss I want, at least.

And luckily, there are lots of varieties of fine wines and fine kissers.  It doesn’t always have to be a bossy red, it can be a delightfully crisp New World white – sweet and flirty, but with depth nonetheless.  Or that kicky Argentinian Carmenere.  Or… or… the list goes on.  But, boy…there’s a lot of bad wine out there too.  There’s the white wine that comes in those peculiarly cumbersome glass jars at the Olive Garden, where – when you ask them what varietal of grape was used, they look blankly at you and say, “Um….white.”  There’s the ones on the bottom shelf at Kroger with the “you always save” $5.99 sign combined with that not-quite-right color… the ones you wouldn’t even use for cooking.  Or the one your friend picked out because it had the “cutest” label, but she has no idea how it tastes and you crack it only to find that it’s glorified vinegar you have to now choke down with a “bless your heart” smile.  Ick.

And kissers are just about the same.  A good kisser “costs” more.  Now, don’t go there.  I’m not talking a literal cost.  My dating hasn’t gotten desperate enough to warrant soliciting tricks.  I just mean – there’s often a greater relational  investment required – one that I’m happy to ‘pay’ – to get the good “wine.”  And, oh…the good wine is SO GOOD.

What makes a kiss good or bad?  I’m so glad you asked.  Becuase, as you may be picking up on by now – I have an opinion or two and I’m not shy about sharing.  So, here goes.

A GOOD kiss is…

– Passionate.  It comes from a place of real desire.  You know that moment when you’re looking at someone and your thoughts get all jumbled up and confused because your mind has been overtaken with the desire to just grab his face and plant one on ‘im?
And you might be thinking, “well – DUH, passion is an obvious component to a decent kiss,” but I contend that the best kind of passion isn’t the episodic or momentary “I feel horny” impulse.  The best kind is the passion that lives in you and is part of the core of who you are.  Maybe this is why I’m drawn to men who are obviously creative, charismatic, passionate people.  Musicians, artists, writers, even comedians – men who have that “fire in the belly” as an old friend used to say.  It’s always in there because it’s a part of their personality.  So, when it comes time for locking lips – they’ve got a natural fuel that drives it to be amazing.

– Intentional.  A good kiss comes from a thoughtful place.  He’s thinking about what will make it good for you.  He’s thinking about how his hands on your face will make you swoon even more, or about pulling you close with that perfect amount of strength – enough to say “I’m big and strong and can protect you” but not so much that it gives off the creeper vibe, or tugging your hair or….
(takes a deep cleansing breath…focus, woman… FOCUS!!)

– Appropriately paced.  We’ve all kissed “that guy.”  The one who, the very moment there’s lip-to-lip contact, starts contemplating which inappropriate “the bathing suit covers it” part he’s gonna go for.  You think you’re simply enjoying the kiss and he’s reaching for the goodies.  Come on, dude.  Hasn’t some wise person in your life explained the whole “women are convection ovens” bit to you?  We need a while to preheat… don’t go all ‘microwavey’ on us…it’s SO off-putting.  Plus, I’ve heard those waves can cause cancer, so…

– Improving with every new “installment.”  When you find someone with whom you connect – on that sensual level – every kiss is better than the last.  Why?  Because you’re learning each other – your styles, your likes/dislikes, and aiming to be better than the time before.  You’re also growing more comfortable so that you can be free to relax and do your best work.  It’s an art, really – and I, for one, am aiming to perfect my craft.  Finding that rhythm of passion that makes a so-so kiss an amazing kiss – is like gold.

Now…let’s talk about the bad kiss.
Let me be the first to say, if I sample a mid-level Sonoma Valley Cab Sav and I’m underwhelmed,  I won’t just toss it out. I’m not a MONSTER!   I’m open to letting it breathe a bit, maybe pairing it with a different food…and seeing if it grows on me.  If the wine is willing to evolve… I can be patient.  BUT – a full-on BAD wine has got to go.  As in – down the drain.
(I realize that sorta sounds like I want to have the bad kissers of the world rubbed out… which I don’t.  I just don’t want to kiss them.  Capisce?  (Mob humor is never not funny))

I had an experience a few months ago with a guy who was handsome, smart, funny, had a great career and was a charming conversationalist.  On our second date – he kissed me.  And it was our last date.  The kiss was so abysmal (and not in the Joey Tribiani sort of “abysmal”) that it was a non-negotiable deal-breaker.  (I haven’t written about this until now because I wanted to be sure he wasn’t reading my blog…yikes!)  The problem, (among other things…things I can’t verbalize in this public forum, for fear of mortification.  Things that still make me want to rock in a corner with my special lovee…), was laziness.  He was SUCH a lazy kisser.  I almost thought it was a joke at first.  He leaned in, closed his eyes and pretty much just shoved his face into mine until our lips smooshed together.  There was no movement.  No nuance.  No tenderness OR fire.  His hands stayed down by his side.  It was like an awkward movie scene of some gawky 13-year old boy nervously kissing a girl he’s crushing on at band camp and having no idea what to do.  It was the dullest moment.  I might have fallen asleep from the sheer unimaginativenesss of it all were it not for the steady assault on my face.

But I’m an artist.  So, I dared not give up so quickly.  I soldiered on.  I thought – maybe if I demonstrate what I like, he’ll mirror it.  So, I put my hand behind his neck and gave him some of my best moves.
MY BEST MOVES!
I wasted my prime smooching material on lazy-guy.  And what did I get in return?  Nada.  More of his lips just pressed against mine – occasionally backing away and then coming in again for a landing.  My grandmother kisses with more passion!  Sure, she peppers your cheeks with an uncomfortably high number of pecks while gushing, “Oh, it’s just been TOO long!”  But still.

And the worst part about it all was …how was I supposed to explain to him why we weren’t going to meet up again?  I had to tell him something.  I have a rule of thumb that I’m ok using the old “fade-out” method on guys I haven’t met.  But if we’ve been out together, I owe you a text to say I don’t think we’d make a good match.  And you just KNOW that lazy kisser was going to be the guy to text back, “why?”
Yeesh!  What does one say?
Here’s what I texted him:  (Closing my eyes tightly and crossing my fingers that he’s not reading this right now and fantasizing various ways to kill me) “I just think we have different smooching styles.”  That’s pretty good, right?

I’ll spare you the conversation that ensued, but after a brief consideration of letting him pay me for kissing lessons, and then another brief consideration of how that’s basically being a lip prostitute, I gracefully bowed out.

So – yes.  Good kissing is amazing.  Bad kissing is horrible.  And, as much as it sounds shallow, it’s a make-it-or-break-it issue for me.  Obviously not the ONLY one, but an important one.  I MAY or may not even have a ranking system for the guys I’ve had the pleasure (or horror) of kissing… but let’s save that for another time.

Meanwhile – I’m going wine shopping…