Archive for October, 2012

She has the NEED… the Need for Speed

You know the moral of that old classic fable, Tortoise and the Hare – “Quick and dirty wins the race?”

Wait, what…. that’s not it?  Really?  I coulda sworn that was it.

Well – anyhoo – speed may not win every time, but I haven’t yet given up on the concept of speed dating.
Sure, it didn’t really work out so well for me on the first go around…
(if you don’t remember or are just joining us – you can read all about it here.)
But, I still think the idea has merit.

I mean… I can tell in the first few minutes with a guy if further studies are needed or if I’d rather be at home knee-deep  in my spanx-free, yoga pants sportin’, popcorn-filled trash-TV night.  So, a whole evening of 5 minute tests …er…I mean, assessments?  Sounds about right.  Time is precious, baby.

And, to that end, I’ll be dragging my friend Jenny to another s.d. event in the coming weeks, which I’m SURE will not disappoint.  After all… the worse it is, the more entertaining reading material it will provide.  You really can’t go wrong.

But until that day, I thought I’d share a post my friend Lincee Ray* wrote on the subject.

She blogs about everything from world travels to the single life to the ever-pressing Bachelor recaps that keep her bajillion readers enraptured in reality-TV bliss.

And she shares an integral and life-giving character trait with me-  un-filtered snarkiness.  How can you resist NOW?
Read it here!


* When people ask Lincee Ray what she does for a living, she tells them that she sings the praises of oilfield rigs and subsea trees for a living. The majority of her job consists of writing nine company newsletters, which can take her to exotic destinations like Williston, North Dakota.  She has been recapping The Bachelor franchise for 10 years on her personal blog, www.iHateGreenBeans.com.  As a child, she taught herself to say the ABCs backwards.  It kills at parties.  She doesn’t eat meat off the bone.  She’s both an approval and Dr Pepper addict. She’s a little too enthusiastic about her DVR, iPod, Ryan Gosling and teeny bopper shows on the CW.  You can also follow her on Twitter at @Lincee.

Breaking All the Rauls

With all this talk of breaking things off, I thought I’d tell you a related story from my own dating life.

I have permission to share the story, but on the condition that I refer to this man as “Rahul.”  Or is it “Raul?”  Hmm… let’s just see what rolls off my fingertips as I type.

Let me paint the background picture for you, so you’ll understand my later angst.

Raul and I met on an online dating site, and quickly exchanged numbers.  After a lovely phone conversation, we agreed to meet for drinks.  There was flirty banter back and forth before we met (a whole string of texts about what to wear when we met.  He told me he’d be the guy at the bar in a Panda suit.  But, later, was bummed that the dry cleaner wasn’t done with said suit…all very cute.)  Then when we finally did come face to face, it was a great first meeting.  He was a total gentelman, easy to talk to, obviously smart, laughed at my jokes and was happy to pay for the drinks and appetizers (always a good sign on a first date, at least in my book).

About 35 minutes in, he said very candidly and sweetly, “oh, and… I’d love to go out with you again.”  I loved it!  FINALLY, a guy who isn’t playing games… just speaking his mind about what he likes/wants.

Great.  Finished up the quickie first date and went our separate ways.

Second date:  He called a few days ahead of time (planning! woo!) and asked me to a nice restaurant that just opened up in Houston.  We had a great meal, laughed a lot, whenever he noticed my wine was low, he’d refill my glass.  He was a gentleman.  At the end of the night, he gave me a sweet short kiss when he walked me to my car.  Perfect.

3rd date:  Again, a few days ahead, he asked if I would feel comfortable coming over so he could cook me a meal (we’d already established a shared love of food).  I happily agreed and when I got there, he had prepared the most amazing feast, even made me a delicious cocktail beforehand.  He then came out with me and some friends to a wine bar, then salsa dancing (well – I did more of the dancing, he did more of the purse-watching, but still…tomato, tomahto), and the night ended with him making me a melt-in-your-mouth prosecco-poached peach tartin with homemade lemon ice cream.  YUM.  Ok, fine, we may have smooched for a while after that.  Also yum.

Things continued like this for the next couple weeks – lovely dates (coffeeshops, walking in the Heights, dinners, even a relaxing pizza/movies/PJs night at my place, etc.), him being sweet, fun to be with and generous (after my computer bag was stolen on my birthday, and he remembered that I’d lost a bottle of my favorite perfume in it, he brought me a Chanel giftbag with a new bottle of perfume…how incredibly thoughtful is THAT?  (and good TASTE, too)), and me genuinely enjoying his company.  But, for me, there was a piece missing.  The more we spent time together, the more I was truly baffled because in so many ways, he seemed perfect, but there was just something that wasn’t fitting for me.

Now, normally it doesn’t take me this many dates to know whether something is going to be a good match or not – which is why this situation with Raul is particularly intriguing.  I think it’s, in part, because we were just becoming good friends, which was so nice, I wasn’t forcing myself to face the inner voice saying, “he’s not ‘the one,’ Sarah.”

But, finally, I realized I couldn’t keep going like this and I needed to let him know.  But, HOW do you tell the sweetest guy you know, …
…a guy who spent the better part of an afternoon braising short ribs and picking basil for the mashed potatoes from his own garden (yes, you read correctly…he grows herbs in his cool Rice Military townhouse yard)…
…a guy who braved the Galleria ON A WEEKEND to buy you new Chanel perfume…
that it’s not gonna be a good match?

I knew we needed to talk, so when the next kid-free night came along, I let him know I was free.  He asked if he could take me to a nice seafood restaurant in MidTown.

GREAT!  I’m going to be telling this guy we’re a no-go and he’s going to be buying me a delicious crab-topped red snapper?  Ugh… stomach starting to knot up.

I knew what I needed to do.  I needed to talk with him BEFORE (in lieu of) going to a nice meal together.  I knew it wasn’t fair to his time/money to agree to a meal of that caliber (now, it would’ve been a whole other thing if he’d just offered to treat me to Taco Cabana…), knowing that I was going to give him the “we’re not a good match” speech.

But, we’d been out enough, and established enough of a friendship that I couldn’t just text him.  I knew I had to talk to him on the phone.  Stomach hurting…

I knew it, but I didn’t WANNA!  Who does?  Stomach tightening up even more…

So, I did what any self-respecting emotionally intelligent, MA in counseling carrying woman would do.
I called my guy friend (Tyler).
I wanted him to say something that would get me off the hook (I don’t know what!?  But he’s a think-outside-the-box sorta fellow…I figured he’d have SOMEthing up his sleeve).  Nope.  He said exactly what I already knew… talk to him before dinner.  When I told him I was weak…and didn’t want to hurt Raul’s feelings, he told me to “grow a pair.”

So, I did what any self-respecting, was-hoping-to-hear-different-advice-from-Tyler woman would do.
I called ANOTHER guy friend (Doug).
I wanted HIM to say something that would get me off my own (and now Tyler’s) hook.  But, you know what he said?  “Grow a pair.”  Geez!  What are these two, in some anti-Sarah club?
Double Harrumph.


The next two hours was me filled with me anxiously waiting for Raul’s call (to confirm dinner plans), where I would crush his spirit and deal with the disappointed fallout that would inevitably ensue.

Stomach now in full ulcer mode.

I even did that thing that adorable female protagonists do in movies, where you practice all the various ways you could say it, out loud.  There may have even been pacing involved.

“Raul, you’re such a sweet guy and…”   NO….
“Raul, I’ve just given this a lot of thought and… I really do want to be friends, but…”  NO…
“Raul,… wanna make out?”   NO!

Finally, he called.  I took a big breath, my stomach, at this point, is now in a full constrictor knot.

Here’s the convo:

Raul:  Hey!  We still on for Reef at 7:00?
Me:  Um… well, I was hoping we could talk for a couple minutes.  Are you driving home?
Raul:  No, I just stepped out of a work Happy Hour for a minute to call you.  What’s up?
Me:  (sweat dripping down the back of my neck…he’s not even really alone?  Crap…)  Well, can you call me when you have a couple of minutes to talk?
Raul:  Is something wrong?  Is it bad?
Me:  Well…. I just…. I wanted to talk with you about something before we go eat.
Raul:  Can you just give me the reader’s digest version?  (Great…)
Me:  (deep yoga quality breath)  Well, ok.  Raul, I’ve just been thinking a lot about you and me, and about whether we’re a good romantic match or not, and I …
Raul:  We’re not!
[record scratches]
Me:  Uh…what?
Raul:  (laughing)  We’re not a good match!  I was going to talk to you about it tonight!

What???  All this time, and all the years taken off my gastrointestinal life… for nothing?
He felt the SAME?  Good grief, what are the odds?

Raul:  Do you mind telling me what it was for you that didn’t work?
Me:  Well, …(started to tell him one of the issues…and then he kindly interrupted)
Raul:  Actually… this is really good feedback for me, and I think we both agree that we like each other and are friends, so…what do you say we go ahead and go to dinner and talk about it there?
Me:  OK!

Cut to an hour later at the restaurant.  We ended up having a great meal and discussion.  I had way too much fun with our server – “Can you give us a minute?  We’re trying to break UP here!!” or when she asked, “is there anything I can bring you two,” I replied, “yeah, an eligible bachelor and bachelorette!”  There was some serious frivolity happening…

Raul ended up telling me the BEST possible reason why a guy wouldn’t want to date me.  Why was it the best?  Because it truly wasn’t about me.  It’s one of the only times someone could say “It’s not you, it’s me,” which works out perfectly for my ego, since I think I’m practically perfect.  Oh wait… that’s Mary Poppins.  But, still.

He said that when he was at my house and saw my daughter’s shoes lined up in her room (my kids weren’t there, I was just showing him around, lest you all start judging me for introducing him to the kiddos too early…. settle down), it clicked for him that he wanted that.  But from the teeny tiny shoes on up.  He wants to START a family, not come in as an add-on to an existing one.  And he hadn’t realized before then just how strong that desire was.  He then went on to say all sorts of kind and complimentary things about me that he DID like (is there any more appropriate way to end things with someone?  I think not.)
We agreed that we are definitely going to continue the friendship, enjoy meals together, meet up for coffee/walks/concerts/etc., he’s gonna hang out with my singles crew, and we’ve even talked about co-hosting a wine tasting party.  It does NOT get better than this.

So  – there you have it.
Great guy.
Great breakup (minus my ulcer).
Great story to tell.

Breakin’ Up is Hard to Deux

So…HOW exactly do you break things off with someone when you’ve decided you’re not a good fit, you ask?
(No, literally, several people have asked me this recently).

I say, you can’t go wrong with honesty.
No, not the nasty “brutal honesty” where you crush a person’s spirit…I’m not suggesting we go all Bill O Reilly on a less-than-perfect match, but just being authentic.  Most people truly appreciate that.

Here are a few tips I’ve found in my foray:

1.  If you’ve gone on 2/3 dates or fewer, texting someone to end things is perfectly acceptable.

“What?  (audibly gasps)  Isn’t texting so TACKY!?!”

Alright…let’s do this.  Let’s have the talk about texting.  It’s been comin’ for a while now…

Back in the day when texting was new to the social communication scene, yeah… it was tacky.  Because then, texting was only used for quick details, directions… more pragmatic purposes.  Texts were adjuncts to phone calls, not the culturally acceptable vehicle of communication that they are now.  Texting is ok!

If you don’t believe me that we can use texts to convey matters of the heart, think back to your dating/love life and tell me honestly that you’ve never gotten a text that made your heart flutter with excitement?  Or (especially if you’re a girl), made you get that visceral version of “awwww….” inside you?
If we can convey the good parts of dating via text (falling in love, flirting, proclamations of devotion and affection), why can we not do the negative equivalent?

Using texting or FB messaging to let someone off your dating hook is also an act of mercy.  Think about it – would you rather get a disappointing text while you’re in your own safe territory or would you prefer to have someone sit you down to dinner, break things off and force you to decide what sort of awkward conversation to have for the duration of your time together?  The phone isn’t AS bad as in person, but it still requires a poised response, whereas being on the receiving end of a text, you don’t have to do ANYthing!?  You can make funny faces, yell, flip the other party the bird…whatever works in your time of grief.

2.  Do NOT use the “fall off the map” method to get your point across.  This is just childish.

I know some of you out there (men AND women) think you’re sparing someone by just fading away… that way you don’t have to say those hurtful words about not wanting to date them anymore.  And you think that somehow, magically, this will make them be JUST FINE with you being gone.

You are wrong.

People want answers.  They want explanations.

If you don’t feel like the two of you have what it takes to be happy as a romantic couple, then have the decency to say so.
Even if it’s hard to be the bearer of bad news, you’re sparing the other person having to guess at WHY you went away.  And I hypothesize that usually the REAL reason why someone walks away from a relationship is FAR LESS hurtful than the possibilities we’re left to come up with in our heads.

In my own personal experience over the last 9 months, if a guy says he’d rather just be friends or he’s not interested and he tells me the reason, it’s SO much better than what my own fear and insecurity will plot against me in my mind.  If a guy just disappears, I’m left thinking he thought I was hideous or worse-he doesn’t think my jokes are funny!  *cringes…

We are grown-ups.  If you don’t want something/someone, be kind enough to tell that person.

You don’t have to offer up a long explanation.
You can simply say, “I’ve thought about the two of us and I just don’t think we’ll make a good match.”  TaDa!  Done.

Now, if the person comes back and asks why, it’s up to you whether you want to

a.  give a politician’s answer (double speak, using ambiguity and confusion to sound like you’re saying something when you’re really not).  This smoke ‘n mirrors option is recommended if the reason you’re taking the last train to splitsville is something out of his control.  Better to use dizzying circular logic to say nothing, than to say, “you’re so short that when we’re out together, even without wearing heels, I feel like I’m walking my child across the street.”

b.  tell him/her the truth.  I usually opt for this one because I know how much I want this when I’m on the other side of the ‘no match’ message.  You’ll be surprised how well people will react to this.

By way of example, I’ve told men:  We don’t line up on the issue of faith/spirituality, your ADD makes me feel like you’re not interested in knowing me, we having different smooching styles, and a myriad other answers.  Surprisingly, all have been graciously received.

3.  Don’t waste time out of guilt, talking with or going out on dates with someone when you know you’re not into it. 

Women are especially notorious for this unnecessary sense of obligation.  Why?  Once you know in your mind that the duo isn’t meant for romantic greatness – break it off right away.  You’ll save yourself time and energy and you won’t lead the other person on, thinking things are good when they’re oh-so-not.

Half the time I begin communicating with someone, all it takes is a series of texts or a phone call to know we’re not meant to be.  And there’s NO way I’m going on a date (read: getting dolled up and using up precious kid-free schedule real estate) if I know we won’t click… that’s just not good biz.

In my NEXT post, I’ll tell you about Raul…Rahul?…hmm… anyway – a guy who I went on 7 dates with before I finally had to break it off, HOW I did it and how HE reacted.

‘Til then – no falling off maps.  Keep it real.

It’s so Ha-a-a-ard to say GoodBy-y-y-ye to Men Todaaaaayyy…

Neil Sedaka knew a great truth about the world of love.  Breaking up IS hard to do.

But, take heart – putting the kibosh on a budding romance these days doesn’t have to be the sad-song-mix-tape making, soul-crushing drama it was in your teenage years.
So, step away from the origami-folded note, stop belting out U2’s “One,” put down your mascara-stained ‘break-up’ pillow and listen up.

I’m gonna use the next few posts to talk about this process.  After all, statistically you’ll do WAY more breaking things off than not.  Let’s hope, for my sake, that I don’t have THAT many more “it’s not gonna work out” texts in my future before I can send the “Hey!  I really think this is gonna work out!” one.  But, until that day, I’ll share my “expertise” with you.

As much as Hilary Duff or the cast of “St. Elmo’s Fire” would love you to believe that ending a courtship must carry with it months of tortured grief, I’m here to postulate that times have, indeed, a-changed.

Now, duh…I’m not talking about the end of a solid long-term relationship.
Those are horrible to recover from.  Best in those cases to just to just stock up on stereotypical frozen treats, load up on youtube stand-up comedy clips to distract from the heart-wrenching pain and hunker down for the long-haul.  I don’t have any great advice for those.  They suck.  Plain and simple.

I’m talking about those situations where you’ve gone out with someone a handful of times (like…the number of dates is still in the single digits), and it’s just not what you’re looking for.

The beauty of dating as a grown-up is that… well… we get to act like grown-ups.
No need to dust off the ‘ol “It’s not you, it’s me” aphorism.  Men these days can usually (usually being an important caveat there) handle hearing that, in fact…. it IS them.  Let me e’splain…

People in their 30’s+ are, in my experience, more invested in the dating process.  This means they actually have given some thought to what they want, what they don’t like, where they’re willing to sacrifice and bend and where they’re not.  So, with that contemplation also comes a sense of self-awareness.  Thus – when you go to tell someone it’s not a good match, he (or she), instead of being a babyish whiney brat about it (a la high school/college), will probably do one of the following:

a.  agree with you, and be genuinely open to staying friends (see my next post on a recent “break up” of mine)

b.  be disappointed, and ask for an explanation.  This is where things get a little tricky…I’ll get into that later…

c.  be disappointed, but appreciate your honesty and bow out graciously.

Example:  Last week I told a guy that I didn’t think we’d make a good match.  Here’s his response:
“Well, I appreciate your candor.  I guess we all know what we want, and I can’t argue with that.  I would love to keep you as a friend and hanger outer!  I definitely enjoy my time spent with you and, while I’m optimistic about any new person I meet, if it doesn’t work (for whatever reason), I roll with it. …Life is too short to be with someone that does not meet our needs.”

And, friends – that is not an exception.  I get that kind of gracious response all the time!  It’s great.

In fact – I have assembled a hodgepodge group of singles that get together and hang out, and most of the men on the list are guys I’ve gone out with and, while it wasn’t a great romantic match, they’ve continued being my friend.   Being an adult…ain’t it grand?

So, stay tuned …tomorrow:  HOW to walk away from a “not so heaven-made match.”

Game of Drones


A few weeks ago, I received a comment replying to one of my posts, from a man I’d gone out with once.   His response answered the question of what had happened with us, but it sparked so many more thoughts/questions, that I thought it demanded its own post.  Here goes.

Before I dive in, …Yes, I asked the guy if I could use his thoughts as a springboard for a post and he was very gracious to say yes.  (After a fair amount of bribery, cajoling and …there may have been a couple days in my basement bunker with nothing to eat but vienna sausages and some light water boarding, but he’s fiiiiine now).  Also – since his first name was on the comment, I’m just going to go ahead and use it.

If you want to see the original post with his comment – check it out here.

[for those of you who know the “Kevin” situation…this is neither “good Kevin,” nor “bad Kevin”…this is an entirely different Kevin.  Whew… glad we covered that.]

Kevin responded to my perplexity at not hearing back from him for a while after what I thought was a pretty good first date.  Then, when we DID connect, he told me he wanted to see me again.. and then fell off the map.  Here’s a snippet of the comment he left:

I have been reading a book entitled “The System” by “Doc Love” of all names! “The System” basically encourages the man to show interest in the female and then intentionally back off for an extended period of time to cause her to chase you. “Women love to be the aggressor,” says Doc Love. It makes the man a challenge for the female. If the woman pursues the man, then her interest level is high. If she does not chase the man, then she’s not interested and should be forgotten. As for whether or not this line of thinking is accurate is certainly questionable, especially since each female reaction cannot be predicted to an exact science. Anyhow, right or wrong, I backed off on communication with you intentionally to measure your interest level. Not once do I remember you initiating contact with me during that time. You do present yourself as one who dates quite a few men. That in itself for me was a little off putting. You seemed so enamored by the quest for love and elevated it to such a public status that I often wondered if/when “Mr Right” did come along, would you be able to end the search? Sort of like the dog chasing the car analogy. When the car stops, now what? Game over?

First of all… so… which problem WAS it that kept him from taking me out again?  Sounds like there were a few, and they conflict with each other.

a.  he backed off of communication and when I didn’t initiate, he assumed I wasn’t that interested?
b.  I was TOO interested in the pursuit of real love?
c.  I date too many people?

Dude, you gotta pick one.  I mean… if you claim that I elevate love to a too-lofty place, then how can you simultaneously be upset with me for casually dating?  And if I seem too heavy with the love stuff, then why did it bother you that I seemed to back off of communication?  I would think that would temper the intensity of my too-strong love search?

Also – it seems contradictory to say that I am so enamored with the quest for love that, perhaps, if Mr. Right did come along, I wouldn’t be able to end the search.  Help me out here.  If you have a lofty goal and you go seeking that goal, people will criticize you for it and wonder if maybe your real goal is just the search?  Isn’t that a little presumptuous?  It implies that you either know me better than I know myself (and after one date, I think that’s highly unlikely), or that you think you’re SO amazing that if I don’t fall in love with YOU, that my love-finder-o-meter must be broken, or only for show.

Do Olympians face this problem?  As they’re diligently training, do people come up and tell them they’re not invested in their atheltic journey because they’re only interested in the days of preparation?  That’s crazy.  They’re only putting that much effort into the training SO THAT the endgame (their true goal) will be amazing.  I’d like to think of myself as a relational Olympian.  No, I don’t just love running laps and lifting weights and doing my back handspring 100 times in a day for its own sake.  I’m enjoying the process for sure, but my eye is firmly on the final goal, don’t you worry.  And, I’m not going to settle for participation.  I want to win the gold.

Secondly, let’s talk about this “system,” whereby a man measures a woman’s desire level by ‘backing off.’  EVERYthing is wrong about this, not the least of these is the author’s name…

“Doc Love?” really?  That’s a self-assigned title, no doubt.  I dare say he didn’t get his PhD at an actual accredited “love school.”  That sounds like the sort of graduate program you see on billboards where the student union and academic office sit comfortably between a Famous Footwear and a Dairy Queen. I mean…if we’re just picking whatever darn title we want out of thin air and an overdeveloped sense of significance, I’d like to be called, heretofore, “Relationship Empress.”  (I would’ve gone with queen, but I don’t want to be prideful.)  On a related note, I’m rethinking the title for my upcoming book.  Maybe something understatedly excellent like, “the queen guru of all matters of the heart speaks on life, love and the universe” or a more simple gem: “Dalai Love.”  Alright, alright…back to the task at hand – let’s break this down:

To begin with, women YEARN to be pursued.  This is a universal truth that you can take to the bank.  If anyone says otherwise, they’re either misinformed, lying (to themselves at the very least), so damaged/wounded that they don’t have the capacity for this desire yet or they’re selling you something.  Life IS pain, highness.  Oh wait… wrong inspirational speech.  Yes – women.  Wanting to be pursued.  Right-o.  So, aside from the aforementioned damaged lot, the majority of single women crave the pursuit.  I’ve had this conversation SO many times – with men and women.  Women want a man to desire them so much that he will put his energy toward the investment of chasing her.  This shows his eagerness and that he sees something WORTHY of his time/energy/sacrifice.  Even the women that “love to be the aggressor” are still wooed by a man who initiates with them.  Believe me.

Now, this isn’t mutually exclusive.  I know it’s a pet peeve of men’s when women use the “men should pursue us!’ line to avoid expending energy to cultivate a relationship.  I’m a firm believer in mutual pursuit, once it’s clear both parties are “in.”  Women, while wanting to be chased, can also really enjoy doing the same.  There’s an excitement to being the initiator/aggressor, and I know men appreciate when women jump into that role.  But in the end, we want to land a man who didn’t just sit back on his lazy laurels waiting for us to come scoop him off the couch, take the remote and cheez-its out of his hand and coerce him into a relationship.  Blech.  It’s like most Godfather impressions…No one wins.

So, I suppose after reading Kevin’s comments and my experience with other 1-date-only’s, perhaps I ought to consider a slight paradigm shift.  At the very least, I feel like I need to start giving men an exit interview survey at the end of a date, where I ask if they prefer a woman who comes on strong or one who lets him take the lead.  That way I’ll know the layout of that particular obstacle course before starting the race.

The more I date, the more I have determined that I am a catch.  (I realize the obvious irony here… no need to point it out.  Yes, yes – the longer I go “unclaimed,” the MORE I think I have to offer?  Seems backwards, but it’s true…I’ll explain in another post).  But, I truly believe that if  man sees that (my worth as a woman/friend/romantic partner), he’ll keep putting his line out there to catch me.  And I will be gracious and winsome in the process.  I don’t play hard to get.  I don’t wait a certain amount of hours or days to text or call back… I am just me.  And after the initial steps of the courtship process, I am ALL about mutual pursuit.  I am happy to be the aggressor.  I’m a communication junkie.  If I like someone, you’ll know it – I’m not afraid to express my thoughts and feelings as I gauge my increasing interest in someone.  But, until I know he is interested in me, I feel like all of my gushing would just be suffocating.  

Oh mercy…what a tangled web!

Sheep’s Head Wednesdays

I met with another blogger the other day (I’d tell you who, but she’s much funnier than I am and I can’t have all 14 of my readers jumping ship YET…)
who gave me some advice on ways to improve my blog. 

One of which, is to introduce a system of categories for postings – where you publish a certain KIND of post on certain pre-determined days…

You know, like…

Mondays – Date Review
Tuesdays – Relationship Ranting
Wednesdays – Winner’s Circle
Thursdays – Baked Potato Night
Fridays – Dealer’s Choice

You get the idea.

Now, this assumes that I’m publishing every day…. bahahahaha!!!!  That’s cute.  

No, but seriously – adorable.

As soon as I start getting paid obscene amounts of money for my oft-enemy-making commentary, I’ll be posting daily…hourly, even.  Heck… I’d keep a steady feed of entertainment flowing into your inboxes, if it would take me to celebrity status.   But, until then, I don’t QUIIIIiiiite have the luxury of time to write for the blog EVERY day.  …yet.

But, still – I’m intrigued by the idea.  So – I’d love you to weigh in.

(Oh… I should add that she said people like to “click things” and to add some polls/surveys. 
So, count it as a public service… consider it practice for the presidential election… whatevs –  click away and be happy that you get a vote.   (….ish))

[polldaddy survey=”A0FEE9FA486A16D7″ type=”button” title=”Take Our Survey!” style=”inline” text_color=”000000″]

Gimme a minute…

Friends, Houstonians, Readers, lend me your patience.

As some of you know, my laptop was stolen last week.  On my birthday.  Yup.  And with it, went a half-finished book, my long list of blog post ideas and an entire folder of profile pictures, screenshots, messages, etc. for months and months of ‘Winner’s Circle’ posts.

Sigh with me, will you?

I watched the video feed of the jerk-store who took it.  Unfortunately, it turns out, real life security camera software doesn’t work the same way as it does on CSI.  When you zoom in on a pixelated license number, there is no button that will “clean it up.”  Trust me – I tried banging the keyboard in a determined and hacker-like fashion, whilst spouting phrases like, “if I can just access the mainframe,” and “I’ll use the network’s back door to gain entry to the network drive flux capacitor…” (and other totally cool stuff like that)… and still – no luck.

So – McStealy now has all my treasured thoughts and musings on the world of online dating.  If you see a book on the shelves in the coming months where the first half is brilliant, pulitzer prize caliber writing and the second half sounds like it was written by E.L. James’ pet bunny, you’ll know what happened.  (Then again… it’s quite likely that the pet bunny could churn out something easily 50shades better than its owner…but I digress).

Anyway… there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that I have a great new computer.  Huzzah!!  Turns out your birthday is a fantastic day to be robbed.  Especially if you break into heaving sobs with the woman from your bank who’s helping sort out your renter’s insurance.

Pamela, from USAA, was so sweet to listen to me list all the strange and sundry items I keep in my computer bag, including, but not limited to: perfume, curling iron, folders of music, various teas & stevia packets, workout headphones, a small ferret and, of course, the computer with all the necessary cables/cords.  (OK, fine… one of those isn’t true… who would keep a curling iron in their computer bag?  Pshyah….).

The bad news is that I’ve lost a wealth of information… including all sorts of bloggable material.  So, bear with me as I rebuild my lost empire of depressing online photos and messages, as well as my bank of subject ideas.

To that end… if any of you have any topics (related to dating, online dating, relationships, etc.) that you’d like to hear my snarky take on – please feel free to comment away!!

And don’t go anywhere while I’m taking a brief pause to reload my new baby with all the programs, documents and photos I’ll need to get back on track.

Oh, and lastly – should you see a bald, black man driving a silver Toyota Tundra and giggling as if he’s read the sassy thoughts of this single mama… you know what to do.

Nice Guys

I feel like the Y2K of my dating career is about to occur.

At midnight on Thursday, my age on all the dating websites where I have a profile will flip to the next number… effectively changing my own age settings and the responses I’ll get from men whose cutoff parameters for their ‘high end’ was 35… awesome.  Who KNOWS what gloriously wretched profiles/messages I have ahead of me.  What’s the dating equivalent of hunkering down in a bunker with a year’s supply of canned corned beef?

Am I officially eligible for “cougar” status now?  Somehow I feel like I can no longer grasp at the deliciously adorable 30-year-old men without being a cyber Mrs. Robinson.

I feel the Walgreens reading glasses and subscription to CatFancy  inching closer and closer…

So – as a tribute to the impending end of my 35th year, and as I pontificate over the last year’s foray into dot-com dating, I thought I’d use the opportunity to clear the bloggy air on a matter of some confusion.

Let the record show, that, while I write about the horrors and travails of the online dating community, it turns out…

I DO have good dates.
I DO meet sweet, thoughtful men.
I DO interact with intelligent and witty guys.
…and yes, I’ve met them all online.

You don’t hear about it often because it’s not as entertaining to talk about an evening of witty banter as it is to discuss options for fleeing the scene of an abysmal date.  I know I would rather hear the running internal dialogue of a woman contemplating gnawing her own proverbial arm off than endure another moment of her self-indulgent, narcissistic date’s thoughts on…well…probably himself, than to hear about the nice guy I met who took me on a nice date and did everything right.

But, I want the record to reflect that there IS a good side to the online dating scene.  There are smart, charming men on the ‘ol interwebs who are honestly looking for a legitimate long-term relationship with a quality woman.  (Are you asleep yet?  See what I mean?  Not as riveting as ‘nothin’ but a tie’ dude…am I right?)

Now, I WILL stick by my assertion that for every decent guy on the dating scene (at least from my experience), there are easily 50 jerks.
And that may be a conservative ratio.  If you think I’m exaggerating…just talk to any single woman in her 30’s or older and see if she doesn’t give you an overly enthusiastic “Amen.”
As you may guess, I have a theory about this…

I think that there are probably an equal number of good guys and bad guys out there to begin with.  But, by the time you’re searching for a good one in your mid-thirties, sadly, many of the good ones have been weeded out by various methods.  The good guys are like a herd of African Elk that have steadily and tragically been thinned out by the perils of their surroundings.  The herd starts out strong, but the relationship predators have picked them off, one by one:

– Many have been snatched up by women who saw a good thing and locked it down.  (married or in committed, monogamous relationships).  No harm no foul there…

– Some have been so severely hurt and damaged by a relationship or divorce, that they aren’t fit to offer what a woman wants/needs in a relationship.  These guys can go one of a few routes in the working out of their woundedness:  They can retreat from the dating world (thus, taking themselves off the market), they can enter into more relationships inordinately needy and unhealthfully, or (the worst option), they can overcompensate for their own insecurities by being jerks or players.

– Some have been so conditioned by the equally damaged women out there – that they can just hunt for sex-only relationships, that they play the numbers game looking for vapidity rather than substance.  These are the McSmarmy’s of the world.  And, I am the first to admit that we have the McLoosey women to thank for proving that they probably CAN live a life of casual-sex only.

– Sadly (for me), some of them have discovered that they’re gay (hey – a lot can happen between your early 20’s and your mid 30’s+)

– And some have just become so disillusioned by the exact same situation in the women’s camp (the fact that there are so few decent ones left, and that most of the available women are cray cray), that they’ve simply given up hope.

This leaves very few decent guys out there who haven’t been winnowed out by love’s lions, wolves and bears (yes…I had to Google the natural enemies of Elk.  There’s now officially a hunting site on my internet history…embarrassing…).

So, if I write about the bad ones WAY more often than the good ones, the reason is two-fold:

1.  There simply aren’t THAT many good ones left… so, just statistically speaking, the number of posts of baddies vs. decent-ies is going to reflect the true-life ratios.
2.  I doubt it would be nearly as entertaining…

BUT…  Since –
a. I don’t want any of you thinking that I’m joining the “all men are pigs camp,” (which I’m not), and
b. I also don’t want you thinking that, because I write about so many failures, that I never have successful dates or exchanges with men (I had a reader tell me, “I’ve been following along with your musings on the blog and I’ve come to the conclusion that you either have the absolute worst luck of any girl in the entire world ever, or failing that, there’s got to be some subtle issue with [your] technique that must be tracked down and addressed. Or perhaps some combination of the above.”)

For these reasons, I thought I’d tell a couple stories about “the good guys.”

Almost all of the dates I actually GO on are good.  I’d like to think this is due to my incredibly picky screening process.

But, the men I meet up with (you know… the ones who DON’T stand me up or show up at the club with a woman half my age…) are generally just lovely.  Up until this point, there hasn’t been a ‘perfect match’ (yes, yes… settle down, I know there’s no such thing as a perfect match…but you know what I mean), but the guys have been intelligent, funny, engaging, respectful and charming.  And several of these guys are so cool that, while we don’t end up in a romantic relationship, we’ve cultivated fun friendships.

Here are some snippets from recent dates:

– One guy goes to a church that I like to playfully make fun of.  We’d been bantering about that topic as we got to know each other a bit in e-mailing/texting, so when we met for drinks, he brought me a gift.  It was a cool pen with the name of that church on it, and he’d tied a ribbon in a bow around it.  haha! – adorable.

– Another guy, while I was in the restroom, ordered a bottle of wine for us that he remembered I liked, from a conversation long before that.  That kind of attention to what I’d talked about showed so much thoughtfulness.

– I’ve gotten to play darts, pool, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, ping pong and go bowling – all with fun guys who played up the competition with flirty trash-talking.

– On one date, we just hunkered down in front of the jukebox and played songs, talked about artists, laughed and basically deejayed for the entire restaurant/bar.

– For another date, when I texted to get the details, the guy texted back that we should meet at Taco Bell.  I was…how shall we say… less-than-thrilled, but didn’t know how to respond without sounding like a total diva, so I asked why he chose that spot, to which he replied, “they have excellent chalupas.”  I bit my tongue (which, for those of you who know me, know – is a feat in and of itself), and when I showed up, he told me that he was totally playing me, and took me to a lovely tapas restaurant where we got to sample all sorts of delicious Spanish cuisine.  He remembered I was a foodie, and thought he’d have some fun messing with me.

– One guy won a second date with me over a Words-with-Friends bet (I don’t usually LOSE that game!?), and we’ve ended up becoming the best of friends.  I can call him almost any time to take me 2-stepping.

– A man I’d gone out with a couple of times invited me over and made me the most delicious meal.  He asked me all about my preferences and if I had any allergies and if I was in the mood for any particular ethnic cuisine… all very thoughtful.  When I arrived, he (remembering I have an affection for mojitos (it’s on my profile)) made me blueberry mojito.  Then he served up (just to make your mouths water): Wine & herb braised short-ribs with basil mashed potatoes (amazing), and for dessert, a Prosecco-poached peach tarte tatin with homemade lemon ice cream.  Yes – that actually happened.  (He MAY have gotten a smooch…but I never dine and tell)

– A particularly charming guy met me for drinks, then took me to one of his favorite live blues spots and spun me around the dance floor, despite the fact that we were almost the only people there.

And there are many more stories of dates gone well.  No epic love stories YET, but I’ve acquired some of my best guy friends by spending time with these men I’ve discovered online.

So, yes – my dating life is full of funny stories, unfortunate misfires and some sizeable flops.  And when you combine those with the photos and messages I receive online, we have AMPLE fodder for years of bloggable entertainment.

But there are also some sweet, thoughtful guys still out there too.  And I figured it was about time I told you so.