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Archive for January, 2013

Where Have All the GoodGuys Go-o-one??

Well… I’m here to testify to the fact there are still some left.  At least here in Houston, there are.

 

I know I write a LOT about the meanies, the jerks, the not-so-smarts and clueless men swirling around in the cyber-sea of love, but the truth is that there are also some amazing single men (and women!) still out there to discover and subsequently lock down.

In today’s post, I’m going to highlight one great profile and one great date…as exemplars of hope.  🙂

I run across great profiles all the time.  Just this last week, I got a well-crafted message from a guy and when I read his profile, I knew I had to share it with all of you – as, at the very least, contrast to all the junk I put up on here.

Good Message 1

Here’s what I received… (keep in mind that some of this is funnier to ME because he made joking references to my profile, specifically):

Points for reading enough to be able to reference items from my profile, and for being subtley witty (that third sentence about weeding out the “players” is a sarcastic allusion to the bevvy of girls’ profiles that say that …it’s the equivalent of guys’ “I’m easy-going and laid back).

So, I went to his profile.  And it was awesome!  From the silly byline to the well-written body, it was a pleasantly normal and charming read.  So, naturally, I messaged him back to ask if I could showcase it here.  He was gracious and eager to say yes!  Here it is:

Good Profile 1

Now, whether or not you agree with his politics, you have to admit that the prose is refreshing.

And he’s not the only one out there who can still put the proverbial pen to paper and express himself this way…he’s one example of a subset of good guys still on the dating scene….lest you lose hope.

Now… on to a date I had recently.

(Isn’t this fun?)

I met a guy a couple of weeks ago… we’ll call him “David.”

We met through mutual friends and I think there was pretty immediate interest, so we exchanged numbers.  The next day, we texted/flirted and he laid down the gauntlet – Miniature golf – loser buys drinks.

I dig the playful element here.  But, to sweeten matters even more… the next day I awoke to an email that said…. well, I’ll just show you.

David 1

 How cute is THAT?  And how totally perfect for me?  There’s a roguish but sweet feel to this exchange that I loved.

So – what were my house rules?  I engaged several friends in brainstorming…I had three goals in mind:

1.  Be creative enough that he’d appreciate my mind.
2.  Include something that COULD lead to flirty touch, but wouldn’t necessarily if the chemistry wasn’t there.
3.  Win.

My rules:
1.  Any time the ball goes outside the designated path, the player must perform the Macarena (I ended up doing this more than he did, sadly)
2.  For the FIRST stroke of each hole, the non-playing person would cover the player’s eyes.
3.  For every point HE went beyond par for a given hole, we’d take one point OFF of my score.  (Ensuring my win…and no drink-buying…)

David picked me up EXACTLY on time (swoon…..) and we weren’t even 2 minutes into the drive before we were laughing, talking and enjoying each others’ company.  He told me HIS house rules:
1.  Any time either player went beyond 5 strokes, s/he had to yell at the TOP of his/her lungs:  “I’m the worst golfer EVER!!!”
2.  At the end of the game, we’d add both our scores together and if it was an even number, I had to cook him dinner…and if it was an odd number, he had to cook ME dinner.  I had to clarify…”you mean…tonight?”  He said – “no!  I’m already planning on having another date.”  (double swoon…)
3.  After hitting a hole in one (if that should happen…which it never did), the first shot of the next hole must be hit with your non-dominant hand.

We arrived at the place and started playing – and it was silliness right from the beginning.  We had a blast.  This guy is – with some unique differences – a male version of me… forthright, funny, loud, friendly, flirtatious… so how could I not have an amazing time?  I was on a date with a handsome version of one of my most favorite people!  🙂

Thanks to my third house rule, I won the game by a landslide, so I dodged the bullet of buying drinks.  But, I wonder… would he have made me buy them?  Part of me thinks he may have ‘let me off the hook’ because he’s got this strong gentlemanly streak in him – opening doors, being thoughtfully gracious in the way he converses, etc. – that a piece of me thinks he may have footed the bill either way… I guess I’ll never know!  Why?  Because my ingenious plan was flawlessly crafted in my favor.  (Mwah ha ha)

Afterwards, he took to me the charmingly dive-y newly re-opened “Moon Tower Inn” – an outdoor-only highly irreverently marketed craft beer and gourmet hot dog spot.  It was perfect.

David 2 - MoonTowerInn

We (David) bought a round of beer and 2 hot dogs (mine was a delicious lamb sausage with oregano, cilantro…and all on a sinfully white-flour pretzel bun), and we sat on a picnic table and just talked and talked and talked…. and, ok – fine…there may have been some smooching.  I mean – c’mon… winning putt-putt AND drinking fancy beer with a cute boy… how could I not?

For fun, we pulled up our OKCupid accounts on our phones and compared profiles – which was actually quite entertaining AND enlightening.  Since we hadn’t initially met online, we hadn’t seen each others’ bios/photos yet, so it was another great conversation starter (or…for two talkative people… “conversation ‘continuer’?”)

I saw toward the end of his, that he admitted to loving board games…and I think I audibly gasped in excitement… “NO one still likes nerdy board games!  But I LOVE them.  That’s too cool!”  To which, he replied, (and no. …this wasn’t code for all manner of naughtiness…), “I think we should go back to your place, crack open a bottle of wine and play games.”

And that is precisely what we did.

We played, we laughed, we talked, I kicked his hiney at “SET” (but, to be fair,…he’d never played before and he actually picked it up really quickly.  And watching him get excited about learning it was SO attractive), and we just had the nicest time.  A bit more smooching and a lot more conversation… and finally we had to give in to fatigue and say goodnight.

It was a fantastic night.  It was all the things I love most – an early start (so…lots of time for fun), playful and silly, good conversation, yummy food/drink and connecting with someone of a caliber I haven’t encountered in a while.  Oh…and did I mention he loves Jesus?  Yeah….

 

My point in telling you all this is to assure you that – amidst all the horror stories you hear of online dating or dating in later “seasons” of life… there are still funny, intelligent, thoughtful guys out there – single guys – who haven’t yet been snatched up.  So… don’t lose hope.  They’re out there!
And from time to time, I’ll remind you so.

 


Ask Sarah – Responding to Men

Sarah,

How do you handle getting tons of messages?
How many do you respond to?
Which do you ignore?
Is it jerky to just shut down your profile without responding to the last week’s worth of messages in your inbox?

message response

Dear “Jerky,”      😉

First of all, it is a universally known fact that women receive FAR more messages on dating sites than men do.  There have been multiple studies and statistics run on this, but one that I found entertaining (a reader sent me this link several months ago, actually) was Jon Millward’s not entirely scientific, but fascinating nonetheless, 4-month study of men and women’s messaging habits/numbers using OKCupid.  You can read the entire blog post here.  But, be forewarned that, while it is an interesting read, it does have some possibly offensive language in it for my more conservative readers.

The gist was this – women (attractive AND unattractive) receive FAR more messages than men (also of varying levels of physical attractiveness).  In fact,

  • The women as a group received over 20 times more messages than the men.
  • The two most attractive women received 83% of all messages.
  • The two most attractive women probably would have received several thousand more if their inboxes hadn’t have reached maximum capacity.
  • It took 2 months, 13 days for the most popular woman’s inbox to fill up. At the current rate it would take the most popular man 2.3 years to fill up his.
Millward Study 1

Chart of messages received from Millward’s fake profiles

 

And in my own experience, this has born out.
I have very attractive male friends who will get a few messages trickling in each week, while I have hundreds to sift through every few days.

And, OKCupid’s official stance/stat is:  “First messages sent by guys are only half as likely to get a reply as ones sent from women.”

All of that being said, I do not think you have ANY requirement to write back to anyone you don’t want to.

I WISH there was a way to let the men of the online dating world KNOW how staggeringly different the numbers were, so that they wouldn’t get their feelings hurt when they don’t hear back from a woman… but that doesn’t mean that we owe them a one-to-one correspondence either.

Being on a dating site does not somehow obligate you to communicate with people who don’t pique your interest!
Think of it like a Craigslist ad.  You’ve posted a lovely mid-century chest of drawers…
do you HAVE to reply to every interested party?  No!
Do you HAVE to read each e-mail of interest?  No!
Will you possibly miss a great offer?  Yes.
Hey – if you want to risk not being able to sell the piece to a reasonable buyer…that’s your own gamble to take.
Same with online dating.

My personal philosoply on this is – read them all.
Only respond to the ones that merit a response… and for me, that includes men I could be interested in,
as well as men who – while I know we wouldn’t make a good match for some reason or another – made the effort to write a kind or witty or interesting message.
I feel like there should be some kind of simple reward for taking the time to be thoughtful in that way.
And an honest, nice answer from a woman is just that.

But, I don’t respond to ‘winks’ or ‘hey girl’s or ‘dang- you sexy’s  or messages full of typos… who has the time?

Still – when a guy takes the time to read my mini-novela of a profile and to write something thoughtful – I think it’s just common decency to write back.

If I’m not interested, depending on the reason, I’ll tell him.
If it’s something changeable or generally understood/expected, I’ll say so.  Examples:  not the same faith, lives too far away, is still technically married, is outside the age range I want, etc.

If I’m simply not ATTRACTED to him, I’ll send this message:

Thank you so much for the thoughtful message.  Really – it’s refreshing to find a guy who takes the time to read a woman’s profile!  Thank you for your kind words.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we’d make a good match.  But I really do wish you the best of luck on your search.”

I know I run the risk of sounding like a college rejection letter, but if the guy really did read my profile, I’d hope he got the sense that I’m a genuine person, so I really DO mean that I wish him luck.  Hey – I want everyone to find love!  (but, me first.)

I guess the best answer to all of this, though trite,
is to exercise the golden rule.
Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

If you wrote a thoughtful message, wouldn’t it be nice to hear back from him, even if he wasn’t interested in dating you?  Would you ALSO want it said nicely?

I’ve gotten messages back from men saying that they don’t find me attractive… and, while I appreciate the honesty (and – you know – different strokes for different folks and all that), admittedly – it stings.  So, knowing that – I try to NOT be that girl with a guy.

 

And as far as closing down your account – close it whenever you want.  If a guy checks his mail, he’ll see that your account has been deactivated and he’ll assume you either found someone you’re putting all your energy into, or that you’ve had a psychotic episode and the nice people watching you at the asylum, baker-acted your profile.  Either way, he’ll know it was something external – and unrelated to him.  No harm, no foul.


 

Coming up tomorrow…the GOOD guys… They’re out there!


Stairway to Taboo Conversations – Pt. V

This is the last of our ongoing discussion on faith and dating.  And I thought I’d conclude with the practical application of it all –

HOW to date someone who shares your beliefs
…or, if you don’t care about that – how to avoid those of us who do.

The question, especially with online dating, is HOW/WHEN to open this subject up.  There’s a level of privacy in talking about faith…and yet…it matters so much for compatibility that, at least for me, it needs to be brought up pretty so0n.  I haven’t always been the best at this… perhaps there was a subconscious measure of  “don’t ask so you won’t be disappointed” mentality at work, but I’m buckling down now.

So, for my part,
I’ve resolved in 2013 to be even more circumspect in this category – so much so that I’m not going to meet a guy unless I’ve somehow at least confirmed that he is a Christian and that it’s a real part of his life.  Yikes!  This is going to be tricky.  Why, you ask?  Because asking these questions can often send the wrong message.  It can make it sound like the faith issue is ALL I think about.  It can sound like I’m a big fat prude.  It can sound like I’m super picky (which I am,….but they don’t need to know that JUST yet).  No matter how you slice it, letting someone know from the get-go that it’s a deal-maker/breaker CAN come off sounding like I’m not particularly fun.

But, guess what?  Oh WELL!
I know I’m fun, and if they’re the one for me, they’ll investigate long enough to see that too.

I’m done going out with “he MAY be a Christian…hard to say” guy.  It’s not because they’re not great… heck, half of my guy friends ARE that guy.
It’s that I open myself up to falling in love…or at least in lust…. with someone who I know isn’t who I really want.  Sigh…

So – my plan?

Ask.

Ask the guy, before we meet.  Either on the site’s messaging system or by text or on the phone.

And sometimes the answer is IN the profile. 

  • If, under “religion/faith,” he has NOTHING, I’m not interested.  I used to give these guys the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they were Christians who just didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into the stereotypically unfortunate characteristics our society has assigned (or that many Christians have assigned ourselves).  religion - nothingBut, so far, 10 outta 10 of these are simply not spiritually-minded at all.  Moving on.
  • If they list “Christian,” but under “My match,” they choose “no preference” or they click all the religions, then we’re not going to see eye-to-eye either. 
    (side note:  at the risk of losing readers here… this is not the way I select friends.  I have some of the most amazing people in my life who range all over the spiritual spectrum from Atheist to Buddhist to Agnostic to generically spiritual-but-not-religious to die-hard conservative Christians to licensed Witch Doctors (ok, well that guy is self-titled, but still…).  I love engaging with and befriending people of all faiths.  I just want to MARRY someone who believes fundamentally what I do.)
  • religion - no preference 2religion - no preference
  • If they list “Christian,” but then say hateful or close-minded or overly-crass things in their profile, then I’m not interested.  That just screams ‘hypocrite.’
     

But, if they list “Christian,” and there’s not indication that that’s NOT the case, then I have to ask.

Now, I’m not going to just sidle up and say, “Hi!  Are you a Christian for REELZ?”  But, I can ask questions like:

1.  “So, where do you worship?”  (by the way, NO – I do not think that going to church makes you a Christian, but most people who are serious about their faith DO believe that corporate worship is a part of that.  But, then, there are also believers who are hurt or angry at the church/organized religion or for some other reason don’t attend worship…..whew…it’s confusing. 
I feel like a venn diagram is in order here.

*scurries over to whip one up and insert here:

church venn

2.  “Your profile says ‘Christian, Other’… what exactly does that mean to you?”

Again… this might stun someone.  But, honestly, the kind of guy I’m really looking for (really looking for means, not the guy you’d settle for at 9:00 on a Friday night when all your friends are unavailable and you’re feeling lonely and maybe you’ll go on a second date with that guy who smelled funny…) – no, the kind of guy I REALLY want – won’t be scared by this question.  He’ll be intrigued – maybe even GLAD.  Because HE will be looking for someone who could answer that question too.

I’m sure there are multiple other ways to ask the question, but these are a start.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

So – I’m sure there’s much more to be said about faith and dating, but for now, we’ll close this chapter on the blog.  

In the next couple of weeks, here are some teasers for what you have to look forward to:

– “Ask Sarah” – how to reject someone…. even if it’s just because he’s a bad kisser…

– A discussion about the good guys… great profiles, fantastic dates… proof that they’re still out there.

– Speed Dating, a la Match.com…

and more!

Stay tuned.


Stairway to Taboo Conversations – Pt. IV

In this ongoing discussion of faith and dating, I polled several people across the spectrum of beliefs and got some interesting responses.

I thought I’d use today’s post to show you one of those replies.  (read:  stall for time while I collect enough damning evidence…er…unfortunate dating profile photos to use for a winner’s circle posting tomorrow.  Hey…I have no shame in letting someone else do the writing/work every once in a while).

Enjoy.  Or disagree…  Either way – read on!


 This is an area that should be important to people of no faith as well as the “super-religious.”

Let me share one assumption first (which is based on way too many years of marriage counseling).  Dating is never casual.
We may want it to be, but it is, by nature, an environment that invites the development of romance.
That being said, I think that even early dating decisions should ask the question, “Is there anything about this person that would make a 50 year marriage uncomfortable or unbearable?”

Let’s take an example that is less volatile than traditional religious belief (or absence thereof).  If I were single, I might enjoy an evening with a lady who enjoys a good séance now and again even though I think that’s a lot of rubbish.  I don’t object to her chatting with her deceased uncle, but I wouldn’t want to spend my life with someone who thinks that Ghost Hunters International represents a spiritual exercise.  I wouldn’t want our children to be raised with what seem to me to be odd beliefs, nor would I want to live with all that table tapping (knock once for “yes”, twice for “no”).

Most of us try not to be judgmental about the beliefs of others.  Even so, a lifetime with someone whose core beliefs and values originate from a radically different source than our own is a prescription for relational failure.

Having said that, the question still arises as to when to broach so sensitive a topic?  Should an atheist wear a T-shirt that says “I don’t need God to be good,” when snapping that all-important profile pic?  Should a Pentecostal gal tell her date that she has a “check in her spirit” before he picks up the check on the table?

I understand the reluctance to announce one’s religious beliefs before getting the other person’s last name, but it should certainly be a natural part of the basic “getting’ to know you” chat.  “Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a religious fanatic.  What are your hobbies?”  When to approach the topic may vary with the individual.  For some, putting some basic faith statement on a profile could be a positive tool to filter out those who are uncomfortable around people of faith.  If the profile statement seems like an invitation to stereotyping, the information can be shared on the first date.  Unless your date is a mega-dud (not to be confused with “mega-dude”) you will be asked probing questions about your likes and dislikes, dreams, aspirations, and such.  If you feel awkward saying “Well, I’m a Christian and active in my church,” maybe you need to deal with your own attitude toward your faith.  I’m not sure how an atheist works that into the conversation, but since both people are sharing, I tend to put the onus on the faith adherent.

Dating is a process through which singles invite people to discover their character and their lifestyle.  If your faith or dislike of faith is a key part of who you are, you need to disclose it early on.  Who wants to fall in love with someone who will later reject so critical a component of one’s life?

Oh, and for the record, falling in love with the intention of converting someone to or away from a particular faith perspective will almost always guarantee ongoing mutual misery.

R. Garment, Pastor & Counselor


 

There you have one man’s response.

What about you guys?  Weigh in, readers!


Stairway to Taboo Conversations – pt. III

What do you believe?
We’ve talked a lot about how hard it is to find someone on the same page as you spiritually, but we haven’t really defined those pages.

In fact, one of the biggest issues my non-Christian friends have with me, is that they think my standards/parameters are way too “picky” in this department.

So – I want to clarify what it is that I believe, exactly, so that you all can help me find a man.  Ha!  No… (not that I’d complain, but that’s not the point).. I’m including this as part of our discussion on faith and dating… to demonstrate just how hard it is to find someone on the same page…or at least CLOSE!

What do I believe?

I believe I can fly.  I believe I can touch the sky.
No?

I believe the children are the future… teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess insii-ii-i-iiiiide…
Also no?

Fine.  Seriously.  What do I believe.
…as well as WHY my line is, as one friend calls it, a “hard double yellow” line (one that can’t be crossed).

 

It’s not that my line is SO rigid.  It’s that, unlike my atheist/agnostic friends who can respect any religion, I want to find someone who SHARES my beliefs.

Look…anyone can fall in love.  I’m really good at that.
But, it’s not enough anymore for me to just fall in love… only to realize that there is a serious gap in compatibility…

It’s not enough to find someone who will go with me to church and nod along.
It’s not enough to find someone who “accepts” me for what I believe, but thinks that, for him, it would be a crazy pill to swallow.
I don’t just want to be tolerated – I want to be looking at the world through the same lens.

This isn’t like sushi and BBQ – two foods I hate.  (I know, I know… insert a zillion lectures about how I “just haven’t had the right kind…”  I know I’m a disgrace to the foodie name I claim…blah blah blah…).  I also hate coffee.  Yup – me and 14 other people on the planet.  (I think I just literally HEARD my readership numbers dropping…)
But, I could gladly live my life with a man who ate sushi and BBQ all the time and who filled our home with the smell and stains of dark roasts.
But, faith is different from preferences.

Do this – even if you don’t AGREE with me – for one moment, for the sake of argument – assume that God really is real.  Assume (for now) that he REALLY did send Jesus to the earth to rescue us.  Assume that there really is life after death.  IF you believed that (and I know it’s a huge “if”) – then, how could you be ok just being ‘appreciated?’  Wouldn’t you want someone else who was in that world, who would follow you even after death, in a life characterized by following the person you believe created the world?
OK – you can take off your “imagine with me” glasses.

Many of my non-Christian friends don’t understand what the difference is – or why this all matters – as long as the end result is the same:  Do good, be kind, love people.

I agree that those are all wonderful things to do and I have been so blessed to know some of the most generous, thoughtful atheists/agnostics.  But, my worldview is different from just a general moralism.

My friend Christyn put it like this,

A Christian perspective on life is actually radically different from “trying to be a good person.”  People of all faiths – or no faith – believe in being a good person.  But to be Christian is to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to live in radical obedience to him.  That means you pray to him, ask for his guidance in life, listen to His Spirit within you, and generally seek to make earth more like his heavenly kingdom.  That’s TOTALLY different from being a “good person” although almost always the fruit of a Christian faith looks like doing good in the world.

Interestingly, I don’t not date non-Christians because I think God will stop loving me or punish me.  It’s never about that.  It’s simply about priorities.  With God as my number one priority, marrying someone who shares that priority only makes sense.     -CS

I honestly don’t expect a lot of people to get this or agree.
That’s ok.
I wish they did, but I’ve realized that unless you’re in my boat… it DOESN’T make sense why it should be such a big deal.

A sweet atheist friend of mine likened the issue of what you believe to political beliefs.

You know we have laws in this country that protect our privacy for who we voted for. If someone were to ask you where your vote went, and you said you’d like to keep that private, people won’t press the issue. If I were on a date and someone asked me who I voted for, I would keep that private at first.  If the person were REALLY political they might feel the need to know, but that would make me realize another difference between us.

But if someone asks you your religious preference, it’s boastfully uttered! Its the societal norm it seems. But as an atheist I cannot wear that badge with pride. People in this country are overwhelmingly anti-atheist! So I never bring it up in the dating realm until it’s asked about. And in some cases the other person doesn’t care, in others it stops everything from moving on.     –JP

 

I’d honestly never thought of it like this before, but he’s right… and his point, whether it bugs him or not, goes right to the idea that your spiritual beliefs MATTER on a different plane than all else.

For me, they do.

 

 

But – back to that being-on-the-same-page thing….

I think one of the biggest problems in wanting to find someone who believes similarly to me, is that there are MANY different understanding/iterations of every religion.  It’s not enough to call myself a Christian.  Because there are plenty of men out there who would call themselves Christians and believe wildly differently than I do.

 

That same friend who I just quoted, added,

“…if someone tells me they are a Christian, I have no idea what their stance is on homosexuality. Christians do not agree on this topic! Nor do they agree on abortion, the trinity, the pope, etc. Another example might be someone telling me they believe in karma. This is told to me very often! Even though karma originates from hinduism and buddhist religions, they are neither of those. I’ve even met people who believe Jesus Christ was the son of God, yet they are not Christian 0.o   You start to wonder if people even understand their belief system properly.”

 

No, JP… many people do NOT understand their belief system properly.  So – that muddies the waters even MORE!

 

I’d LOVE a dating site where there was a required spot for you to write out a few sentences saying what it is you believe.  How cool would THAT be?

 

For my part, it would probably be something like this:

 

I believe there’s a God.  I believe he created the world and everything in it.  I believe that the world now is NOT the way it’s supposed to be and there is pain and brokenness all around us.  I believe God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to show us how to live and love and to restore our broken relationship with God, and ultimately to redeem this world and make it right again.  I try to follow him in my life.  I mess up a lot.  But, God is gracious and forgiving and as I struggle through this life, I enjoy his good gifts, and find comfort in him when there’s suffering.  I also value the community of believers and worship.

It would be something like that.  I believe a lot more than that, mind you… I have thought a LOT about what I believe, including some of the nitty-gritty less central pieces of Christianity…I dig that stuff.  But, all of that stuff doesn’t have to line up 1-to-1 with a man for the relationship to be successful.  I don’t need to find another theology nerd.  But, I DO want to find someone who will not only enter into discussion about these things, but who is trying to honor God with HIS life and his relationships.

 

My brother-in-law and friend, Mike said this:

 “…God has orchestrated the sacred union of marriage and the Biblical picture of that is two believers in union together with a mutual goal of glorifying God in their lives and in their relationship.”

I’ve thought several times about making the first sentence of my profile:

“I want a man who will throw me around the dance floor and kiss me passionately Saturday night, and then hold my hand in church Sunday morning.”

Is that too much to ask for?



Ask Sarah – Messaging Protocol

Any woman (and possibly man?) who’s been on the dating scene for more than half an hour…has fallen victim to the less-than-sweep-you-off-your-feet messages.

Yesterday, I had an “Ask Sarah” message come through with this screenshot:

non sequitor message

And of course, the reader (Robyn) was at a loss as to what to respond back with!?

It’s not that it was mean or naughty, but…. what?

Where did that come from?

I mean – I understand more than most, how important it is to be a good kisser, and to find another good kisser.  And it’s one thing to say in your profile that it’s one of your skills… but to just bomb your message with that at random?  Weird.

I told her to reply:

I’m an excellent spelunker.
Thanks for the compliment.
You’re not too shabby yourself!

I don’t know if she will or not, but it got me thinking that maybe men (and women!) need a lesson in HOW to send a message online!

You’d think that, in a land of social networking and global communication, that we’d be able to manage sending a simple two sentence message,
but sadly…no.


 

Women receive a LOT of messages.  But, for every 100, there are maybe 5 that catch my eye.  Trust me – there are a lot of bad conversation starters out there…

These include, but are not limited to:

  • poor grammar/spelling
  • crass/creepy/inappropriate
  • confusing and downright weird
  • cheesy pick-up lines
  • one-word time wasters
  • critical, mean or lecture-y
  • multiple message harassment in the absence of any interest

So – a few tips when sending someone (especially a woman) a message:


1.  Do not quote Ne-Yo.  I’m gonna let that one stand on its own.

2.  Do NOT have a stock message you copy and paste to every woman.  We know these when we see them.  Honestly… I delete these right away.  If you can’t take the time to write ONE small thing that’s specific to me… then you’re not the kind of man I want to forge a relationship with.

But, also, it sends the clear message that you probably didn’t even read her profile…you just saw enough of the pictures to decide she was hot enough to click “paste” for.  Swoon…

This has "Cntrl-V" written all over it...

This has “Cntrl-V” written all over it…


3.  Say more than one word.  I know, I know…who has the time??  But, seriously.  A “hi” isn’t gon’ cut it, “TexasGuy69″…  I’m a woman.  I need WORDS!

message - hi

 

 

I understand being a man of few words… but…ONE?

And, good grief…I didn’t even get any punctuation!??

Sigh…


 

4.  Don’t be weird.

See below.

woodchucksA little bit of cheesy randomness can be cute, but know your limits.

Once is cute.  Twice is “I’m off my meds.”


pick-up line 15.  Don’t use a cheesy pick-up line, unless you’re doing it as a joke.  And if you are… you have to SAY so.  We don’t know you’re being ironic unless you say it.  A tacky pick-up line on its own is just stupid.


6.  Do NOT quote Ne-Yo.  What?  I cannot stress this enough.

It will not go well for you.


7.  Take a hint.

If you’ve messaged once and haven’t heard back…it’s because you didn’t make the cut.

Trust me on this…

There are TOO many messages to be able to write back to each one and say, “Thanks for the message, …I don’t think we’d be a good match, but best of luck” to every one who doesn’t spark interest.  I save those for the ones who are particularly thoughtful in their initial communication.

If you don’t hear back from me, or – especially if I SAY it’s gonna be a no-go…just cut your losses and move on.  MmmmK?

Here are a couple examples, so you all can see how pathetic it looks on the receiving end.
Seriously.
“No” means “go stalk someone else.”

take the hint

Did he actually use the term “indoor olympics?” sigh…

take the hint 2


So, what ARE you supposed to write?  It’s easy.  It doesn’t have to be long and flowery.  Simply introduce yourself or say hello and include ONE thing about the person or his/her profile.  Here’s one I got the other day.  Short, but sweet:

message - nice & simple

 

nice message 1This one is great because he obviously read enough of my profile to know that I value a man who has mastered the English language AND that I love playing ping pong.  Not only did he use humor, but he complimented me as well.
A+

 

nice message 2


This guy did the same thing with the grammar joke…(which is always a winner), and with 5 short sentences, he got a message back.  Easy, right?


 

So – let’s all pay it forward this year and send messages that don’t bring shame to our good names, shall we?

Meanwhile, Robyn in FL, …if you reach out with spelunking, I think we’d all like to hear what comes next.

Over and out, peeps.

 


Stairway to Taboo Conversations – Pt. II

Presbys and MoronsIf you’re just joining me, I’m using a few posts to talk about the difficulty of wading through the tricky waters of faith/religion in the dating world.  Even if you wouldn’t call yourself “religious” (a word I actually hate), you have SOME set of beliefs that you ascribe to…And what do you do about syncing those with another?

(The intro to this discussion can be found here.)

I figure the best way to dive into this is to simply talk about it from my viewpoint and experience.

This is, by far, THE biggest stumbling block
to finding “the one”
(for me… the one for me).

I’m going to a speed-dating event later this month, hosted by Match .com, (which will hopefully be better than my last attempt at speed dating…), and I told a friend of mine – if I knew that all 15 of the men there would be Christians, I’d happily pay four times the amount for the event.  A room full of single Christian men?  YES to that.

In related news, I’ve just thought of an idea for my birthday, for anyone who needs one…

But I digress.

The point is – finding a man who shares my beliefs is practically impossible.  (But, since I am an optimist and have not gotten so cynical that I’ve stopped believing in love – I can still say “practically”…)

 

Online dating SHOULD be the perfect solution to this problem, right?
I mean – there are BOXES to check, people…it’s simple!  RIGHT?
BOXES!!

Every site has options for selecting which faith (or non-faith) you are, and which you’re looking for.

at OK Cupid

OK Cupid

at Match.com

Match.com

at Zoosk

Zoosk

at Plenty of Fish

Plenty of Fish and eVow


All you have to do is be honest.  Check the box that TRULY represents you, and this should solve the issue…right?

The problem is (well, ONE of the problems…) – the “choose the box” method doesn’t really work.  Well, not on its OWN.

Why?  Because people are dumb when it comes to matters of faith/spirituality.
Fine – maybe not DUMB, but largely NOT THOUGHTFUL. 

After having been out there for a while now, I’ve realized there really (at least for ME) almost has to be some mention of faith in the essay portion of the profile.  Because, I’ve learned that there are plenty of people out there who check the box “Christian,” and have absolutely no idea what that even means.  It’s actually embarrassing to me AS one. 

The majority of the guys online whose profile lists them as “Christian” are actually just

  • Loosely spiritual (they acknowledge that there may be a spiritual dimension to this life)
  • Agnostic (acknowledging that there must be some supreme being, but unable to claim any one religion because we don’t have the power to KNOW for sure what’s true
  • Christian by name only (they grew up in a household where they went to church or VBS or Christian summer camps)
  • Christian in philosophy, but not in their lives (they actually believe that Jesus was the son of God, but never go to church, don’t think that any kind of organized religion is good and have no desire to deepen their understanding of their beliefs) 

I went out with a guy who marked “Baptist” on his profile, but then on the date – when it came up, said that he doesn’t really follow John the Baptist anymore.  Um…. as far as I know, no religion holds John the Baptist as the person to “follow.”  It was a whole strange discussion where I realized that he’d never spent ANY time thinking about or processing what it is he really believes.

In fact, as I think about this topic, it occurs to me that my atheist and agnostic friends have given more honest reflection/thought to what they believe (or don’t believe) than many “Christians” I run across.  Seriously.  I’m thinking of three friends in particular – two atheists and one agnostic – who have devoted serious time and attention to arrive at the place they’re in, faith-wise.  It’s quite impressive, actually!
Sadly, for MANY people, that’s not the case.

So – it’s not enough to check the box.

 

Here’s just one example of that:

This guy was, at least, decent and sweet about the fact that he’d checked a box that didn’t represent him.  We’ll call him “Luke.”

I met Luke on Match.com and we began messaging each other.

Luke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We quickly moved to texting and were planning to meet up for drinks or lunch.  I used an opportunity in our texting to playfully assess how serious he was about his faith.  Here’s how it went:

Luke texts

 

This is disappointing, but in the end, it saves me the heartache of starting to fall for someone who I can’t really be with…

But at least this guy was honest about where he was.  I SO appreciated that.

I go out on dates all the time with guys who claim to be Christian and either full-on lied on their profile, or (more often the case), simply were raised in the church and claim that without really owning it for themselves.  It would be the same as me saying I’m a republican simply because my parents are.  We would all agree that doesn’t make much sense to call yourself one thing, if you don’t have any honest connection or true identification with it for yourself… and yet – people do it in online dating all the time.

 

So, I press on.

I include what it is I’m looking for in my profile, I TRY to assess where a guy is in his own journey of faith before meeting up, but certainly within the first couple of dates, and when I DO find men who share my beliefs, I still have to find one who knows how to us an apostrophe, is funny and attractive, etc., etc.  Seems NEARLY impossible.

In the next portion of this series, I’m going to get pretty controversial and talk about WHAT exactly it is that I believe.  And WHY it’s NOT ok for me to date someone who’s not in the same camp.  Buckle up…it may involve snake-handling.

Ok, fine, it doesn’t…….

 


New Dating Sweetheart on the Scene – eVow

Quick note:

Our handy, brilliant, friendly and ever-dashing Tyler Fake-Last-Name has fixed all but one of the issues we’ve had with the new site – YAY!  So – you can now subscribe to get e-mails whenever I publish.  Huzzah!!  Pass it on to your friends, co-workers, that weird guy who applies his chapstick slowly while staring at you at Starbucks and anyone else.

Alright – on to today’s post…


For any of you on Plenty of Fish, you may have seen the recent ads for their new partner site, eVow.

I was curious about this myself, and then when prodded by an AskSarah question from a reader (below), I decided to check it out.

Subject: Plenty of Fish isn’t for relationships?

‘Ask Sarah’  Message:
POF just sent me an email advertising for their other site eVow. It clearly states it is for people “looking for relationships”.
If that’s the case then what is Plenty of Fish meant for?

Good question!

I went ahead and signed up for an account… I figured, what better way to see what this new site is all about.

eVow touts itself as a site for people who are SERIOUS about entering into a long-term relationship with someone, as opposed to just casual dating or hook-ups.

Yet, on the very first page of questions, they offer an option for …well…. NOT that.  Check it out:

eVow 1

Uuuummm…..

Naturally, my eyebrows were raised in suspicion…
(metaphorically speaking, of course… I don’t wanna create unnecessary wrinkles!)

But, I soldiered on, partly for more answers, and partly because I really appreciated some of the questions they asked.

They posed the normal demographic questions, but they also asked about family history, in regard to long-term relationships, birth order info, how long your past relationships have lasted… and other points of reference for matching people up.

eVow 2

Kinda cool.  And different.

So – I filled out the entire profile (which means I basically copied and pasted my OKCupid profile in, made a few changes out of some sort of internal prompting to make it even better, I suppose), added some recent photos and spun the wheel.
(Again…this is proverbial.  There is no wheel.  But, how COOL would THAT be??)

The site is pretty much a slightly more appealing-to-the-eye version of PlentyOfFish.  Great.  So – why have a sister site at all?
At least…that’s what I thought.

I got an e-mail a few moments later that shed light on their “spin” on the dating profile – and I gotta admit, I dig it.

eVow 3

Aha!  So – that rogue choice on the first set of questions – the third one (“I am not looking to commit to a long-term relationship at the moment”) is there to WEED OUT people who are just into the casual/hook-up sorta dating.

How cool is THAT?  They don’t TELL you that up front, but ostensibly they reject those people who check that box, so that the people who post profiles are all ones who are serious about finding a partner to settle down with.

I decided to go searching and see if that was the case.  I just did a BASIC search, by age and zip code, and my options were pages and pages of men, ALL of whose profiles listed that they were looking for something serious.

eVow 4

After all that skepticism, I suppose I was wrong.  Which is a good thing.

Because I LIKE this idea!

Now, if we could JUST do something like this for matters of spirituality and levels of intelligence…

 

So, to answer my reader’s question, …No – I suppose PlentyOfFish is NOT a place to look for relationships.

I’ve joked for a long time that it’s the “under the bridge” of the common dating sites, but I’m more sure than ever.  And you know why?  Because even THEY know…

Plenty of Fish wouldn’t have had any reason to launch a new site with its angle on commitment, if the original site afforded its members that option.  They must’ve known what I know – that MOST of the people on that site are icky.  I mean…er…. looking for something different than what the Sarah Stones of the world want.

Now, I DO have friends who I met because of PoF…but don’t kid yourself – I tease them mercilessly about the fact that they’re WAY too good to be on that site.

(And if you’re scratching your head thinking – “wait…aren’t YOU on that site?  Do you think of YOURSELF as a loser?”  Well, of course not.  I’M on that site – for YOU!  For research.
And, admittedly, in the off chance that a gem is unearthed in the sea of PoF mud…I’ll be there like the relational archeologist I am, to dig him out of the mire and call him mine.)  🙂

So – PoF knows what we’ve all already deduced…. it’s basically a cyber street corner with a few anomolous good guys/girls left.  And in order to keep their ad revenue flowing in, they had to act.  Hence – the new website.

 

So, there you have it.

If you want a no-strings hook-up (and lots of ab photos) – PoF is your spot.

If you want the ease and price point of PoF, but you’re looking for a real relationship, check out eVow.  Tell ’em I sent you.

And as a finders fee……they can send me a man.

Whaaaat?


 

P.S.  After publishing this post, I decided that, to be thorough, I really ought to check and be sure that the site delivers on its promise the OTHER direction.

So, I tried to sign up for an account using almost identical demographic information (a different e-mail address and username, obviously)…same job type, same education level, same preferences on religion/drinking/smoking/body type, etc…. the only thing different was my goal as far as commitment.  I answered the questions about relationships along the lines of “I’m not ready for a long-term relationship,” and “I’m really just casually dating for now.”  After going through all their preliminary questions, I got this message:

eVow 5

All I can say is – I’m impressed.  They stick to their promise. 

Now, if only I could find a man who would too……..

 

😉

PostScript over.


Stairway to Taboo Conversations

prayer time

If George Michael can do it… why can’t we?  Let’s talk about faith! 
(Granted, George was just trying to get laid, but still…)

Alright – before all my non-religious readers start collectively rolling their eyes and reaching for the mouse to go see if there’s any less-fanatic reading material close by, let me say that this post is NOT just for the Bible-belters out there.  It is a post for anyone who has ever had to consider the issue of faith, or LACK THEREOF when entering into relationships (including friendships, blending families, co-workers, etc.). 

That’s EVERYONE

Even if you’re one of my dear friends or family who thinks that any iteration of religious belief is just as ridiculous, you’ve still undoubtedly run into the issue of not being in agreement with other people… and this post is about THAT.

From Lord Xenu to science alone… we all put our faith (insert the word ‘belief’ or ‘trust’ here if that makes you feel all heeby-jeeby-ish) in SOMEthing. 
So – can’t we talk it out?article insert - We all believe in something

How to date when your faith (or your desire to be free of religious bounds and AVOID people like me) is important to you. 
When do you talk about it? 
How do you assess it? 
How do you navigate a relationship between two people, each with his/her own thoughts/philosophies/backgrounds/levels of passion, etc. 

This discussion was bound to happen.  And it’s here.  It is upon us. 
So, buckle up – grab your Bible or your Qur’an or your Richard Dawkins book or your empty tea-leaved Starbucks venti cup and come sit down by my fire.  (It’s not a real fire…it’s a metaphor.  We’re gon’ get INTO it).

Everyone believes in something.  Even if that belief is the firm philosophy that we are ALL there is and that all religions are nonsense. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum are those of us (me included) who believe that there IS something bigger than us out there.  This discussion is not really to get into the nitty-gritty of what I believe (but if you wanna know…I’m happy to tell). 
But I DO want to talk about HOW you talk about it.

Being on the dating scene as a Christian is incredibly tricky. 

  • Problem #1:  Sheer numbers.
    Knowing that I’ll only end up choosing someone who shares my faith, narrows the excitingly high potential pool of men down to a tiny despairing drop. 
  • Problem #2:  Identifying yourself as a Christian often sends the message: 
    “I’m not fun” or “I hate sex.”article insert - I'm not fun...
    Great.  Both of those things are absolutely false… for me.  So – how do I make that a priority while still letting the dating world know I’m a cool and passionate chick?
  • Problem #3:  WHEN to get into this… how many dates do I “waste” before finding out where he stands on this topic?  You can’t throw it out right away… it’s too “heavy.”  But you can’t wait too long – til you’re hooked and falling for him… then you open yourself up to disappointment and heartache if he’s not where you are…
  • How much wiggle room is there on differences in belief?  I mean… I may not be aiming for a full-on atheist, but I’m also not going to draw the line on some trivial point of theology either.  What about different styles of worship?  Different views on side issues?  Different ideas about church attendance?  Sigh… It’s dizzying.

The next couple of posts will be a round-table discussion on these ideas.  I’m going to ask some friends of differing faiths to weigh in, and I’ll talk about my own experience on this front. 

Meanwhile… scroll through your contacts and if you know a handsome, single man who loves Jesus – send him my way, and there’s an “AndAllThatSass” notepad in it for ya…


2013 Reasons to Die a Little Inside

It’s become evident that many of the men on dating sites haven’t been reading my handy tips on posting photos… so (because I know how helpful it is),
I’m going to post some reminders and suggestions to that end.  Think of these as the dating theses nailed to the cyber door.

Guys…pay close attention… heed my words and you’ll be on your way to digitally romantic success in no time.

You’re welcome.

 

1.  Rule number one… and I can’t stress this enough…
Consider your background.

The more outdated it is, the sexier you’ll be perceived.

Think – childrens’ bedrooms, grandmothers’ parlors, and ANYwhere that has a urinal (a classic).

These are optimal spots to set the mood for romance.

time warp

1986 called…

 

old lady wallpaper

LOVE the pink floral wallpaper.
And when I say “love,” I mean my grandmother would love it.

 

The Mickey Mouse poster on the ceiling is a NICE touch.

The Mickey Mouse poster on the ceiling is a NICE touch.

 

Urinal in full view – well-played, cowboy

 

2.  Instead of putting photos up of yourself, find random, loosely-related-to-your-life objects or scenes to post – to really paint a picture of who YOU are.

Pictures of a genuine smile have become pedestrian and archaic.
The nouveaux way is to express yourself through symbolism.  Really make this your own, guys.

Extra points for full audience confusion.
I mean, a photo of a dog says “I have a dog.”
A wad of cash says, “I wanna be a suga daddy.”
But, a random guy pouring drinks, says… um… “I like men?”…”I like to get drunk?” …either way, it’s sure to win her heart.

moms pinto 2001

Hey – at least it’s recent.
2001 feels like just yesterday.

money money money

You know, the LEAST you could do is face them all the same direction…

 

The blurry score really adds to the mystery.

The blurry score really adds to the mystery.

 

To clarify... the guy who posted this is NOT this man.

To clarify… the guy who posted this is NOT this man.

3.  Pick-up lines.

You CANNOT be too cheesy.

If it doesn’t sound like something someone would have said as part of a parody sketch, it probably isn’t magical enough to rope us in, fellas.

Ah, the 'ol alphabet line.  Never gets old.

Ah, the ‘ol alphabet line. Never gets old.

 

pick-up line 1

Is one of us a DOG in this scenario?

 

I hope YOU know CPR because I'll need help retrieving my eyeballs that just rolled back way too far...

I hope YOU know CPR because I’ll need help
retrieving my eyeballs that just rolled back way too far…

 

pick-up line 3

Just think…if reading my profile “lit up his world,” actually going OUT with me would probably kill him.

 

4.  Obscure, obscure, obsure.

If you insist on putting an actual photo of yourself on your profile, be sure to block out some part of your face, so that the women are left guessing what you truly look like.

Headless is best, but at the very minimum, hold your phone in such a way as to keep an essential body part from being seen.  Keep ’em guessing, soldiers…

I imagine him doing fish lips behind there... just because he seems like a guy full of ironic whimsy.

I imagine him doing fish lips behind there… just because he seems like a guy full of ironic whimsy.

 

Ah...the classic blinding maneuver.  Props, flash-man.

Ah…the classic blinding maneuver.
Props, flash-man.

 

Another great method - the head tilt.  All I really care about is your haircut and stud earring ANYWAY, so it works out.

Another great method – the head tilt. All I really care about is your haircut and stud earring ANYWAY, so it works out.

 

Another great way to 'mask' your true self

Another great way to ‘mask’ your true self

 

Covering/tilting his face was only half of the 8-mile nuance here... the up-the-nose angle and power lines add a certain je ne sais quoi that few can pull off.

Covering his face was only half the nuance here… the up-the-nose angle and power lines add a certain je ne sais quoi that few can pull off.

 

5.  This is SLIGHTLY off topic – but, just as important as your photos, is the name/handle you choose for yourself.  This represents you, so think long and hard about what it should be.

Obviously you want to misspell words…that almost goes without saying… but beyond THAT —

I recommend something creative like:  “TexasGuy69” (you can never go wrong with adding 69 on the end of anything.  Girls won’t clue in to the super hidden meaning, but subliminally it will make them hot for you).  Or maybe a complex and enigmatic approach, like “ImSingle” or “NeedADate.”

Your options are endless here.  Just as long as you stay away from actual descriptors, clever plays on words, family nicknames and conversation starters, you should be just fine.  Bonus points for making it overly sexual or ridiculously pathetic.

 

handle 1

 

handle 3

 

handle 2

 

handle 4

 

handle 5

 

metal slime

 

handle 6

Me make YOU use proper pronoun.
* beats on chest

6.  Avoid subtlety.

If you have a distinguishing trait you want women to know about – point it out.  Literally.  Point to it.  Or, at the very least, make it obvious by showcasing it in some way.  We are not very observant creatures, so the more conspicuous it is, the better.

Here are some examples.

This is the spot I purposely shaved off in the middle of my otherwise devilishly irresistible beard.

This is the spot I purposely shaved off in the middle of my otherwise devilishly irresistible beard.

 

I have a tattoo.  On my hand.  Where?  Right HERE!!!  See!??

I have a tattoo. On my hand. Where? Right HERE!!! See!??

 

I found the perfect moment between dressed and undressed to show you how tic-tac-toe worthy these abs are...

I found the perfect moment between dressed and undressed to show you how tic-tac-toe worthy these abs are…

 

7.  Lastly, if you can’t decide what your gimmick/niche will be…you can never go wrong posing for your photo op with a cuddly animal.  We’re women.  We love cuddly animals.
Cuddly animals, chocolate and sparkly things.
Heck, give me a “Best of Cat Fancy” calendar, and I’m yours for life.

So – set the bait with cuteness, and you can’t go wrong.  It definitely doesn’t emasculate you – that’s for certain.

pet the bunny

“Bring it in tight, don’t be shy…the interweb awaits”

 

"C'mon 'Mr. Snuffles'...climb up here and show the ladies what's what..."

“C’mon ‘Mr. Snuffles’…climb up here and show the ladies what’s what…”

 

There are more pearls of wisdom where those came from.  But I can’t go handing out all the nuggets at once.  Baby steps, men.  Baby steps.

 


The New Digs…

I just wanted to take a minute to address a few of the “first days in our new home” issues.  🙂

Some of you (quite a few) have commented about the difficulty of reading white text on a dark background.  I’ve heard your suggestions and I’m working on it.  So…don’t go anywhere!  The problem will be addressed soon. 

Next, others have had difficulty with resubscribing.  I’m also working on that and once I find a way to make it easy and user-friendly, I’ll let you all know.

If there are other issues I should be aware of, please don’t hesitate to fill out the “Ask Sarah” form and let me know. 

I want this site to be entertaining, fun and easy-to-read for everyone…so stick with me while we iron out the wrinkles. 

-sarah-


Ask Sarah – Raul’s Take

As I said yesterday, I polled several friends on the question I received through my website.

And as he’s often wont to do, Raul wrote down some of his thoughts/reactions.  I appreciated them, so I thought I’d post ’em.

So, here we go again – Raul speaks.  …

“Sarah, what is your perspective on dating before the ink is dry on the divorce papers. It has been a year since the decision to divorce was made and I have been living on my own for five months now. I’m worried that answering “separated” on my dating profile will get me overlooked. Answering “married” will most likely come off like someone trying to cheat. However answering “single” might end up backfiring when you eventually have to tell your date it isn’t official yet. Am I just over-thinking this or should I just wait till I’m officially divorced before pursuing any new relationships?”

I think this question is a lot more than what, on the surface, seems like a commandment-against-adultery issue.  It is a broader moral question that goes right to the foundation stone of all relationships – trust.

One thing that absolutely infuriates people is when one person in a relationship, knowing that they are or soon will be exiting that relationship, begins to secretly build a second one before the first has ended.  Is the current scenario so far removed just because the two original parties to the relationship have decided to call it quits?  Or because they have initiated some formal legal process?  Or because they have moved out to separate homes for some length of time?  Even though the facts are different on the surface, I believe the heart of it is the same.  Why?  Because “separated” is a misnomer.  Marriage, like pregnancy, is a binary proposition – you either are or you are not.  So let’s be honest about what “separated” really is:  unhappily married.

When you begin a secret second relationship while you’re married, we call it cheating…but just because someone starts a second relationship openly, in the light of day, doesn’t mean that the original marriage vow doesn’t exist.  It’s still infidelity (from the Latin fidelis, meaning faithful, loyal).  That infidelity is both a betrayal of the spouse as well as being unfaithful to the seriousness of your own promise.  The only difference about doing it openly is that you’re more honest and forthright about your willingness to break the vow.  Think about what that says about you to other people.

Ask your reader to put the shoe on the other foot – would he be impressed by a girl that marked ‘single,’ then revealed on the first date (or sometime later) that well, she’s actually married?  Probably not.  Would he find someone trustworthy that marked ‘separated,’ knowing that she didn’t take her marriage vow seriously enough to keep from dating before it had been truly dissolved?  I hope not.  If he were single would he consider dating a girl who marked ‘married’?  Never!  So if he wouldn’t like those qualities in someone else, would the right potential girlfriend value those qualities in him?

Now let’s think about this shoe-on the-other-foot scenario another way:  What are we searching for in a life partner?  Someone good.  Good down to their bones, not just someone who starts off seeming like a good thing.  So let’s stipulate that a good person is someone who recognizes and does – or certainly tries to do – the right thing in any given situation.  And what do we know about doing the right thing?  That doing the right thing is not always doing the easy thing.  In fact, you can often tell the right path by the very fact that it is harder.  The right thing is getting divorced before you start to date someone else.  Is it harder? Of course it is.  But that only bolsters my conviction that it is, indeed, the right thing to do.  The kind of person she should want to start a new relationship with is not the kind of person that will want to start something with a [happily or unhappily] married person.  I hate to say it, but unless he does the right thing and divorces first, he will most likely attract people who: 1) do not truly, deeply take marriage vows (and the trust that those relationship commitments are based on) seriously, and 2) do not place a high priority on other peoples’ goodness – their willingness to try to recognize and do the right thing.  The best girls out there will want to date someone that is truly single, and who strives to do the right thing…Why? Because they don’t want someone that is all- too-easily tempted to do the wrong thing (Like cheat!  See how it all goes in a circle here?).

OK, we’ve identified the right thing – If you want to start a new relationship, you should be single first, and that means getting un-married.  If both parties are truly serious about divorce (as opposed to even entertaining the possibility of getting back together), it’s tempting to say something like, “Just get it done already.  People let these things drag on for so long, and to no purpose.  Get. It. Done.”  But divorce is a complicated, many-faceted thing, and it is beyond the scope of this reader’s question to go into how, why, and whether such matters can be expedited, or done less expensively, etc.  Suffice it to say that each divorce is different, and contains a great deal of emotional processing that takes place outside the confines of a contract to divvy up various assets.  In the worst-case scenario, one ends up in a messy, protracted divorce proceeding.  Some might argue that that in itself is reason to let yourself begin something new – who knows how long ending the first relationship might take?  But would you want to begin a relationship with someone embroiled in that drama?  Of course not.  And if you’re the person in that drama, do you honestly believe you’d be a good relationship partner for someone else?  The fact is, doing so would be a selfish act:  Although you might feel better by starting a new relationship with some nice guy, you ultimately do a disservice to that person by sucking them into the maelstrom of your divorce.

Too long?   Then here’s my summary (which, of course, is also long):

1)     The reader should not be on a dating site.  Period.  Full stop.  I know – it’s so harsh!  But don’t think about it through the lens of what you’re giving up (all those smokin’ hot women with kitten pics!), think of the rewards he gets, instead:  1) He rewards himself by not giving in to temptation breaking his original vows.  Once you break them, you can’t go back – even if you’re the only one who knows – so why tempt yourself?  2) He rewards himself by not putting the divorce negotiations in a precarious position (in a bitter dispute, the wife’s knowledge of the dating could be used as leverage to alter key points – money, property, and especially custody arrangements, etc. because the adultery here [real or potential] casts him in a questionable moral light). 3) By not dating yet, he rewards himself by avoiding the bad girls – those who don’t value trust – because whoever he dates now won’t care about the fact that he is [unhappily] married (however handsome/charming/etc. she might otherwise be).  4) He is doing himself a favor by creating an impetus to finalize the divorce.  The sooner that ink is dry, the sooner he can begin to search for something new – think of it as a reward for doing the right thing.  And he will be attracting better women because of it – another reward!  5) He will also have the quiet pride of knowing that he did things the right way, in the right order – and that has a value all its own.

2)     If the reader insists on dating-while-separated, then the reader MUST state on his profile that he is married or separated, because that is the truth and anything else is at best a lie, at worst a gross and willful misrepresentation of the facts.  He is still married in the eyes of God and Man, and even if some people don’t care about the former, the latter still has plenty of repercussions on its own.  There is a social stigma attached to dating outside of marriage it for a reason!  (ex:  Would he want his kids teased at school because of it if gossip got out?)

3)     There is nothing wrong with meeting new people, building friendships, and socializing.  That is not out-of-bounds.  But the intimacy of a relationship – particularly the physical intimacy of holding, touching, kissing, and loving someone – should be built upon a solid foundation.  If you’re still married (however much you’ve managed to diminish the value of that marriage in your own mind), you are definitely NOT building on a solid foundation.

Well, that’s what Raul thinks, anyhow.  🙂


Ask Sarah – Dating While Separated?

ask sarah

As some of you have already seen, there is a spot on the new website to “Ask Sarah.”  This is the spot to write in any question/musing from the quick “He just texted me this:  [write out his text], …what should I text him back?” to bigger questions about love, relationships, dating, etc.

Sometimes I’ll write back just to you, other times (like today), I’ll use the question as fodder for a post.  In fact, today’s question has inspired TWO posts!

So, thank you to the first reader who used this tool, and wrote THIS question:

“Sarah, what is your perspective on dating before the ink is dry on the divorce papers. It has been a year since the decision to divorce was made and I have been living on my own for five months now. I’m worried that answering “separated” on my dating profile will get me overlooked. Answering “married” will most likely come off like someone trying to cheat. However answering “single” might end up backfiring when you eventually have to tell your date it isn’t official yet. Am I just over-thinking this or should I just wait till I’m officially divorced before pursuing any new relationships?”

Dear Limbo-land,

Being in this situation stinks.  I know because I was in it once.

I’ll tell you MY answer… and then let you hear from some other ‘voices’ as well.

You see, I had varying thoughts and angles on answering this, and found myself feeling a bit torn, because I can see it from both sides… so, while I was formulating my own response, I decided to poll a few wise folks to see what they thought too – I asked a pastor, counselor, a couple friends on the dating scene, a couple who are happily ‘taken,’ and all different ages.  I got a variety of answers – all different angles, but usually hitting the same spot on the target:

Don’t do it.  But, if you do – be completely honest.

So – I’ll give you my response and then post some of theirs at the end.

I think, as hard as it is, you can’t go wrong by waiting.  There are so many good reasons to wait until the divorce is official to start dating.  That said, I also recognize that there are some sticky-wickets/exceptions.

For instance, I know a man – a good man – whose wife became a drug addict and disappeared from his and the life of their two daughters.  He was left holding the bag (working, full-time single parenting, and figuring out if the marriage could be restored).  She cheated, left town, and hasn’t shown any interest in seeing him OR her daughters since.  He was assigned full custody of the girls, but the divorce kept getting pushed back because the judge REALLY wanted her present.  To the tune of over two years.  OVER TWO YEARS.  After the initial grieving of the loss of the marriage (which had begun long before she took off, as you can imagine), is he supposed to wait too?  Tricky stuff.

I only say all that to get at this point – this must be a case-by-case decision.

But, for MOST situations, I think the best and right answer is to wait to date.

From my own experience, people who think they’re ready… often aren’t.  I dated someone who wasn’t “officially” divorced yet… it was stuck in legal-land for over a year before movement happened.  And, even though the marriage was over, and he thought he was ready to love someone else, he had work to do – internal work, that is – that came back to bite us.  And in the end, he (by his own admission), had no business putting himself online when he did.  We were unequally matched, not by legal terms, but in our emotional readiness.

So, waiting on the divorce forces you to have time to do the necessary self-awareness check to see where you are in your own heart/mind/soul.
There is a difference between being DONE with the marriage and being READY for someone new.

This is a really important distinction and I think it’s why who many counselors encourage such a long time of no-dating after divorce.

You see, depending on the way the marriage ended (anywhere from the shocking quick end (“I met someone else.  I don’t love you anymore.  I’m leaving.”  Boom.) to the long, slow death of years of fighting or resentment, finally brought to an end by someone filing for divorce), you have varying timetables for grieving/mourning the marriage.  Some people will have done so much of this work during the time of separation/divorce, that by the time the ink IS dry, they’ve really come to terms with the death of the marriage.  Others need more.

But, regardless of how long the grieving process takes, there is a whole OTHER step, which is re-evaluating yourself as a man/woman preparing to date, and eventually LOVE again.

I mean – depending on how LONG you were married… you may be a different person, with different priorities and desires for a partner now.  You may need to spend some time reminding yourself of who you are, so you’re confident enough to not be that needy/clingy partner to the first person who shows you affection.  You might need to do some internal work (and I highly encourage working with a therapist as well… I hear they are AMAZING people… 🙂 ) on any areas of fragility/damage caused by your ex or issues with your ex.  There is so much to do to prepare to be the kind of person who is not only attractive to the opposite sex, but has the character to be a GOOD partner.

All of this can be going on when the “ink is drying.”  And you have the sweet benefit of knowing, when it’s all said and done, that you did the right thing by waiting.

You didn’t force a potential new partner to wonder if this is the way you live your life…in slightly deceptive waters.

You didn’t potentially complicate/lengthen the divorce process by looking possibly unfaithful.

You didn’t give your heart or body to another while your vows were still technically bound up with another.  If you said “til death do us part,” the least you can do is honor that by waiting for the death/dissolution of the marriage.

I realize all this is SO much easier said than done.  I was in this boat a few years ago and struggled with it myself.  But, being on this side of things, I am more firm that I ever was, that this is a difficult time, but a rich time for growth.  Don’t rush the dating.

I dare say a few months of uncomfortable limbo, will pay off exponentially in a future relationship when you can say you waited, and used that time to prepare for your new life…
and new love.

So, those are my thoughts.  Let’s hear from some others:

I wouldn’t give a second look at the profile of someone who is married or separated. But if someone who selected single was honest with me at our first date, I’d have no problem! I mean…that person is single and unattached, so it I isn’t a lie.”  -JW

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He’s wise and mature, recognizing that he is already divorced mentally if not on paper.  He’s been on his own for awhile.  And wants to be honest.  [That being said,…]

I guess I wonder, what’s the rush!  What just happened <divorce!> was HUGE and while I know we are all eager to move on, it takes time – and waiting for the ink to dry might be an important emotional/mental milestone.

This is a case by case situation.

Having dated a divorced person, I can speak to one woman’s perspective.  We began dating 3 months after the ink was dry. He had a meltdown about six months in.  He wasn’t ready.  At the risk of sounding naïve or patronizing, I think divorced folks should do a year or counseling / grieving / mourning before dating.  Let all the holidays and milestones pass as a single person before making memories with a new person.”   -CS

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Until the paperwork is complete there shouldn’t be any online date browsing. I put great stock in official status. …No shopping for new love until the divorce is official. 

Suppose the issue wasn’t divorce but terminal illness. Suppose one’s spouse is in hospice. Is it okay to go on a date since the marriage will soon be over?  Odd analogy, I’ll admit but marriage, like pregnancy, is either fully in progress or fully complete. There is no almost.”  -RG

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“Look ahead to the kind of woman you want to find/date/marry/etc. Is she the kind of woman who might see this as a deception? Or possibly unsavory? Or a story she would be ashamed to tell her family or friends? I don’t think there is a clear wrong or right here, but I would err on the side of caution and just delete your profile (or pause it) until the ink is dry. You’ll enjoy your dates much more if you can go into them without having to explain yourself before or during the date itself.”   -LI

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“We’re adults and adult relationships, by their nature, are complex.  He should mark “single” on his profile, but be VERY clear in the body of his profile about what’s going on.  He has to be honest.”   -TD

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“I think it’s likely that “separated” would get someone overlooked on dating sites, and I think that’s probably the “icing on the cake” reason why waiting until the divorce is final is a good idea. I think that the fact that there is still a legal marriage in play should put the kibosh on dating, as frustrating as I’m sure that is. Once the divorce is final, I think there is an important and fundamental change that occurs, on a meta-level you could say.

There might be some room for exceptions to dating someone you already know, who knows your situation and is a good friend and all that, before the divorce is final, but I think generally a “no dating until I’m single” mantra is a good one.”   -LJ

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And the last answer I got – from “Raul” (who some of you may remember from earlier guest posts) – was so good and thorough, that I’ve decided to post it on its own tomorrow.

So, “Dating while Separated,” I hope this helps narrow things down for you.  I suspect (though I’m often wrong), that deep down, you’d already decided what the right answer was, but just wanted some feedback to help you as you carried that out…

Stay tuned for more thoughts on this topic tomorrow, when Raul returns.