The first one is the latter half of the letter I addressed a couple weeks ago in Ask Sarah – Damaged Goods.
He asked the question:
I guess the crux of my point is this: Is the idea of finding your true soulmate too hard, in this instant age of Facebook, Twitter, eHarmony, and all the others?
The next letter came from a woman:
How do you endure such crappy dates and dissapointments and not give up on dating all together?
Every time I’m reminded again how dissapointing my choices are, I run away. I suspend my online accounts and vow to become an old cat lady.
How do you endure the dismal dates and continue forward with optimism?
I love how the automatic corollary to finding the love of your life is always to “become an old cat lady.” Really? That’s the exclusive alternative? That’s the spectrum? Love on one end, running a feline menagerie on the other?
(Ever notice how Cat “Woman” is sexy and powerful, but Cat “Lady” is old and pathetic? I digress.)
The questions above seem to be not only- why keep believing in the efficacy of online dating,… but how to stay optimistic at ALL.
But, really, I think the issue is less about optimism and more about HOPE.
Ok – full disclosure… I’ve typed and retyped this post several times now. And in the spirit of authenticity, I should tell you – I’m really struggling with answering this question!
It’s not because I can’t think of a “cool” way to say it…it’s because, until now, I don’t think I’ve given much thought to the question of – how DO I keep up hope? And is it the same as being optimistic? Or… is it something more?
Is it just my cheery personality? Am I just wired to be hopeful? Or maybe it’s something else…
Part of me wants to say:
The difference between optimism and hope is this– Optimism says, “It’s all gonna end up fine, no matter how the evidence suggests otherwise. The reality of this world is that there’s a lot of suffering.
But, hope – unlike just thinking that the glass always half-full – hope has an ace in the hole. Hope has the (and yes…this is going to sound uber cheesy, but just hang with me for a few minutes)… Hope has the power of the human heart. Oh gag… wow…even knowing where I’m going with this, that sounds way too blindly inspirational to stomach.
So, ok — it has to be something other than simply the “power of the human heart.” Because, while in moments of national tragedy, when I see people behave with unbelievable kindness and sacrifice… I also know that a day or two later, those same people are privy to the same crankiness and despair that plagues us all. The same human spirit that prevails over heartache, also yells at their children days later, or tells a lie to save face, or…any other transgression that misses the mark of true goodness. Goodness exists – but right along with our heart’s natural tendency toward selfishness and rebellion.
No…hope can’t JUST be a product of the strength of the human heart…
So then another part of me wants to say:
I have hope because I believe God has someone for me. And surely he wouldn’t have created me with such big love in my heart only to let it stagnate with only a handful of cats to be the final recipients of my affection. Right?
But that argument breaks down really quickly …after all, he allowed me to be divorced, and that sucked pretty hard. And there are lots of lonely people out there – people HE created – who don’t ever find the love story they so desire. And then you get into the whole problem of evil …God doesn’t save millions of people from starvation and illness … how could I believe that I have some kind of relationship insurance just because he loves me?
No…there’s something more to hope. (Plus, I really don’t want to get into a theological debate in today’s post).
I dare say we are CREATED to be hopeful people. That doesn’t mean that it always works out the way we want. But, maybe HAVING hope IS the good thing. Getting what you want is just icing on the cake. Maybe the very virtue of being hopeful keeps us alive… I mean really alive.
And maybe all we’re ‘supposed’ to do – is ‘keep the faith’…that is, make choices for love, rather than out of fear?
Ultimately my answer may not satisfy some, but here it is:
I have hope because I HAVE to have hope.
For me… there really is no other option. Those Friday nights where I’m sitting alone on my couch and I feel those lonely thoughts creep in… the “I sure would like to have someone special here to snuggle up with me” thoughts…
should I just resign myself to that? Is that the answer?
If it comes down to surrendering to a life of loneliness or holding out hope that there’s someone out there for me… someone that can push past the insanely picky parameters I’ve set…then I have to choose hope every time.
So – yes – it’s a tautology…but that’s the best I can come up with – for ME, that is. I am a hopeful romantic. Hopeful because…I choose to be. I have to be. I’m not ready to succumb to a life of cats JUST yet. (Don’t get me wrong…I like cats… I just like the idea of a handsome man a bit more…)
And that brings us back to – can it be found online? And…what about all the bad dates?
Well – I don’t know if online is the answer…I just know it provides a filter that you can’t find anywhere else.
I’m still open to other things…
like friends setting me up. Ahem…
FRIENDS SETTING ME UP! hint…hint…
…as well as just meeting someone organically – at a bar, at church, at the DMV…. ha! Kidding…just seeing if you’re paying attention. Do NOT go out with anyone you meet at the DMV…..lawsa mercy…
So – let’s just say that the online option is just that – AN option…that’s all. It’s one of many avenues to potentially finding the one.
And as for the bad dates…well….THIS is why I blog. It’s a great outlet to vent my frustration and once I verbally vomit my misfortune all over all of YOU…. I can move on to being the hopeFUL romantic I naturally am. And hey – for every few bad dates, there’s a good one. May not be THE one… but good nonetheless.
I guess, in the end – bad dates, abysmal online profiles and photos, and all other manner of dating discouragement – are not enough to dissuade me from the necessary hope I have.
And here’s hoping it continues long enough for me to find a couch-snuggler of my own.
No, really – CALL ME!
As a follow up to my earlier post on beauty/attractiveness, I thought I’d share the results of my experiment… (if you didn’t read that post…check it out here.)
While I was waiting to hear if I made the cut or not, I got several e-mails telling me various men around the world were “checking out my profile.” Cool!
I clicked on them out of curiosity, and sure enough….VERY handsome.
I mean….the stuff of magazines.
Well-groomed, muscular and fit, heart-melting smiles full of perfectly aligned white teeth…the kind of teeth that say, “I never lie and I’ll rub your feet while we watch cheesy TV…”
…what? Don’t teeth ever speak to you?
But their profile essays… were hilariously less than gripping.
They’d say things like… “I like to do things.” Thanks, boo…that really fills in the gaps for me.
So, I’d already decided that if I made it in – I’d have a good laugh, possibly brag about if for the next few years and then move on. Ok…no “possibly”…I’d definitely brag about that.
But I knew I wouldn’t really DO anything with it. I don’t want to meet a man on a site like that… a site entirely focused on the external. As much as I love decorating the outside (accessories, scarfs, fun makeup, cute shoes…all great fun), it’s so fleeting. And at the end of the day, I’ll gladly cuddle up on the couch with a 6.9 who’s intelligent, funny and thoughtful – long before I’d hitch my wagon to a vapid 9.
I’d also decided that if I DIDN’T make it… I would be ok with that – because only 20% of people do. So – I should be content with hanging with the other 4 outta 5… right?? RIGHT?
And hey – the REST of the world-wide-web thinks me an 8.333…and that ain’t bad…?
But what happened was…. well – two things. Two responses to my beauty or lack thereof. And oh, what a difference the second one made.
Yup… I, along with 80% of all those who try …did NOT make it into BeautifulPeople.com. Alas….’tis true.
Their rejection e-mail let me down gently, but still. Ouch.
But that same day… I got another piece of ‘mail’
…from my six-year-old daughter – completely unbidden.
This was on the inside of her birthday card to me:
I love everything about this.
I love that she had no idea that I was gunning to get into the beauty pageant of online dating.
I love that she got the order right….first the character – THEN the beauty.
And I love that she KNOWS me…and thinks I’m beautiful.
The website doesn’t know me. The men who “checked” me out can only see one thing – my face. My daughter can see everything. Kids can even see beyond pretense and fake smiles. They sense it all. They know when I’m flying at half-mast and when I’m frustrated…when I’m sad… when I need a hug. My 6-year old knows the real Sarah…and she thinks I’m beautiful. And – even to my own surprise – that’s enough for me.
So, I guess beauty really IS in the eye of the beholder…and that brings me a great deal of comfort. I WANT the man I’m with to think I’m the most gorgeous woman in the world….because of who I am. I want my sassy energy and irreverent sense of humor and huge heart to win me his adoration…not my winning smile (though I’m hoping that’ll help…).
Don’t hear me say that looks don’t count. I mean, heck…this all started because I’ve found myself being vain in this regard. The only reason my friend even asked me what I thought my number was, was because I told him I am quick (too quick?) to turn men down because I don’t find them attractive.
Looks matter…they just don’t matter MOST.
In the end… as much as it’s become trite to say so… beauty really isn’t just what’s on the outside. Sure, I’m gonna keep wearing sparkly lip gloss and picking out cute outfits and looking my best on the exterior. But, the things I value most in a man are qualities like – intelligence, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, etc. …I want him to be handsome, of course, but that finds itself much lower on the list. And if that’s true for who I date… I suppose it has to be true for whoever dates me. You’ll be getting an imperfect body… but a pretty sweet deal on the rest.
So – the members of BeautifulPeople.com can have each other. I don’t want ’em.
I want people who see me the way my daughter does.
As I write this… I’m no longer 36. *a single tear streams down her resigned, still face*
Ah…36 – such a lovely number.
Now I’m a pokey, harsh, unwelcoming 37.
37…such an ugly number. A number not divisible by any other… alone. Old.
And definitely sliding dangerously close into the “late thirties.” Sigh…
But, I’m happy. Is it because I woke up to a bunch of Facebook “Happy Birthdays?” Yes. Ok, but not JUST that. (Oh, but let’s be honest… you don’t WANT those to matter because, after all, they’re just people who saw your name pop up in their newsfeed and threw out a simple two word phrase… perhaps even out of obligation or to avoid guilt. But,try as you might, you can’t help feelin’ the love when you scroll through the list of people who’ve taken the time – even if just a moment – to acknowledge you… feels good.)
No, I’m happy because – despite the world being full of disappointment (i.e. the bulk of my experience in online dating), I somehow have hope. I’m not going to use this post to explain how or why I still do – I’m saving that for a longer write-up.
But, what I do know is – the world of online dating, though it has brought it’s fair share of smh moments and fist pumps, has also brought some of the most amazing people into my life.
Tomorrow night I’m hosting a party – (and yes – if you live in the Houston area, you are WELCOME to come!) – and at least 60% of the people coming out to celebrate my birthday with me, are friends with me because of online dating. They’re either men I’ve met and befriended, after we realized we weren’t romantically matched, or women I’ve met at social functions sponsored by Match.com and others, or friends OF those friends who I wouldn’t otherwise know.
In the last year, these friends and I have done all of this and more together:
– mafia/20’s gangster themed birthday party
– luau with a whole pig
– game nights
– family dinners
– pub trivia
– dancing …SO much dancing!
– foodie exploration
– toga pub crawl
– housewarming parties
– Houston beer fest
– crawfish boil
– trampoline dodgeball
– family Christmas party
– speed-dating event
– beach days
– trip to Austin
– comedy shows
– nerf gun war
The ‘ol interwebs may not have brought me the love of my life …yet.
But it HAS brought me some of the dearest friendships I’ve ever known. These are people who love me, love my kids, and have filled in as my second family. And I’m so thankful!
So today, on a day that merits some reflection and gratitude… I’m happy to report that I’m happy.
That… though I think 37 may be the ugliest number of them all (c’mon…it really is…right?),
I am a woman blessed with the sweetest community.
Happy Birthday to me.
A friend of mine and I were hanging out the other night
and he point-blank asked me what I thought my number was.
Ok – let me clarify for those who don’t instantly know what I’m talking about.
Regardless of how shallow and tacky it is – we all size each other up based on different qualifications and characteristics. ONE of those is looks. It just is. We can regurgitate all day long the cliched idea of beauty being on the inside… but at the end of the day – you DO care what someone looks like.
Now, different people care different amounts.
Some people have a high tolerance for homeliness if the personality is winning enough.
Others have a harder time seeing past the proverbial warts to the heart of gold underneath. We’re all somewhere on the scale.
But we ALL have a number cutoff.
So, it goes like this – the scale is from 1-10, with 1 being ugly and 10 being gorgeous. It’s obviously subjective… so, while I may say Jason Bateman is a 10, you might call him an 8. …..Oh, who are we kidding… no one thinks he’s an 8. That’s just crazy talk.
But you get the gist…
Anyway…back to my story –
in that moment of decision… I was at a loss as to what to say! Which is really saying something. Or….not.
I mean… if we’re factoring in personality… I think the number’s pretty high.
But, looks alone? Well…. I’m much more curvy than I’d like, but I have a decent smile… my skin isn’t perfect, but I have pretty hair,…
all kinds of thoughts are running through my mind at this moment while my friend is awaiting my answer.
If I’d been having this conversation with my best friend (a girl) or my mom… I could’ve given a higher number and they’d reply, “that’s right – you’re great!” In fact, if I’d given anything but a 9 or 10, I can hear either of them chiding me, “Sarah Stone! Stop that! You’re amazing!!”
But this is a guy. A red-blooded, straight, normal guy… he’s not going to come back with, “awww sweetie, no! You’re WAY higher than a….[fill-in-the-number].”
But time was slowly dripping along and I had to answer.
So I went with nice solid “7.”
“I’d say I’m a….. 7…?” He didn’t flinch or wince…so that must’ve been close!? Or he’s just really nice.
But it got me thinking. What number AM I? How do guys see me? And… is it REALLY all about looks?
Even in a brief one-minute conversation, someone can tell enough about your personality to sway that number a bit, right?
And surely enough of my personality comes across in my online profile to bring my ‘number’ up a bit… right?
And… if I AM a seven… does that give me the right to only date 7’s and higher? Maybe I don’t get to be as picky as I have been. SO many questions!
So I went to the ultimate authority on all things….
the source of all true wisdom in this world. …
Internet, internet – on the wall
Who’s the ‘better than average’est of them all?
….tell me …am I pretty?
I completed a series of quizzes to rate me on a scale of 1-10. I figured the most reliable method would be to average at least 3 scores – like a credit report. One test came back reporting I was “smokin’ hot”…and though I appreciated the ego boost…it didn’t much help in the numbers game.
But the next three gave me cold hard data. You know….scientifically collected and bias free. Ahem…
(And …side note – these quizzes are written TERRIBLY. They’re chock full of grammatical and spelling errors… presumably all written by drop-dead gorgeous, but dumb-as-nails people.)
So…. there you have it. The interwebs say I’m a nice clean “8.333…..”
Not shabby! That’s 1.333 higher than I’d given myself.
But I wasn’t satisfied. These were pedestrian quizzes, probably created by lonely teenagers during their homework period. What real proof is that? I needed more.
So, next I filled out the OKCupid “Attractiveness Quiz.” I figured they had lots of data on me anyway – my photos and stats, numbers of views/messages from guys, etc.
And here’s what they had to tell me…
AAaaaaahhhh….mediocre. Every woman’s dream.
I may have to put that on my profile.
“Hey fellas….you wanna get with someone who’s just so-so? I’m your girl.”
Awesome. (Ego takes a nosedive at least 1.333 points…)
Ok, ok… to be honest, this didn’t really rock me that much… since many of the questions were judging me on things that I value, but the world does not. Some of the questions had to do with sexual promiscuity, etc. I answered pretty conservatively, so that clearly makes me less
Next, I took an attractivity (is that even a word?) poll… and got these results:
This tells me what I already thought to be true about myself –
– Poor, and
– Not too hard to look at.
Yup – that’s me.
But it STILL… wasn’t satisfying. I mean… all of this “data” is based on my word. They say, “tell us what you look like,” and I TRY to be as objective as possible. I don’t claim to be skinny. I know what’s what. I claim it. But apparently in not having any piercings and being average height – already puts me in the top half and claiming to have a winning smile takes me ALL the way to mediocre.
So – where could I go to have someone REALLY tell me how I stack up on that oh-so-important scale of physical beauty alone?
That’s right. It’s a thing.
It’s a dating and social/business networking site that only allows attractive people to be members.
And according to wikipedia, only 20% of applicants make it in. Awesome sauce.
Cuddly? Haha…love it.
I filled out all the demographic information. Next…
I used one from the last year – that shows the whole body – in the hopes of providing FULL disclosure.
Ok, fine, I MIGHT have been wearing spanx in that photo, but come on… tell me that lion wasn’t sportin’ a little shapewear too…
Now I wait.
For 48 hours.
To let the world of beautiful people judge and rate me… and ultimately decide if I make the cut.
I feel like I’m back in high school just HOPING there’ll be a spot for me at the cool table. (In case you’re wondering… there never was.)
So…….. will I be pretty enough for the shallow world’s approval? And what will those results TELL me?
If I make the ‘team,’ does that mean I can be MORE picky?
If I don’t… does that mean I’ll change my personal assessment of myself?
Well, obviously not. It’s not going to change what I know to be true about myself. But, it will be an interesting foray into the world of vanity. A social experiment, if you will.
So – DRUMROLL…….
Did I make it in?
You’ll have to wait another day to find out! Stay tuned for part II………
I’ve decided to throw a few posts in here and there, that have little or nothing to do with the world of dating… but are simply the musings and stories of this single mama as she roams this crazy world. They’ll be full of the snarky commentary you’ve grown used to…never fear.
I’ve recently had to admit something to myself …a hard truth to swallow, but true nonetheless.
I am a Target girl in an Anthropologie world.
(For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Anthropologie is a hipster-bohemian retail store that sells exorbitantly priced clothing and home goods. It’s Neiman’s prices meet Uzbekistan Tribal-chic styles.
There ya go. Wikipedia ought to use that definition.)
I WANT to love Anthropologie…
I really do.
I want to be cool.
When people say – “neat twig necklace – where’d you get it?” I want to say, with the appropriate amount of apathy in my voice, “Anthro.”
But the answer is usually actually something like, “Walgreens.”
The truth is – I love the fantasy of Anthropologie. And they’re so darn GOOD at creating that.
Masterful photography for their catalogue sets the most gloriously bohemian scapes… who wouldn’t want to sleep on a pillowy bed in the woods, carry a camel-hair-covered satchel and sample the vegan stews at some fantastic Morrocan outdoor market?
Anthropologie has cultivated such a delicious delusion, that you can’t help but WANT to be the kind of woman who pays $2,800 for a chair that looks like a melted chocolate blob. (You can’t make this junk up, friends. Call it “resin,” and then, surely no one will think of poo…)
But what they’ve done is exactly that. They’ve created a fantasy world…one where, after walking into a showroom that smells of exotic essential oils expertly mixed with cozy lavender, with an archway made entirely of a Suessian stack of books, and showcasing their wares on paper maiche sheep…, you can’t help but drink the kool-aid.
I understand that this is the JOB of marketing – to sell a fantasy. But Anthropologie has taken this to a whole new level. They’ve done such a bang-up job of making this bizzare world sing with the illusion of normalcy, that you actually believe once you don a $300 dress that looks an awfully lot like one you could get for $14 at JCPenny, that you’ll be transported into a vacation world where all your cares are swept away with the waves lapping at your adorably sandaled feet while you drink some fantastic concoction that the locals swear will take years off your life. Or, at the very least, your co-workers will think you’re trendy.
And that’s something.
And, don’t get me wrong… my 15%-off Birthday coupon just arrived in the mail and I fully plan to use it on some oh-so-subtlely pretentious piece of jewelry that will razzle and dazzle all who interact with me. So, I don’t claim to have any moral high ground here. I’m a sheep. I like breezy bed canopies and batik-style scarves as much as the next fauxhemian. But, I’m poor enough to recognize the brainwashing – that’s all.
Perhaps because it’s the same thing that happens in the world of dating – people put on the mask of what they think you expect and desire…while underneath, they’re just as ridiculous a match for you as is a vase where the flowers come out of deer ears.
And in the end, what matters most isn’t necessarily whether you decide to buy-in to the fantasy… it’s just whether you can admit there’s a strong ribbon of ridiculosity running through the middle of it all.
SO, yes… Much of what they have to offer is pretty and adorable and all manner of Hobo-Fabulous…
But then…there’s this:
Even having grown up near the beach in Florida and seeing the copious kitch that can be made with seashells (both real and fake), … even I am shaking my head at this barnacled mess….
How does one even pick this UP?
I think they’re selling botched pre-k art projects…which calls to mind all sorts of child labor legalities…
If you needed a multi-colored witch’s claw…
you’ve come to the right place.
I can’t decide if it’s a decorated chicken foot to be used for bourgeois VooDoo dealings, or a decorated antler for the wives of hunters who can’t stomach the idea of dead things in the home unless they’re at LEAST gilded and dressed up in Gator colors.
Who doesn’t love drinking out of a decapitated elephant?
Just knowing my chai latte is pouring forth from this finely crafted carcass, is all the macabre I need.
Don’t worry – the accompanying Amish bonnet in eye-piercing green is coming out in the winter line.
If you’ve ever had a time in your life when you wanted to shell out $700 for a creepy-as-all-getout lamp – you’re in luck. Come home to this in the wee hours and be welcomed by medusa’s head swinging from your dining room ceiling.
Complete with authentic Guiness-Book-of-World-Records fingernail craftmanship.
There really are no words.
This poor bunny. She looks like the very essence of Parisian style and grace. Tragically, she was tricked into putting on a blindfold, likely under the auspices of throwing a suprise party, …but the suprise was a rabbit lynching.
Seriously – my children can make prettier art. A LOT prettier.
And – to add insult to injury, we’ve paired this with a hungry wolf to protect your butter in style. Maybe that’s why the one bunny looks crazed… she fears for her life.
Here’s a hard candy with fringe, sewn together with a twistie tie – and we call it $218 worth of style. Don’t believe me? Check it out.
At the end of the day – lots of their stuff is pretty. And from time to time, as my budget allows, I will definitely enjoy strolling through their shops, hoping some adorable Bohemian tunic will be on sale and in my size.
But a lot of it – and I mean…a lot – is either bizarre, ugly, silly, or so overpriced that it’s laughable – wrapped up with the bow of a different life it promises.
It’s a fantasy.
Listen – I can glue a Werther’s Original to a bracelet cuff and charge you $218, but what for? You wouldn’t buy that! Meanwhile, Athropologie has created a small universe of escape so alluring that you’re hypnotized into thinking that’s beautiful. They can offer you the hope of what your life COULD be like… I can only offer you the cynical scraps of reality. (And a piece of jewelry that’ll help you make it all the way through your investment meeting).
So, I applaud Anthropologie and the world they’ve created. They deserve every penny they bring in. But, let’s not fool ourselves – at the end of the day, there are a lot of witch claws out there. Just like life… just like the world of online dating… but that’s a story for another day.
(All images in this post are directly from Anthropologie online or their catalog.
Also – my birthday is coming up and I could really use a headless elephant mug to soothe the painful passage of time… I’m just sayin’…)