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Dating Advice

I Need Some Space…

 

So...tell me... what do you like about ME?  Hold on...let me just get this text...

So…tell me… what do you like about ME? Hold on…let me just get this text…

A friend of mine (married) recently chuckled as he said, “Oh I love that one story about the guy who went on a date with you and didn’t ask you anything about you.  That’s my favorite.”  I looked at him in complete deadpan calm and said, “That’s EVERY date.”

Truth is… the NUMBER one thing men do wrong on dates (are you paying attention, guys?  This is it!  You’re always asking and I’m here to tell you) – is using all the time to talk about themselves and never investing in getting to know the woman.  Not engaging at all in getting to know who I am.

And I’ve tested this a bit.  When on a date with a guy and having realized we’ve spent the last 10 minutes talking about him (partly because I ask…I really do want to learn about him!), I’ll use a counseling trick and let us sit in up to 30 seconds of silence (which, on a first date, is a LIFETIME, by the way) to see if he’ll fill the uncomfortable quiet with something meaningful.  And 9 times out of 10, it’ll end with me having to pick the conversation back up with, yet, another question for him.

"Ok, champ.  You're gonna be great tonight.  Just tell her all night long what a catch you are... you'll have her begging for more by dessert."

“Ok, champ. You’re gonna be great tonight. Just tell her all night long what a catch you are… you’ll have her begging for more by dessert.”

I’ve even tried just inserting facts about myself into conversation, unbidden.  He’ll finish a story about his family and I’ll say something overwhelmingly smooth, like, “speaking of families, I’m the oldest of four kids…my dad’s a pastor…”… and then wait as the crickets play their symphony of discomfort around us.

A few times when the guy texted the next day to ask for another date after a first date I wasn’t thrilled with…I’d explain that I felt like he wasn’t particularly interested in getting to know me.  One time, a guy came back with, “I know ALL about you!  You’re the oldest of four kids!  Your dad is a pastor!”
Good job, detective.  You pieced that together from me TELLING YOU, did you?  Sigh…

I suppose this isn’t just a male problem, per se… it’s a cultural problem that plagues us all – men and women.

We are increasingly self-absorbed and unaware.  (which is a paradoxical combination, if you think about it.)

blog - spaceOne of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is walking into a building/store/restaurant in front of you and instead of holding the door open for an extra 2 seconds to allow you in, they let it slam behind them.  As if you weren’t even there.
#rude
And don’t talk to me about how chivalry is dead.  Letting the door shut on the girl behind you goes way beyond chivalry (which, I don’t actually think has all the way died.  It may be on life support, but there are still a few gentlemen out there opening doors and telling women they look pretty.  Not many…but they’re out there.)

No – the reason people don’t hold doors open or ask questions on dates is, I think, not because we’re losing our sense of good manners…but we’re losing our sense of SPACE.

My brother posited a theory which I’m loving more and more (well…not LOVING in its application, but in its wisdom).  He said… as we become increasingly drawn to the small space between our eyes and our smartphone, we’ve become ONLY aware of that small field of vision… so much so that, even if you’re not currently looking at your phone, you’ve trained yourself to be unaware of anything outside that zone of attention.  The world, for all intents and purposes, is invisible.

I think he’s right.

"This is the perfect date... she's not bugging me and getting in the way of my defending my clan from that annoying 5th grader who's always attacking..."

“This is the perfect date… she’s not bugging me and getting in the way of me defending my clan from that annoying 5th grader who’s always attacking…”

As technology has grown, our awareness has narrowed.  Noticing the beauty and peculiarity and intrigue around us has been replaced with apps that do just about anything we could ever want or need.  No need to even make eye contact with the Starbucks barista… just swipe your phone and move along.  If you play it just right, you might not even have to stop your game of Trivia Crack to get your drink.  Walking to your car after grocery shopping?  No need to look up… just use your app to find your car and then let another app tell you what route to take to your next location.  Heck… there are apps to tell you how you slept and if it was a particularly restless night and your phone got lost in your sheets, just use your FitBit to find it.

I have no problem with technology, mind you.  I love all my nifty apps.  But, it seems if we want to have things/people in our life that MATTER, we’re going to have to make a concerted effort to look up from our screens and see the world around us… engage with it… ask it some questions.  I know I’m not the first person to say this.  But, I contend that this issue is part of what makes people BAD at dates.

You see…as the space we ‘live’ in has narrowed, so has our scope of interest and awareness.  It’s like we’ve trained ourselves to only care about what’s right in front of us…what’s easily accessed… what doesn’t take any work or energy on our part.

Not only that… but our smartphones haven’t just made us stupid about things like mapping your way to a new location, but even knowing yourself.  People depend so much on devices telling us what to do, where to go, what’s funny, what’s trending…that we spend less time in self-reflection and self-awareness.  And if we can’t even be self-aware (a very sexy quality in a date, by the way), then how ever will we manage being “other aware?”

I suppose if all you’re interested in is getting me into bed, plying me with the drinks and talking about yourself all night might actually work.  (I don’t know…that’s not really my thing).

But if what you want, ultimately, is to make a meaningful connection with someone and build the relationship to a place where it brings you pleasure and a deep-down satisfaction, …then you’re going to have to KNOW me.  There’s no getting around it.  So, why not start from the beginning?  Move your attention from your virtual smartphone and engage the world around you….or at least across the table from you.

It’s easy to do.  Ask questions!  Anything, really.  People love to talk about themselves, so you don’t even have to be particularly clever…just provide the conversational springboard and let narcissism do the rest.

The world of first dates would be infinitely different if people could begin to look away from their smartphones, look inside themselves, and then look at me.  Eyes up here, folks.

 


Love Kills

Warning – the following blog post is wrought with reverse sexism.  It’s a joke, people.  Please don’t comment about how I’m setting women’s rights back. 

 

Recently, I’ve had a bit of a bug problem.  Gross, huh?  Well – it’s all fixed now, but when I was texting my landlord about it, I was joking with her that she could either call an exterminator or, …find me a man.  A man who will kill bugs for me.

* Swoon *

Well, I’m still waiting on the man (thanks a LOT, Glenda… geez…what do I even pay you rent for?), but we did get to talking about how many dates you’d have to go on to be able to ask for such favors.  I propose that a girl should be able to ask for such things on date 1… as part of the sizing-up process.  You see… there’s lots of different methods for disposing of 6 and 8-legged creatures (yes, yes, I know spiders aren’t technically insects… You can spare me the science lesson on thoraxes and such… but if they’re an abomination (which spiders CLEARLY are), they count toward my thesis…and they need to die), and the way a man kills them tells you tons about him. 

 Bug Killing Personalities:Bug killer

1.  The “Squash and Scram”
This is the guy who rides in on his noble steed, who bravely vanquishes the befouled beast, and then leaves you to …clean up the guts?

Guh….ross.  
Where is the chilvalry?  Where is the sacrifice?  The guts clean-up is the worst part.  Nay – it is the essential part.  It’s that “fashion a giant mitt of paper towels to mop up all manner of pest entrails and juice, whilst fighting back the bile creeping up your throat” moment that begs for a big strong man who will smash it, and conceal all evidence.
That’s the stuff of fairy tales.

2.  The “ ‘If you Love it, Set it Free’ Bug Hippy”

We all know these people.
They take that whole “why he wouldn’t even hurt a fly” thing WAY too seriously.
They’re the ones tenderly corralling the 4-foot cockroach into your good Tupperware (which now has to be burned), only then to liberate it from it’s hu
man home-shaped prison, back into the wild where mother nature intended. 

Nuh-uh. 

The only catch-and-release program happening in my home, is the one for the guy who won’t actually kill the bug.  ‘Cause I know what happens….. that bug, once emancipated, goes and tells all its horrid little friends about the mean lady who was scowling and rolling her eyes while the knight in shining armor rescued it from its certain death…. And then they conspire to come and get me in the night. 

Yup…I’m fairly certain I have my finger on the pulse of the bug community and this is exactly how it goes down.  Town meetings, assembling a quorum, grabbing their tiny pitchforks and storming the castle of my bedroom to call down their reign of terror.  So – if you’re going to set it free… you might as well just keep walking.  Your alleged mercy is my impending doom.

 

Bug Killer 3

3.  The “Girly-Girl Trapped in a Man’s Body”

(if it wasn’t already anti-feminist before…buckle up) 

Look – I want a man who kills a bug like it’s built into his DNA.  …Like it’s no big deal or better yet, like he enjoys protecting me from the multi-legged menaces.  I don’t want someone to cower or whimper or scream like a girl while performing bug murder.  (I’m not making it up – I’ve had two significant men in my life who would literally scream while taking care of an unwanted critter). 

75% of the bug killing’s purpose is to actually exterminate the invaders.
The other 25% is to display his bravery, so I’ll practically faint with adoration. 

I’m being silly, but there’s something to this… I’ve watched as friends of mine handily kill and dispose of a bug and I find my insides getting all squishy with desire.  Recently a friend killed a spider outside my house and I think I may have audibly moaned.  Yup.  That happened.

So, if he winces and eeks in fear, I’m still glad for the insect death, but I’m not going to pounce on him for a smooch either.

 

4.  The “Half-Hearted Warrior”

This is the guy who doesn’t really get what the big deal is.
You’ll find out who these men are when faced with the bugs who get away…
you know – one of those “I just saw him, but I don’t know where he went” moments. bug killer 2

Guys – we want a man who will go on the hunt – for LOVE!  I mean… er… for the bug.  If you say, “well, I don’t see it now…” and sit down on the couch expecting my affection to resume at the same level where we left off… you are sadly mistaken. 

See, the importance of my happiness to you is directly correlated to how long and how hard you’ll search to end the little devil’s life.  Will you move a couch?  Will you look under a bed?  Will you lie in wait for the creature to think he’s bested you and leave his hiding place, only to suffer your wrath?  Now THAT’s romance.

 

I could go on, but I think we get the idea. 

There are a few things you have to experience with a significant other – to truly know whether it’s a good fit.  Dance with ‘em, play Monopoly, have them meet your parents, and maybe most importantly …see if/how they’ll kill bugs for you.

Look…this life is hard.  If I can find some small measure of solace in the strong arms of a bug killing man… is that too much to ask?

Kill bugs.  Kill ‘em good.  Clean ‘em up, and come back to claim your reward.  Rrrrrr….


Making a Donkey out of U-M-E

The other night I was playing the radio game with some friends.  (If you’ve never played the radio game, you should remedy that posthaste.  It’s great car-trip fun.)
Anyway – on one song, my friend named the artist before I did, and in his excitement, put up his hand for a high-five (for his amazing musical catch).
Without even thinking about it, I slapped his hand in reciprocal excitement…only to then think, “wait…why am I celebrating his win?  He’s my opponentHe’s the enemy!”
So, why did I high-five him?

assume 7
Simply because he put his hand up!

And it’s human nature to respond.
I’m basically just a sheep, blindly following non-verbal commands…even if it means praising my adversary.

And while that’s fine for me and a buddy playing the radio game, its more insidious counterpart in the dating world…isn’t so fine.
But it happens ALL the time.

 

assume 3

Men and women both do this – me make assumptive gestures – in words and actions – and on a date, it’s hard not to return the metaphorical hi-five.

Picture this… you’re 5 minutes into a date and the girl makes a comment about how you’re going to just LOVE her parents….
Um…what?

Or, before you’ve even finished your first drink, the guy is planning your next date.
Come again?

 

This is an issue I keep encountering in my own dating life… men who assume.  (And we all know what happens when you assume…)

Everyone jokes that women all do this – practically plan out your wedding before you’ve closed out date one.  But, I’ve experienced it recently, comin’ from the menfolk too.  It’s not just us girls.

These are the guys who, by their references and actions, presume all manner of things…about a level of mutual attraction that isn’t necessarily there.

There are two main forms this unrequited “we have a real future together” attitude comes in:  verbal and physical.

Verbal

This includes, but is not limited to…

making plans to do things or visit places together, inlcuding international travel
     “Oh, you haven’t seen the new Mummy exhibit at the Science museum?  We’ll HAVE to go…”
     “Well – you’re going to LOVE the margaritas in Cabo… you’ll see…”

speaking about meeting family and attending family functions
     “That’s totally something my mom would say!  She’s gonna love you.”
     “You haven’t experienced St. Patrick’s Day ’til you’ve spent it with my crazy family.  You’ll see.”

talking about what kind of house you want to live in, how many kids you could have together (or how to blend your existing kiddos), who would move to the others’ place, etc.

assume 6I was on a date recently with a sweet guy.  We were hardly 15 minutes into our date… as in – the food hadn’t even been ordered yet – and he was pulling up photos of RV’s we could use for future camping trips.
(Now, a caveat – most men, when they hear that I don’t like to camp, always want to win me over… so, this isn’t THAT strange, but when he continued on later in the evening, showing me more spacious and convenient road-living options… it was too much.
Really – ANY talk of RV’s is too much.)

 

 

Physical

These are tricky in first-date land.  Because everyone comes in with a different set of rules and limits on what they will/won’t do on a first date.  Will you hold hands?  Snuggle?  Hug?  Kiss?
These are already sticky wickets for 2 people who LIKE each other…but what about a date you’re just ‘enduring?’assume 4

Assumptive posturing in the physical arena may look like:

Putting your arm around my shoulder

– Opening up your hand to you, as if to say, “hold this”

– Leaning in eagerly, and oh-so-expectantly for a kiss.

These (and more) are all things that it’s hard to NOT reciprocate, without feeling like a 1st-class jerkface.

Say you’re watching a show/concert/movie and a guy puts his hand, open/face-up on your knee… …what would you do OTHER than hold it?  Give him an akward low-five?
Put a Werther’s in it and give him a friend-zone-worthy smile?
Cross your legs at that exact moment, as if you didn’t even notice his hand there, and watch his arm fall off with a thud?
Shoot him that “not gonna happen, buddy” stare?  (Seems harsh!?)

assume 5This happened to me recently on a date… I wasn’t feeling the spark at all… but the guy sweetly put his hand out… and what did I do?  I took it!  And we held hands for easily 10 min!  And all the while I was conflicted about the mixed messages I was probably sending.  Argh…

Same for the arm around the shoulder!?  Wriggling out of that isn’t exactly a subtle communication.  Sigh…

Now… the more egregious faux-pas are easy to sidestep.
If I’m dancing with a guy and he presumes to grab my hiney, I’ll take his hand RIGHT off.  That’s culturally acceptable… and often expected.

But, refusing to hold a hand…just seems mean!?
And yet…I really don’t want to hold the hand of someone I’m not feelin’ chemistry with.  Am I locked in, simply by rules of courtesy?

What’s a girl (or guy!) to do?

I need some super suave, stealthy tricks to evade these unwanted gestures.
Not unlike the “hug & roll.”
Open to suggestions here, friends.

assume 2

The moral of the story is this…

When you’re on a first date –
READ THE ROOM!!
Use the clues your date is giving you to know if you can pull off the hand-holding or even a little goodnight snogging.  Watch for things like eye contact, light touching, sitting close, etc. to know.

If she’s making frequent trips to the bathroom…with her phone, or looking off into space, or checking the time, or scooting away… it’s not the time for a smooch OR showing her the latest motorhome models.
It sleeps 6!  That means we CAN have those 4 kids!”
smh…

 


Ready to Rumble? – The Art of Apology

One of the most dramatically powerful artforms in human relationships is a good apology.

A good apology can soften the hardest heart, heal deep wounds and restore hope to what seemed lost.

But…there are a lot of bad apologies floatin’ around out there.  And I’m here to point out the bogus ones and help us learn how to do it right.

art of apologyMost of the times I hear someone attempt an apology, my inner George Costanza comes out and I start muttering, “You can stuff your sorries in a SACK!”  And George is right… most sorries are only worth a sack stuffing…
Because I dare say that 85% of apologies – blow.  Yup.  They’re terrible.  They’re either disingenuous or lazy or just plain wrong.

First – let’s talk about what a good apology is NOT:

1.  A passive aggressive way to criticize someone.

I have a friend who’s in a bit of tense ongoing conversation with her parents and she receieved a text from her mother, apologizing, seemingly sincerely, about not having told my friend earlier all the ways in which she was disappointing her.  What?  That’s like saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner that you suck.”  That, friends, is NOT an apology.  That’s a coward’s way of skirting around an issue.  Just say what you mean – don’t couch it as something good and kind like an apology, when all it is is criticism.

2.  A sneaky back-handed way of shifting the blame back onto someone else.

This one is common in romantic relationships.  Example:  “I’m sorry that you were sensitive and took what I innocently said and heard it as something hurtful.”  Translation:  “You’re insane and I did nothing wrong.  But, I’m sorry that you’re crazy.”
If you really don’t think you did ANYthing wrong… then there is still a way to do a “sorry you got upset” without invalidating the other person…but that’s a conversation for another day.

3.  A way to end an uncomfortable situaion, rather than a true attempt at peace.

Saying something generic like, “I’m just sorry this whole thing happened…let’s move on” leaves the other person thinking (and correctly so), that all you’re really sorry about is that you’re having to endure some relational discomfort.  A much better tactic at this point would just be to take a break and come back calmer to do the real apologizing.

4.  JUST saying “sorry.”

Sure,  the world of romantic-comedies has women HOPING for the empassioned and pleading “I am a lout and am unworthy of a woman like you…. is there ANY way you’d take me back???” apology that dips into the pool of idol worship and unquestioned adoration.  Heck – I’d take one of those any day!  But, it’s not realistic.  And not particularly healthy.
However, the other end of that continuum  – the weak, half-hearted “whatever” of apologies is no bueno either.  Pushing out the word “sorry” from your unyielding, annoyed lips doesn’t count.  It’s not honest.  And everyone knows it.

 

A true apology contains these elements:

– Authenticity
– Acceptance of responsibility

That’s it, folks.  I’m here to say that you don’t even need to FEEL a ton of remorse to offer up a decent apology…though, remorse definitely makes it better.
But, sometimes you apologize for something because you KNOW you erred and you hurt someone, but the feelings of sorrow haven’t caught up with you yet because your body’s too busy feeling frustrated or embarrassed or….the biggest player in this game –> stubbornly prideful.
And yet…you recognize the wrong you’ve done, and you make it right.

That’s all it is – seeing your error and making it right.  Restoration.  Repair.

When my children mess up and hurt each other, they have to apologize to the other person and include WHAT they did wrong.

Examples:
Bad:   “Sorry…”  (eyes rolling, half whispering it as you walk past the other person)
Good:  “I’m sorry for scratching you with my toy.”

They have to identify what the ‘wrong’ piece was and own it.

That’s all we have to do as grown-ups too!  The problem is that our silly pride gets in the way.  And so often, BOTH people are at fault, and in our stubbornness, we don’t want to admit our OWN culpability until they do theirs.  We want things to be FAIR.

But, what would happen if we tried- even as a social experiment – apologizing for our part of something REGARDLESS of whether the other person ever owned up to his/her stuff.  And see if it doesn’t make relationships move more smoothly and make you feel better.

The other day I had a small moment of friction with a friend where he said something that hurt my feelings.  But, when we talked about it, I realized that I am probably overly-sensitive in this area because of some junk in my past… and so I may ‘require’ my friends to tread softly in that arena.  And that’s not altogether bad… good friends recognize each others’ areas of woundedness and can be especially tender in those places.  But, I also have to own up to my fragility and not put all the blame for my hurt on him.  So, I said so – without demanding anything back… and it was HARD!  It’s hard to press the pause button on waiting for someone to say, “Oh – I hurt you?  I am SO SORRY!” and simply call myself out on my own transgression.  But I did… and it was quite freeing.  For us both!

I think my willingness to take the one-down approach to the situation made him feel less like he was on the chopping block, and so he felt free enough to say he was sorry too.

And my apology didn’t negate his wrong.  He still did say something hurtful.  Me admitting my own frailty and apologizing for being overly senstitive doesn’t take away his role in the hurt.  But, it helps shed light on the situation AND shows him that I’m willing to turn toward him, even while hurt, and do my part to make this right again.

The point is this – when friction arises… there’s a strong possibility that you’ve done SOMEthing to contribute to it.  Even if the part you played was only 10% of the problem… if you identify that and take responsibility for it – you’re intentionally participating in restoration.  And restoration is ALWAYS a good thing.

Don’t wait (necessarily) until you “feel” sorry… we are grown-ups… we can recognize when we’ve messed up even if our feelings of remorse haven’t caught up to our brains.  Do the hard work of swallowing your pride to apologize for your piece…and see if it doesn’t move the whole relationship closer to wholeness.

 


Ask Sarah – Bad Sex

Dear Sarah,

I’ve recently started dating again and was trying a “new MO.”  I confess that I watch The Millionaire Matchmaker and she has a rule of ” no sex before monogmamy.”  So, I thought I’d give this a try.  So, I dated this guy several  times, liked him a lot, had lots in common etc. After we had a discussion about seeing other people, we decide to make the whoopee.

Bad bad bad.

It was so bad on so many levels that I’m embarrassed to go there again. Here’s my dilemma…in the old days, it was an easy fix.
But since I’ve gone out so many times and I genuinely like him as a person, how do you ditch someone over bad sex (not to mention unfortunate anatomy issues)?

Thanks for your wisdom and advice.


 

bad sex 1

Dear Disappointed in bed,

First – let me just applaud you for making the bold and counter-cultural decision to wait on having sex.  I know this couldn’t have been an easy choice when the temptation is so strong!

And the issue of when to take intimacy all the way is a touchy one (no pun intended) because I know I have readers on every part of the continuum from no-rules to no-sex-before-marriage and everything in-between.  So – let me make this caveat that my answer to this question isn’t a commentary on when people should enter into a sexual relationship, but rather, thoughts on how a less-than-desirable sexual partnership can be turned around.

Ok – so – are you sure you want to end it?  Have you come to that conclusion?  Or is part of you wondering if this is salvageable?  Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts on this.

I don’t think bad sex is insurmountable.  Now – please don’t hear me say that I think people need to settle for less than everything they want in the bedroom… I think it’s great to aim for an amazing sex life.  BUT – I think the factors that make the sex bad – can be fixed.  Hear me out.

If you find a good man (and that’s a big if, I’ll admit), then you can turn bad sex into hot sex.

If the problem isn’t the sex, but the person behind it, then…yeah …it may be time to end it.

But, if the person you’re with WANTS you – that is, he wants you physically AND he wants to know you and love you, then you have all the tools you need to have great sex…with a little help.

 

My dad used to tell us (yes – my pastor father …dispensing sexual wisdom to his children…it’s true!) – that the most important sex organ is the mind.  Not the “bathing suit parts.”   If you devote yourself to another person, make their wants/needs as or more important than your own, learn about them and care for them in this way, you can have the hottest sex life.  It’s true.
But, it also requires the scary step – communication.  And communicating about sex is one of the most terrifying subjects, especially when you’re not on the same page.  Talk about vulnerability!  Talking to someone about how they are when they’re at their MOST exposed (literally naked) is the trickiest conversation to have.

THIS is why many people save sex for when they’ve reached the point in the relationship where they feel emotionally safe enough to talk about anything.  Where they feel loved and cared for so much that they have the FREEDOM to speak up about any issue.  This might also be why first date sex isn’t always as sizzling hot as you’d hoped… because you aren’t in a place where you can let your desires be known.

Reader – if this man seems like a catch in other ways, (and…heck…if you’re ready to, as you say, “ditch” him, then you really have nothing to lose), why not talk about this in a gracious way?  You might be surprised that he WANTS to have this talk because he’s eager to please you in this arena.  Now, obviously, this is an area in which to tread softly and use non-judgmental language.  But, I’ll bet if you broach it tenderly, maybe over a glass of wine, and using phrases like, “I really like you and I’m excited about making this thing great.  Would it be ok with you if we try a couple things differently next time we’re in the bedroom?  I really like it when…”

I know what some of you are thinking… “some people just aren’t sexually compatible.”  And I call BS.  If you have the right parts, you’re sexually compatible.  That’s just physics.  A plug and an outlet will always WORK, unless something else is wrong.  What most people mean when they say that, is that they’re not compatible in other ways – communication, intimacy, levels of desire, the ways you express passion, etc.  But all of those things are areas that CAN be changed or modified if you care about someone enough to truly learn them and they you.

That whole joke/phrase that women say and men scoff at:  “size doesn’t matter… it’s how you use it,” ….well, I think there’s some real truth to that.  I’m not saying that body types don’t enter into this discussion at all – but at the core of great sex – is desire, care, understanding, ….love.

So – I say, don’t go down without fighting.  You don’t have anything to lose.  If you try to talk about things and his ego can’t handle it…then you’ve just gained more information about him and he’s perhaps not the catch you thought he was.  And then, breaking things off becomes easier too – because you have more reasons than just bad sex – you have the much greater dealbreaker of his unwillingness to do the work to make the relationship great.

But, maybe you’ll be surprised that he likes you enough to endure a little conversational discomfort for the sake of compatibility – in every room of the house.


Ask Sarah – Supermarket Serendipity – pt. II

Dear Sarah,

Over the years I’ve kind of developed this theory that what pornography does to men destructively, the cute romantic comedy and romance literature, and Disney movies do to women (obviously they’re not the same in terms of decency). I mean that it creates a false sense of the norm, generates unrealistic expectations, and encourages dangerous unhealthy behavior. That said, there’s a fine line between romantic and creepy. Things on the silver screen which can take your breath away positively, would negatively take your breath away in real life, and possibly end with mace. Wild romantic gestures, whether in a relationship or to initiate one, wreak of creepy more than cute in real life.

I think about this often. One of the recurring themes is the “supermarket serendipity”. Women often dream of meeting their guy at the grocery store. When I’m grocery shopping I notice women, but it certainly seems like the most inappropriate place to hit on girls. If you strike up a conversation over things in the buggy, that’s weird. If you look like you’re hanging out there to pick up chicks it’s pathetic.

When I go to the grocery store I leave the kids at home; it’s a mini vacation, and my grocery bill is lower. I love the idea of randomly bumping into someone and meeting, but it definitely seems like poor timing. We’ve all got ice cream in our carts, and making a date is next to impossible.

Oh well, I’ll quit blabbering, but I’m curious what you think.


Well, we talked about the idea of women’s unrealistic romantic fantasies/expectations in Part 1, but today, I’m going to tackle the way more fun topic of the ACTUAL supermarket serendipity.

Yes – many women have this fantasy in their mind – that while at some public forum, a dashing single man will notice them and initiate conversation…ending in a kismet moment that they’ll look back on 3 kids and 10 happily married years later, and smile.

Is that too much to ask??    (kidding…    no, but seriously.      ok, ok – kidding.)

 

Before we launch in – let me say that YES – this can flop.  Yes, these moments can be disastrous.  I’ve heard several accounts of this going awry – women who are all-but-stalked in a grocery store where some guy follows them and then hits them up with an unbidden conversation dripping with an alarmingly high creepy factor and a suspiciously multi-level-marketing-ish tone.

That’s NOT what I’m talking about.  Those are men who are ‘hunting,’ not just noticing/looking.  A man on the prowl is different from a man who notices you’re getting a bottle of wine he loves and uses that as a springboard for authentic conversation.

What I AM talking about is a man (or woman!) being bold enough to acknowledge someone who strikes his fancy – and reading his audience so he doesn’t creep her out, but initiates a conversation that they can continue later if they’re both interested.

I carry cards with me that have my name, website and phone number on them, so that if something like this ever happens and I’m intrigued, I can give a guy one of my cards, flash him my winning smile and tell him with my equal-parts-seductive-and-genuinely-friendly eyes that I’d look forward to hearing from him.  Boom.

The problem with these public conversation start-ups is that people feel more exposed and vulnerable than they do in more culturally acceptable venues.  Men will easily sidle up to you at a bar or a club and tell your their life story, but ask a man about a ripe avocado and watch the fear take over his face.  Geez…  why is it BETTER to be ‘picked up’ at a bar than at Whole Foods?  I dare say that I’m more my true self while checking out with my quinoa, kale, and ice cream (see …if you get enough health foods, you can sneak in the junk and NO one will notice…) than 2 craft beers in at my local watering hole.  I’m the real life me – not the dolled up, tipsy version.  Plus – think of all the fuel for conversation!  At least once every couple of weeks, I’ll remark on what someone ahead of me or behind me is purchasing – man OR woman.  If I see steaks, veggies, wine and cheese, I’ll often joke, “So!  What time shall I be there for dinner?”  People always chuckle and it usually opens us up to a brief conversation.  Or I’ll ask someone who’s buying something I’ve never tried, if it’s good.  What do you have to lose?

Tell you what – here are some simple tips for lighting the match of a potential match – in the grocery store (these can be adapted for WalMart/Target, home improvement stores, boutiques, jiffy lubes, and on and on the list goes):

– DO smile and be yourself, even if that means a little stuttering or tripping over your words.  We find that way more endearing than the slurred speech you’ll give us a few hours later while ordering your stout.
– Do NOT follow a woman through the aisles.  Speak or don’t.  But, don’t stalk her until you get up your nerve.  Having a ‘tail’ isn’t romantic, it’s cause for a restraining order.
– DO start the conversation with something relevant (about what you’re buying, etc.  I’ve had men give me tips on which wines are good when they see me surveying the options.  I’d be happy for them to follow that up with, “You know… I know a great wine bar not too far from here… if you’d ever want to go grab a drink?”)
– Do NOT use a ‘line’ like you might at a bar.  “So…you come here often?” doesn’t really dazzle the way you think it will at Kroger/Jewel/Publix.  Of course we come here often.  We eat.
– DO make friendly eye-contact.  It’s the first bait you can put out to see if she’ll bite.  Does she look back and smile?  Bam!  That’s your invitation to strike up a friendly conversation.  If she rolls her eyes, well – you have your answer.
– DO read your audience.  If she’s racing through the store in a near panic, she does NOT have the time to be hit on.  If she’s exasperated with 6 children nipping at her heels…she’s not feeling sexy.  If she’s buying tampons, ice cream, St. John’s wort and the latest Cosmo…well, I’ll let that speak for itself.  But, if she’s shopping leisurely and seems in good spirits, I say you go for it.
– DO go for it!  What’s the worst that will happen?  She’ll dismiss you and move on?  Ok – well, you didn’t know her before, so you’ve lost nothing.  And perhaps you’ve gained a bit of bravery?!

 

I talk with people all the time – men and women – who don’t want to do the online dating thing because they want their love story to start off “more organically.”  But, what does that MEAN?  If online dating is too contrived, I can understand that – but, then what?  Does that mean you don’t ever take the initiative to make contact with someone in public?  Are bars ok, but Lowe’s isn’t?  Is Friday night salsa dancing acceptable, but forget saying hello at church on Sunday morning?  Or are you ONLY waiting for someone to introduce you?  You might be waiting a long time.

Women like to be wanted.  And we like when men take a risk.  If you start up conversation while waiting in line for your Diet Coke at Burger King, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Instead of waiting for life to plop someone in your lap, why not look around at who life has plopped within 30 feet!?  That way you can have it your way – right away.


Ask Sarah – Money, Money, Money

Dear Sarah,

At what point in the course of dating is it fitting to start talking finances, i.e. income, net worth, assets, debts, etc?  This is a part of reality that can’t be ignored. But it also isn’t appropriate for a new relationship. So the question is, where between date one and engagement would you slot this convo?


money 5I had a professor in graduate school say that the majority of all conflict between couples has to do with one of two topics:  Sex and Money.

So, it stands to reason that there’s quite a lot to consider in the course of relationship about both of these areas.  And for today’s purposes, I’m going to suggest that we view them in the SAME light – and that’s this:

Both sex and money-talk, should happen/progress commensurate to the level of intimacy in the relationship.

For instance… in the same way that it is healthy to pace yourself sexually to match the level of emotional closeness, I think you should parcel out your financial situation discussion AS you feel emotionally safe to do so.  What do I mean by emotionally ‘safe?’  You can see the longer version of that here.  But, in essence, it’s where both people feel loved, known/understood and valued by the other person, so much so that they feel comfortable being vulnerable, knowing that they will be cared for.Money 3

Most people would agree (even if they’ve broken their own rule) that sex on the first date is damaging to the long-term goal of a good relationship.  Why?  Because the physical intimacy is WAY ahead of some other basics that should be in place for the sexual relationship to really blossom – love, trust, care, emotional safety, committment, etc.  So, the relationship is off balance… which makes it vulnerable to misunderstanding, hurt, frustration and ultimately failure.  This is not to say that every time a relationship begins in an unbalanced way, that it’s unsalvageable, but that it makes it difficult to get back to a place of safety and love.

In that same way – talking about finances before you’ve established some intimacy/safety, can be just as damaging.  Especially when the two people are in different places, financially.  This is all much easier if you sense (and you will) that you’re in a similar situation as your partner.  People will make jokes about being poor (I know this from personal experience), or you’ll be able to tell by someone’s spending, that s/he is financially comfortable… so if you’re equally matched up, this conversation can happen sooner and probably more easily.  Two people steeped in debt can empathize with each other on how difficult it is to climb out.  Similarly, two people doing well for themselves can celebrate each others’ situation and enjoy the equity that brings to the growing relationship.
But, when one has money and the other doesn’t (QUITE often the case), talking it out can be really scary…

 

Let me back up for a moment.money 4

SOME financial talk is inevitable at the beginning of a relationship.  Heck – whether it’s spoken or unspoken, there is “talk” of finances on Date #1 when the check comes.  Who pays?  Is there an assumption?  Do both offer to pay and then there’s a short transaction of terms?  Money is always a present factor, whether we dive in fully or not.  But, there’s a difference between dealing with the immediate financial situation, and delving into the deeper waters of net worth, savings, debt, etc.

Side note:  Men… while there ARE women out there who don’t fit this rule, the quality single women out there value GENEROSITY much much more than WEALTH.  Now, a wealthy person has much more opportunity for generosity, so wealth itself isn’t bad or wrong, but when a man tries to show a woman JUST how well-off he is, it’s off-putting.  A man who insists on paying for dinner in a kind and gentlemanly way is FAR sexier than a man who brags about his cars, watch, 401k, etc. 

I’ve been on dates with men where they show me photos of their cars or shove their watches in my face expecting a reaction of awe… except that I know NOTHING about watches, so I can’t tell if it’s from a plastic box from WalMart or the felt-lined displays at Patek Phillipe.  So, it only serves to make me feel silly/awkward for not knowing how to respond.  Do I go with a “OOoooh, how nice!”  or “I like a man who can bargain shop!” (note…do not use this one unless you’re certain it’s a reasonably priced watch.  I’m just sayin’…. it doesn’t end well.  I ought to know.)

But a man who pays for the date without complaining about menu prices – that’s ‘money.’  (<—yes…I’m using that as an adjective.  Meaning… it’s good.)

Alright – back to the issue at hand.

money 6Part of the advantage of waiting for this talk until you know the person better… is that you’ll learn the character of the person BEFORE hearing the financial situation.  You’ll start to see whether the person is greedy, kind, impulsive, overly-cautious, free-spirited, calculating, etc.  So, when the conversation finally does happen, you’ll be able to weigh the cold hard facts against what you know to be true about the person.  That’s no small thing.  Think about it this way, you would have a grossly different reaction to finding out that your potential partner has major medical debt that s/he’s still fighting, if you know the history:
Option 1 – she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that took a few years to figure out, treat, and come up with a maintenance plan for.
Option 2 – after a car accident, she became addicted to prescription pain-killers and struggles with substance abuse.

Neither is insurmountable, but they’re awfully different, right?  And KNOWING the person will shed light on the financial situation.

I’ll tell my own sad tale as a way of proving my point… (prepare for disillusion) — I am a divorced single mom with 3 jobs.  I don’t have any fancy 401k’s or money sunk into the stock market.  I have student loan debt (how do you think I got THIS smart?), and other annoying financial burrs in my side.  As much as I like to think I’m wise with my money (not using credit, saving, etc.), there just never seems to be enough…   So, for someone like me, there’s no way I’m going to feel comfortable putting all the details of my grim financial situation out there for someone until I know I’m loved, cared about and there’s a level of commitment that’s NOT conditional on my financial standing.  Once I feel safe with someone, I will start to give him pieces of the overall picture.
With an ex-boyfriend, we were almost a year into our relationship when we finally started putting actual NUMBERS out there.

money 2

So, unfortunately, there’s no clear timeline answer on this.   YES, you have to talk about it as you become increasingly closer and more commited to each other, but NO, you should talk about it until there’s a layer of safety and understanding/love there to protect that conversation.

Building the relationship should be the number one focus of your energy, and as you grow in trust/love, and as intimacy increases, so will physical connection, as well as openness about topics like money.


Let’s Not Get Greedy, Now

Yesterday I overheard two girls talking in line at a cafe, and one said, in a cavalier tone, “I mean… JUST because I’m engaged, doesn’t mean I HAVE to marry him!”

Um………..it doesn’t?

I posted this on Facebook and got quite the response from men and women – which inspired this post.

It occurs to me that this attitude of committing to something without really committing to it – is becoming a dating/relationship epidemic.  People are saying yes to anything from a second date to marriage proposals – out of fear that maybe there won’t be anything better… so they hedge their bets by holding on to something that isn’t perfect for them.

Greedy - dressIt’s like when you’re shopping at Ross and you buy up any dress you think MIGHT actually look nice on you in the flattering light of your own home… knowing full-well you’ll likely return some or all of them in the coming week.  So, why buy them at all?  You buy them so that you can have the OPTION of owning them, and so that no other woman can scoop them up.

And I do this too – you try it on and you don’t LOVE it, but you think you might GROW to love it, with the right level of Spanx scaffolding and distracting accessories…you could make it work?… so, you don’t want to give up the possibility of ownership… even though your gut tells you it’s way too hoochie-mama, or see-through, or tight or unflattering in some way.  You hold on to less-than-perfect

Are we doing this in the dating world?  Holding onto a girlfriend or boyfriend longer than we ought to… just because they’re the ‘best so far?’  Do we keep our claim on someone so that no one else can have him/her even if we know deep down that s/he’s not the one?  Or do we think if we put the right proverbial spanx on our guy/girl that they might turn INTO the one we really want?  We’ll just keep accessorizing around the problem – that we’re NOT a good fit?

This is terrible!

And it’s also why I’m a fan of the quick elimination system.

I contend – and stick with me for a minute – that dating should be greedy… in order to NOT be greedy. Hold on, before you check out… check this out:

greedy - quoteI was having lunch with someone the other day who was hesitant to get back into dating because she doesn’t have time to go on multiple dates with people who she doesn’t like…. WHAT?  I asked her WHY she would go on any more than one short date with someone if he wasn’t showing potential for being ‘the one?’  She responded with this popular sentiment that there’s some sort of expectation to go on several dates with people because it’s …good manners?  Pbshhh…. Nuh uh!  I call poppycock.

I say you only spend your time hanging out with someone who you WANT to be spending your time with.  Be greedy.  Don’t accept second dates out of obligation or some kind of weird cultural expectation.  In this way, it’s OK to be selfish.  When being picky is being greedy – I say being greedy is ok.

It’s OK to want the whole package.  (Not perfection… there’s a big difference between realistic expectations and fantasies…that’s probably enough fuel for a whole other post, but for now – know that when I say the “whole package” – I mean someone that meets the parameters you’ve set in your mind/heart for who is a great match for YOU).
It’s OK to be picky and wait for it.

Be greedy on the front end, so that you don’t end up greedily holding onto something that isn’t meant to be yours.  Be greedy, to not be greedy.  See what I mean?

And in the meantime, it’s OK to let the men or women around you grab up the dresses that made you look fat while you wait for the one that fits you like a glove.

I can only hope that my perfect dress (I imagine it’s ruched for maximizing my curves, while having a big, passionate heart) is out there on some rack, waiting for me to try it on… and not being held hostage in some other woman’s closet while she holds onto something that isn’t right for her, out of fear that there won’t be something better.

 


Ask Sarah – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Dear Sarah,

I’m curious, have you ever written anything regarding facial hair on men? I’ve sprouted some recently and I’m always interested in how differently girls respond to me when I have it. Someone even told me it made me look sinister…ha! Thoughts?  I don’t really look sinister, do I?

I’ve included pictures of me you can use in your analysis if you like. 😉  Also just so you know, I’m not really looking for advice on whether I should keep the beard or not.  I have it because I like it, and I’ll shave it when I decide I don’t like it any more.  I am interested in hearing what women’s reactions to the two different looks are though.

 Ask Sarah - Facial Hair(This reader gave me permission to post these, as long as I was clear to the women in my readership
that he is single and available.
(His profile)

A man after my own heart.  Ladies… form a line.)


Dear Sinisterly Furry,

First of all, before weighing in on your personal situation, let me speak to the more general questions this brings up.

Turns out I actually have lots of thoughts on all things coiffure. (more…)


Ready to Rumble? – Know Thyself

One of the first steps in becoming a better fighter is increasing self-awareness.

Wow… this really rings of a wax-on-wax-off kinda talk, doesn’t it, grasshopper?

Imagine any scenario where you’ve had friction with someone… inevitably the human instinct is to defend ourselves by either assigning blame to the other person or at the very least, avoiding the blame yourself.

But, a surefire way to fan the flame of disagreement  is to jump right to what the other person did/said wrong and working out your rebuttle or defense to their incorrect conclusions. (more…)


Ask Sarah – Rebounding

Dear Sarah,

How can you avoid becoming someone’s rebound?


Well, let’s define our terms first.  Because when most people use the term “rebound,” they don’t just mean the person someone dates right after coming out of a long-term relationship.  There’s a connotation that the rebound relationship is NOT going to work out to be long-term or meaningful… that it’s just a stop along the way of the wounded person’s healing process.

And, everybody should want to avoid THAT.

But I DO believe there are people who are healthy enough to do the required work after a breakup, so that their next relationship CAN be healthy and long-term.  So – while you may technically be their “rebound,” it might have potential to be great.  I dare say there are a fair share of marriages out there that began as “rebounders.”

And it wouldn’t be fair to discount someone as a potential partner JUST because this would be their first relationship after a failed one!

So, I think a better question would be

How do I assess someone’s true ‘readiness’ for a relationship?”

 

Obviously, there’s no foolproof method for this, or else multitudes of broken hearts around the world wouldn’t happen at the hands of ill-prepared men and women entering relationships they’re not ready for.  I have fallen victim to this myself, getting involved with someone who, by his own admission a year and a half later, wasn’t ready.  Sigh…

But… I do think there are some tools we can use to better the odds.

1.  Does she have a happy life, aside from being single?

I’ve talked about this before – that you can know there’s something missing in your life – even long for it, while still creating a life you enjoy around you.
When you meet someone, he should seem satisfied with his life, not like he’s moping until he finds you.  If you come into an unhappy life, he or she will be expecting YOU to be their EVERYthing and that’s a lot of (too much) pressure.  That’s a recipe for co-dependence.

Rather – look for someone who has friends, hobbies, who seems pretty content with things.

This also includes looking for moodiness.  Now, everyone has a bad day.  Everyone has natural ups and downs, but I’m talking about something more dramatic.  Someone who’s consistently moody (high highs and low lows… and you don’t know what you’re going to encounter when you call/text/meet up) may be either still hung up on a past relationship (meaning that they’re still in the healing phase), or may even have a mental disorder that needs to be addressed.

True happiness/contentment should look like this – she’s generally in a good mood, has people and activities in her life that make her happy, seems content with the way things are… and YOU would be the icing on the cake that would take her from good to GREAT.  You don’t want to have to be someone’s savior.

2.  Does there seem to be an overemphasis on the physical?

When people aren’t healthy enough to do what’s required for a relationship, you can often tell because they’ll be very into the physical stuff (touching, snuggling, kissing, etc.) and neglect the emotional/intellectual connection required to really know each other.

After a breakup, one of the things we all crave and miss – is that physical connection and attention we used to get all the time, that’s been suddenly taken away.  It leaves a lonely hole that we yearn to fill.  And it’s so easy to go after it in someone else before really mourning the first relationship’s end and coming back to a good personal place.  I’ve heard several people lately talk about how much they miss just having someone in the bed with them – not even sex, necessarily – just another person next to them while they sleep.  I get that – I DO!  But, don’t go into a relationship JUST to get that.  Or don’t be the one in a relationship that’s giving JUST that.

Do not confuse physical intimacy for a complete picture of closeness.  When two people fall in the love the RIGHT way, the level of intimacy always matches the level of connectedness.  It doesn’t precede it.  As you know each other better, affection naturally increases.  If the two are out of balance… it’s a red flag.

So, if you find yourself with someone who always wants a little less talk and a lot more action, you might ask yourself if s/he’s only in it for the temporary ego-boost/healing balm that mugging down can give you when you’re not really ready for the whole enchilada.

3.  Did he come right out and TELL you he wasn’t ready?

Sadly, I’ve fallen into this trap a few times.  Someone’s literally told me – point blank – that he wasn’t ready for a relationship… he just wanted to get out there and have some fun.  But, I was so attracted to him that I tricked myself into thinking that if he got to really know me, he wouldn’t be able to help falling madly in love.  Ha!

If he SAYS he isn’t ready – believe ‘im.  Because, hey – what’s the alternative?  That he’s wrong – which makes him either REALLY not self-aware, or a liar… neither of which do you want to date.

4.  Is she selfish?

I know this sounds obvious – ‘don’t date someone who’s self-absorbed.’  Duh.  But, it’s not always so simple.  Selfishness can often be disguised beneath false kindness/sacrifice.  You know that girl who bakes you cookies and leaves you sweet notes?  That’s all well and good… but doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s still not thinking only of herself.  Listen to the language… is the “me monster” showing up in every conversation? (shout out to Brian Regan there…)  Do you know all about her preferences/hobbies/ideas, but she hasn’t asked about yours or engaged with you about your life?  Sweet notes with her lip prints doesn’t count toward truly knowing each other and being partners on a team.

This is a dangerous one because – at the beginning of a relationship, it can feel like the other person is meeting all your needs, when in reality it’s just fulfulling something in her and isn’t about loving/serving you at all.

5.  Does he talk about his ex too much?

Another one that seems obvious… but it can be masked in the tantalizing sweetness of comparison.  How nice is it to have a guy say, “You are so much more [fill-in-the-blank good quality] than my ex was.”  The natural competitor in all of us wants to “win” by being the BEST boyfriend or girlfriend someone’s ever had.  Heck, I find myself falling into this trap even with friends!  If I find out I do something better than another friend, I get a swollen sense of pride.

But, here’s the deal – you don’t really want to aim for “better than the ex.”  You want to aim for “great.  all on your own.”

Being a notch or two above the one who ended up getting ditched isn’t exactly a lofty goal.  We should all be targeting an amazing connection that moves beyond the bounds of exes and is incredible all on its own – free from the ghosts of our past relationships.

If you keep hearing stories of the ex, comparisons to the ex, or complaining (that’s the worst) about the ex… it may be a sign that he’s not really over her.

Talking about a past love with pain in his voice is a sure-fire clue that if she were to come back into the picture, he’d turn away from you and into her arms in a heartbeat.  And that’s not the man you want.  You want a man who has a whole heart’s worth of room for you.

 

 

There are other signs, of course.  But these are some that you can be on the lookout for, to avoid being the bad kind of rebound lover.  But, remember, sometimes – the relationship that comes right after an unhealthy one has ended… can be good – as long as the dumpee has done the work needed to be ready.

Listen to your gut.  Watch for red flags and pay attention to them.  We are built with an intrinsic sense of right/wrong and being able to sniff out falseness.  If you can hone that ability by paying attention to the things that aren’t being said – you can probably avoid a fair share of heartache.

But, in the end… love is still a risk.  And even the best of the best get duped, swept up, fooled or disappointed.  Welcome to the grandest gamble of all.  When you lose, it hurts like a mother-dumper.  But when you win… it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

 



Are You Ready to Rumble?

Let’s talk about fighting!

conflict 4

One of the dumbest things people say (and I hear this ALL the time), is:  “I just really HATE conflict.”

DUH!  I can’t stand when I hear people say this because it’s usually a way of avoiding problem-solving.  What they MEAN is that they actively avoid conflict.

conflict 2

 

 

Is there anyone (except sociopaths and narcissists, perhaps) who LIKES conflict?

It’s conflictual for a reason …the friction between two people when things aren’t right – is never fun or enjoyable or comfortable.  No one LIKES conflict.

 

BUT… some people HANDLE it better than others.

Over the next few weeks, on Wednesdays, I’m going to be posting a series about conflict –  issues that prevent peace-making, different styles of conflict resolution, fears that get in the way, opposing personalities throwing down, etc.  Should be FUN!  Er… interesting…?

One thing that I have learned from being self-aware, analytical and devoting myself to my friendships/relationships, is I put a high value on the quality of being able to fight fairly.
Being a GOOD fighter is something I pride myself on and desire in a partner.

 

conflict 3

So, let me use today’s introduction post to say this…
FIGHT.

FIGHT for your relationships!

You know that idea of “fight vs. flight?”  (Also known as the Acute Stress Response)…It’s that choice, when presented with a perceived personal danger – to attack or to flee.  And I’m here to tell you –  Always choose fight.  I don’t mean be a jerk or use a heavy hand to win… I mean tackling the problem as soon as is possible for you.  If it’s not your natural response, let’s dig in and find out why so that going forward, you can tackle problems quickly and efficiently so that the least amount of damage occurs.  That’s what we’re going for here – minimal loss of love/trust/security.

conflict 1

This applies to friendships, family and definitely romantic relationships.  So, no matter where you are in your love life, or with your career, or how close you are to your family, you are in SOME form of relationship with SOMEone and conflict is a natural part of that.  So, WHEN (not ‘if’) it arises, let’s be ready to fight.

And to fight well.

After all,…anything worth having is worth fighting for.


Ask Sarah – Kind Rejection?

Dear Sarah,
As I am thinking more about dating in the future (my divorce is finalized in April) the thought of having to tell guys I’m not interested in them terrifies me. I know you have done it while maintaining friendships. How do you do that? What if a friend asks you out but you already know you’re not a good match? How do you turn him down without damaging the friendship? What if the reason isn’t an easy one like a difference of faith, but instead an attraction one? OR what if you discover a man is a terrible kisser? How to you get out of that with the least pain?
I think I need a template with fill in the blank options. Help a girl out!

 

Dear Spare-the-Feelings,

Be honest and be quick.  This is the best advice I can give you and I know it works because I’ve seen it in action!
Let’s start with the basics… NO one wants to be rejected.  It blows.
No matter how you slice it, rejection hurts.  BUT… it hurts LESS if it’s done with integrity and thoughtfulness.  Recently a guy used these words with me, “I wasn’t sure how to tell you, but like all things I realized it was best to be honest but gentle.”  So perfect.
Imagine if you were dating a guy and it was, say, date #4 and you could magically read his mind and you found out he wasn’t attracted to you  – at all.  Wouldn’t you feel stupid?  Wouldn’t you feel like you were wasting your time AND like he was a jerk for continuing to see you despite not being into you?  Ugh…that would suck.  So – if the situation is reversed, do the kind thing and let him go before it gets to date #4.
But, HOW?
In our postmodern society, we’ve been let off the hook of having to do things the hard way, oftentimes by technology.  Luckily, this includes the world of dating.  If things haven’t gotten serious yet, I say you can do this by e-mail, text or FB message.  Yes, I’m being serious.  And here’s why – it spares both people.  It gives the receiver of the bad news TIME to process things without having to respond right away (which also increases your chances of him agreeing to friendship), and it gives YOU the freedom to say what you really mean without having to hem and haw out of nervousness.
Example:
Mark – I’ve had such a fun time hanging out with you.  But, to be honest, the more I think about us, the more I just don’t think we’re a good match, romantically.”
If you LIKE him and want to keep being friends, you tag on:
But, I really enjoy spending time with you.  Seriously – you’re great!  And if you’d be up for it, I’d really like to try to be friends.  What do you think?”
If you DON’T want to be friends, you end it with:
I wish you the best of luck as you keep searching.”
DONE.
Now, if he writes back and continues the dialogue, you just stick to your guns and keep being honest.
I know what you’re thinking… worst case scenario stuff… what if he asks me WHY… and the reason really is something superficial or embarrassing?  Well then, you e-mail “ask Sarah.”  Hahaha… no, …there are ways to get out of this.  Here are a few routes:
  1. Uber-honesty.  If he asks why and it’s something, like you said, other than faith or life goals, etc. that most people can understand, you can answer, “Oh, Mark… If you REALLY want to know, I’ll be honest with you.  But, I’d rather just keep it at ‘we’re not a good match.'”  If he insists, you tell him.  Yup… if someone asks and asks again, then he WANTS to know!  So, you tell him.  “As much as I hate to say it, I just don’t think the chemistry is there.  I don’t find myself as attracted to you physically as I’d hoped.”
    Ouch.  I know.  But, guess what – the thought was already running through his head anyway, and at least this way he doesn’t think he acted like a jerk… you know?
  2. Pleading the 5th.  Just SAY that you don’t want to SAY!  Something like, “I don’t want to get into the ins and outs of it all.  Just trust me that it’s not going to work.  I’m sorry.”
  3. Political talk.  Use ambiguous terms and circle around the truth, gently.  “I don’t know that I can put my finger on it.  It’s just that…I’m looking for that certain ‘something’ – that spark – and I wasn’t sensing it.  I’m sorry I can’t be more specific.”
To answer your question, specifically, about the bad kisser… you can scoot around it by talking about having different “styles of communication or intimacy.”  I’ve actually said this to one guy who pressed.  I texted back, “I just think we’re different…even in our smooching styles.”  He was so gracious in his response.  Many people are…I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find.
Now, to the issue of remaining friends.  I think, as grown-ups, this is very possible.  I have several guy friends now who I dated briefly and are now sweet but platonic friends.  When I began this post with the advice to be honest and quick, the “quick” was in reference to the initial dating.  If you’re dating someone who you KNOW isn’t a good match – end it sooner rather than later if you want to keep him as a friend.  The longer you dabble in dating intimacy, the more tricky it becomes to backpedal to no-smoochy-land.  But, it’s possible.
The way to do is to just SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.  Don’t speak in flowery language, just – out with it!
Hey – I’m so sorry, but I just don’t think we’re a good romantic match.  But, I think you’re SO cool that I really do want to keep being friends, if you’d be up for that!?”
Then, if he is, you have to do something as platonic as possible the first couple of times coming out of the ‘break-up.’  Group stuff is best.  If you don’t have mutual friends, go somewhere crowded and playful – a hopping pool hall, bowling alley, outdoor plaza (in Houston, CityCentre on a Friday night would be perfect).  Talk, play, laugh and enjoy each other without putting yourself in an ambiguous or confusing environment (at your house, a quiet restaurant, a dark movie theater, etc.).
And honestly – having a sense of humor about the ‘not working out’ thing is so helpful.  When “Raul” and I decided we weren’t right for each other, we were talking it out at a restaurant.  When the waitress came, I said, “excuse me, we’re TRYING to break UP here!”  and winked/smiled.  Later when she asked if there was anything she could bring us, I replied, “Maybe an eligible bachelor or bachelorette?”  hahaha.  Raul laughed, she laughed and it took some of the potential pressure/awkwardness of the moment off.
I have another friend who I dated, but because of differences of faith, we didn’t work as a romantic match.  The other day, we were hanging out and he was introducing me to another friend who asked how we met.  He said, “online dating!”  She looked puzzled and said…”but you’re not still dating?” to which he replied, “No….it didn’t work out…she (me) had another man she loved more.  Jesus.”  🙂
Lightening the mood with humor is EVERYTHING.
Every situation is a little different, but there are some things that remain – no one likes being rejected, but everyone would rather be let go quickly than held onto longer than you’re genuinely interested. So – take a deep breath and go for it.  I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Shipping & Handling

People have been asking me to talk about which online dating sites are best, so I thought I’d give you my opinion of some of the big players.

But, when it comes down to it, all these sites really offer are varying levels of quality for filters and search tools.  The product?  Men.  (Or women, if that’s what you’re looking for, obvi).
To me, filter and search are like the shipping and handling of the online dating world.  And in the same way I wanna tell Amazon or any other online shopping, “look – you take care of the shipping, …I’LL ‘handle’ things,” I care much more about the filtering than I do about the built in search/matching options.  …But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Online dating sites are just like any other online shopping… I know what I want to begin with, and I go in search of it.  If I’m dead set on a pair of mustard-colored espadrilles, no, you won’t be able to convince me to buy suede boots.  In the same way, if I’m looking for a tall, metro-preppy, smart, funny, Jesus-lovin’ man who can dance… then, no, you cannot “interest me” in an uneducated atheist who doesn’t know how to correctly use its/it’s in his profile.
And, unfortunately for me – because of this blog, I click on a lot of less-than-desirable men who message me or show up in my matches… which seriously screws up my future match-ups.  So, now I get a lot of… “Because you checked out TexasUnimaginativeGuy69, you may like TXNotSoSmart69.”  Sigh with me…will you?

So, for me – I’d prefer a site that offers me:

– a large bank of quality men
– a user-friendly and easy-on-the-eyes interface
– detailed search tool options
– lots of filters (data)

Knowing that, let’s just jump on in to the ones I’ve used.  I’ll go in order of my subscriptions…

[Quick caveats –
1.  all of the following statements are MY opinion from MY experiences on these sites.  I know others have had different luck with them, so… take it as one single girl’s perspective…
2.  all the photos are how the site looks to me once I log in – just to give you an idea of the “look” of each.]

 

After a heart-breaking, gut-wrenching break-up 2 winters ago, (I like to start things out on a cheery note)… I decided to try online dating.  I had briefly used “ChristianMingle.com” before, which is where I’d found my ex-boyfriend.  Despite breaking my heart, he was a fantastic guy, so…I figured the site would have more like him on it to choose from on the second round.  I was wrong…it was a colossal disappointment.

ChristianMingle may USED to have had a bevy of hunky Christian men on it… now it’s full of either Osteenites (yes, I admit… not a fan of the ‘church of Joel’) or men who may love Jesus, but are about as smart as a box of rocks.  I’m sorry…I know it sounds harsh, but I actually had a guy on there tell me “not to use such big words”… sigh…


So, I figured I’d hit up the big guns – “Match.com.”  S & H - MatchThe apparent quality of men on this site was markedly better – I guess you do get what you pay for.  Of all the sites I belong to, this one probably has the most ‘settled’ men…meaning, there are many guys on here who have their stuff together – decent jobs, decent living situation, have dealt with whatever issues may have gotten in the way of having a relationship and are ‘ready’ to find the one.  The only problems I’ve found with Match Men are that –
1.  They can be cocky (they know they’re the cream of the crop, so they dismiss women quickly)
2.  I’m not as likely to find ones who place as high a value on their faith as I’d like (again…that’s for ME)

But, Match.com has something else going for it, and that is their “stir events.”  These are various types of real-life meet-ups where people who are members of the site can meet other members in group settings – they offer happy hour mixers, speed dating (as you may recall, I checked out one of their speed-dating events), cooking classes, sporting events, etc.
This is a GREAT incentive to subscribe – because you get the best of both worlds.

Still, when I started out on Match, before I was the cyber-dating shark I am now, it seemed to be, essentially an online street corner, where men troll for sex.  I’ll share with you later a few stories that will practically have a little voice in the back of your head whispering, “it rubs the lotion on its skin…”  But I digress…

In addition to Match being full of creepers, I also wasn’t getting any responses from the men I DID initiate conversation with… so I decided to analyze the situation scientifically – what could it be that was keeping men from interacting with me?  I mean…. I AM, after all, QUITE the catch.  I concluded that maybe it was the fact that I’m a mom… I get that.  I can see how it could freak someone out that I come with two children as part of the package…fair enough.


S & H - SingleParentMeetSo… I signed up for a couple months on “SingleParentMeet.com.”  Wow.  Just……wow.  I literally – and I am not making this junk up – for almost 6 months, renewed my subscription with them SOLELY for the rich material it provided me for the blog.  The steady parade of egregiously unqualified men was staggering.   And when I say “unqualified,” I don’t just mean as potential partners… but I don’t know how some of these guys are allowed to BE parents at ALL!  Sigh…


S & H - eHarmWith the wind somewhat sucked from my sails, I thought I’d pour my remaining vestiges of hope into the almighty “eHarmony.com,” or, as I affectionately call it, “The eHARM.”  Now, eHarmony does things a bit differently – you can’t go searching (let’s call it what it is…shopping) on your own.  You have to wait ‘til they deem someone worthy of a match and send you the information.  And they have been…. Across the board…. All of them – as in, 100%…. ugly.

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the sad truth.  Men – if you’re reading this and you are good-looking and on eHarmony…. Call me.  I mean…um….(shifts nervously)…you’re the exception.

Yup.  They may have a great character, good job, love Jesus… but they certainly aren’t about to win any beauty awards (holla  Monopoly’s “Community Chest”).  And, I’m sorry, but there has to be a physical chemistry/connection!!


SO, even though I can’t stand either of the names of these next two, I thought I’d join millions of Americans and condescend to the free sites… Plenty of Fish and OKCupid.

S & H - POFIf Match.com seemed to be the street corner of cyber dating, then Plenty of Fish is the under-the-bridge option.  If you’ve lost all self-respect and are just looking to hook-up with someone who very well may have at least one communicable disease… hit up PlentyOfFailFish.
I’m not saying EVERY guy on here is gross.  But if they’re NOT, then they’re probably not here for long…they’re the unfortunate misguided traveler who stumbled upon this quality-forsaken hole by utter accident.  OR…they (like me) stay for the sheer staggering display of reprobation.

By some divine intervention, I have actually met a couple of great guys on this site… and we’re still friends (in fact, the acclaimed “Raul” was a PoF find), but all of those men have since seen the light and moved up to a higher-grade site.


S & H - OKCupidOKCupid  was one I resisted for a long time because, what kind of a name is that?  Not – “YAY, Cupid!” or “Let’s DO this thing, Cupid,” but rather… “meh… whatevs… so-so…. OK….”

Still, I’d heard good things about it, so I ventured in.  And I gotta say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  I’d have to say this may be my favorite of the online dating sites.  It’s pleasant on the eyes, easy to use, has a fascinating associated blog with tips and tricks for the dating world, but mostly – it’s the questions.  Yup – OKC has hundreds of multiple choice questions you can answer (you answer as few or as many as you like…and you can go back and answer more any time) which help them match you up with others.  The answers you choose, and the importance you assign to the topic, are compared against potential matches so you can see how closely you line up on various issues.  It’s a pretty cool system actually.


S & H - eVowThen, one day while harvesting blog fodder from PlentyOfFish, I saw their advertisement for their sister site, eVow, which claims to be ONLY for people looking for serious relationships.  I wrote a blog post about this, including my findings after testing them out to see if they were legit in their claim (which they were!).  I haven’t been on eVow much because I haven’t seen any guys on there I would date… they may be looking for the same thing I am, but they’re certainly not dazzling me with their charming wit or sparkling intellect.  So… meh…


 

So – that’s what we’re working with, in terms of online dating.  Here are the cliff’s notes:

ChristianMingle – the K-Mart of online dating – used to be something in its day, but it’s taken a nose-dive into loser-ville

Match – Once you learn how to avoid the creepers, a decent bank of options

SingleParentMeet  – Clueless/Dim (my soft euphemisms for stupid) men…with children (heaven help us all)

eHarmony – all the men with the “great personality!” (you don’t need GoogleTranslate to know what that means…)

PlentyOfFish – perfect if you want an STD or a stalker

OKCupid – Free and pretty good, considering.

eVow – meh…

Conclusion:  I’m still relying on chance coincidences or “happening” to bump into Mr. Perfect at Club Kroger…..

 

And ONE of these days, I’ll convince my programmer friend to help me BUILD a dating website… which will be AWESOME.

Til then… happy shopping!


Ask Sarah – Death March?

Sarah,

So, in my recent singleness, I fired up the old online dating profile(s) again. I’ve gotten a few bites, and a couple of pretty promising leads. 

With one girl who I particularly fancy, we went from conversing on the site (3-4 messages each) to texting (for about 5 days). 

I’ve also been in the middle of a move this week, along with her working and in grad school. I thought, “Hey, texting will be great. We’re both super busy people, and it’ll be low pressure until we can actually meet in person in a few days.”

THIS DID NOT GO AS PLANNED! So, we texted back and forth a couple of times during the day, everything’s peachy. Then, I get a text earlier this evening saying “I look foward to meeting you, but I don’t think that with my current knowledge of you I can continue as we have been for several days by texting, as flattered as I am.

I explained how that I thought with both our busy schedules, texting seemed like a good, low-pressure way to communicate until we could meet.

So, then I said “How about I concentrate on finishing up my move, and I’ll just call you the evening before we planned to meet?” She said that she thought that was a good idea.

Is this just a death march at this point? At what point do you move from text to phone? DO I ACTUALLY HAVE TO TALK TO GIRLS TO GET THEM TO DATE ME? WHAT ARE THOSE LOUD NOISES?

Seriously, though. Help a brotha out. How can I salvage this thing (or, not make this mistake on the next one)?


Dearest brotha,
This is definitely puzzling.  I have a few clarifying questions…
1.  I wish I could see the last couple texts leading up to that one.  Did you say something that seemed distancing?  Or…did you let more time pass after one of her texts that you had up to that point?  I just wonder what the catalyst was for her text.
2.  Did you make firm plans to hang out soon?  I got the impression you had something “on the books” for the coming week… is that the case?
But, based on just what you told me, and her response, my best guess is that she’s trying to determine if you’re one of those guys who texts indefinitely and never pulls the trigger.  And trust me…there are a LOT of those guys.  That’s why I asked if you had something firm ‘on the table,’ as it were.
My advice:
a.  It’s NEVER a death march!  In today’s dating world, there are always ways to pull it back around.  It’s one of the perks of the post-modern casual methods… sometimes I get texts from guys who stopped texting me MONTHS ago… they found me in their phone/ipad and decided to go for round 2.  Who knows…maybe they were concentrating on someone else and when she didn’t work out, they went back to old connections.  Whatever…the world of dating is open and unless she has point-blank rejected you – there is still room for hope.  🙂
b.  Be painfully honest with her.  Don’t try to put a flirty tone on things (especially since that’s so hard to convey via text).  Just say what you truly want.  For example:
Your text seemed to come out of the blue… I hope I didn’t upset you somehow?  I was trying to give us both some room this week because I thought we were busy with school/moving/etc.  But, I DO want to meet you.  And I’d love to talk on the phone before that happens.  You seem really cool and I’d love the chance to keep getting to know you better.“….etc.
c.  Talk to her!  You have nothing to lose.  Plus, you get to hear if she has a weird voice or talks with an annoying upspeak or something.  😉
If you’re not great on the phone, give yourself some helpers:
     – Begin by saying that you only have a few minutes because you’re meeting a friend for coffee or you have a meeting…blah blah… point is, you have a predetermined time limit, so you don’t have to hem and haw to get out of the conversation.  I do this sometimes because, despite my extroversion and ease of talking to people, I’m bad on the phone.  I can’t use all the nonverbals of body language to help navigate the conversation, and I get nervous.
     – Go old school junior high and have a list of topics handy next to you.  She never needs to know!  Hey – if it works for teenagers, why can’t it work for us?  Think of some funny thoughts based on your texts or shared interests or things going on in Houston or something interesting from your day…and see where it takes you.  Then, if you hit a lull, you move on to the next item on your cheat sheet.  Nothing wrong with being prepared!
I have a feeling if you are honest with her by text AND you chat with her on the phone AND if you put something on the calendar to meet (even if it’s just drinks after work one day…or coffee/lunch…something simple) – you’ll be golden.
She probably just needs to know that you’re serious about moving things along.
That’s my take based on the information you wrote…
I’ll be curious to hear what happens!

Post Script:  I followed up with this reader.  He DID make a phone call which went pretty well… and they put a date on the calendar.  I asked him after the date how everything went.  Apparently is was great – she even said, “let’s do this again!” but then when he asked for the second date, she declined.  Aaargh… why do we DO that?  A topic for another post.

I suppose it’s true that we win some and we lose some.  And if he lost this one after giving it all he had, then maybe he dodged a bullet.

 


Let’s Get REAL…like the housewives

Ok, I admit it – I’m about to recycle and old post on you guys.  But a have a really good reason…

I’m out of ideas.

 

HA ha!! As if!

I have more ideas than I’ll probably EVER get the chance to write about…because they flood into my mind faster than I can capture them, write them up and post them. Not to mention, you all have been GREAT about submitting questions to the “Ask Sarah” page…and I plan to answer them all.  (Keep ’em coming!)

 

No, I’m reposting this because I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about boring or poorly thought-out online profiles, and it reminded me of one of my early blogs… so I thought I’d reshare.  If you’ve already read it, well – read it again in a cool accent.


 

Ubiquity is Everywhere.

 

Look.  You are no different from anyone else when it comes to the basics of what you want in a partner.  Obviously everyone is unique and has certain idiosyncrasies that set them apart in what makes them choose one over another.  But, the basics…the standard fare – is always the same.  I mean, c’mon – no one says “I’m looking for a lazy, ugly, cheating, raging, cheap man who will give me no attention or affection.”  (But if you know this girl, give her a “bless your heart” hug as soon as possible.)

So, since we’ve established that we all want the normal baseline of decent human character, can we stop TALKING about it?  I am so sick of reading profile after profile that say the same stinkin’ thing.  They all want a woman who is sweet, but also speaks her mind; who is pretty with or without makeup; who enjoys her work, but isn’t consumed by it; on and on…. something, something…blah blah…I’m alseep.

Can we start an uprising?  A revolutionary new way of approaching this?  How’s about this:  don’t say dumb stuff that’s obvious.  Say something that sets you apart.  I’m telling you – the profiles that grab my attention and make me want to send the guy a message, are those that have a flash of wit or an interesting musing or even just a silly story.  In an effort to jump start this grassroots campaign for uniqueness, I’m offering up my services – that is, I’m going to tell you how to not screw it up.

First off…guys, why do so many of your profiles say that you want an HONEST woman?  Well, duh.  Do we have to SAY that?  All you’re doing is letting everyone know that you were cheated on.  Which is sad, but it’s not particularly relevant for searching for a woman online… I mean, let’s just think this through to the end – if I’m NOT an honest woman, then obviously I’m not going to tell you I’m dishonest…that would be honest…which I’m not.  So, I can CLEARLY not choose the wine in front of you!  (If you don’t get that reference, you should have your funny gland checked… no, seriously…I’m a little concerned…)

Next, a helpful list for quick reference when writing the “about me” section:

Things EVERYone loves, so you don’t need to verbalize it:

–       Long walks on the beach.  The beach is beautiful, day or night.  Walking hand in hand with someone you love is delightful.  Who wouldn’t like to put these two things together?

–       Have fun.  ….OOOOooh.  Ok. Gotcha.

–       Staying in and watching a movie, cuddling on the couch.  Men always list this right after they’ve used that whole line about wanting a woman who can put on her heels and go out on the town, AND be able to just throw her hair up in a ponytail and relax at home.  I think they must think that we need to hear them admit to being homebodies?  Everyone likes vegging out on the sofa.  Everyone likes having someone around to snuggle with.  Again…put these together and you have a universally acceptable partner activity.

–       Laugh.  Really?  You have to say this?  You have to specify that you enjoy that thing your body naturally does…when you’re experiencing enjoyment?  Is there such a thing as a person that doesn’t like to laugh?  I mean, barring all those people with cripplingly painful laughter muscle diseases… obvi.  But, are there women out there who hate it when they laugh?  Try picturing someone laughing and hating it at the same time…kinda funny, right?  Kinda makes you want to laugh, right?  I hate that.

–       Love.   So, wait… you love love?  AND you’re on an online dating site?  That is so. weird.

–       To enjoy life to the fullest.  This one really chaps my hide.  Why do they have to be so extreme?  I mean… I like to enjoy life as much as the next guy, but…. ‘to the fullest?’  I don’t know that I’m ready for that kind of commitment…

–       Simple Pleasures.  While I prefer to have to toil tirelessly for a small amount of happiness, I suppose I can get on board with some pleasure that comes easy… it’s asking a lot, but I’ll try to power through.

And, let me just admit that I’m guilty of this too.  I guess I feel like if I DON’T list the globally understood basic  decencies I want in a person, that I’ll be that lucky girl who ends up with some soul-less sociopath, rocking in a corner somewhere, muttering to myself, “I should’ve specified that I wanted a nice, honest guy….what have I done?”

But, perhaps ….just perhaps… one day, I’ll be bold enough to take my quasi-generic checklist down and put something like this up in its stead:

“Sassy, sometimes controlling, but always fun grammar nazi seeks a man who:

– prefers real Christmas trees over fakes ones.  I mean…eww.
– will kill spiders and all manner of bug or icky-like creatures that come into my path.
– will play the radio game with me, and never stoop to letting me win.
– won’t tease me about my spray butter problem, unless it’s that adorable flirty teasing thing.
– won’t judge me for watching trash TV…and maybe will even watch a few shows with me.
– is handsome enough that I can’t resist him, but not SO perfect that I feel insecure around him.  I don’t need abs of steel… abs of a good firm back-sleeper-pillow will do just fine.
– won’t roll his eyes at my habit of turning every phrase into a song.
– will let me convince him to abandon white flour.  It’s the wave of the food future, dude.  Just surrender now.
– will let me have 5/6ths of the bed and keep the ceiling fan off.
– will watch chick-flicks with me without rolling his eyes and saying words like “formulaic”
– doesn’t consider a matinee and dinner at Chili’s a “romantic evening”
– will offer to rub my shoulders without me having to ask, from time to time
– can cook.  Or at least will join me in a culinary adventure where I cook and he’s my hunky sous chef.  Oh my….
– drinks wine.
– owns clothes other than graphic tees
– will throw a party with me… bonus points for hosting or going to a costume party where he actually dresses up.
– loves Jesus…and actually GETS that we need him.”  (whoa…heavy…)

So – there you have it.  Men of Houston, form a line and let’s do this thing.  I’m accepting 7’s and higher tonight.


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.


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.

 


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.


*-*-T-E-R and Smoocher Was her Name-O …pt. III

…isn’t it?

I don’t think it’ll come as any great shock to most of you that I like to smooch.  I do.  Are there people who DON’T?
And I give a lot of mental airtime to the idea of kissing… after all, not only is it fun to do, but I honestly think it is a significant form of communication and connection.

Now, this doesn’t mean I go throwing it around…and I’m happy to define my terms here, but when I’m on a date and I’m learning about the guy… if I feel an attraction, why wouldn’t I want to know how he communicates in that way?

Let me be clear…there are all sorts of ways to kiss.
There are sweet short kisses that tell you what you need to know and simultaneously impress you in their restraint,
and then all the way at the other end of the continuum, you’re muggin’ down on the couch of some wine bar for all the world to see.
And then, … in some rare cases, thre are those dates that end with your neck getting licked…like a dog.
No, I do not lie.  My dear friend went on a date that ended just like that.  No kiss.  No makeout session.  Just one long clean lick of the neck and off he went… probably to go chase a tennis ball.
Say it with me:  “Guh-ross.”

So, today’s 2-part question is – how does kissing play into the beginning phase of the dating process…and how does it affect the relationship afterward, if you decide to stay friends?

Everyone is different with their “rules.”  (By the way, if you think you don’t have rules and that you just “go with the flow” and see where the wind takes you, you’re wrong.  You may be open to spontaneity, but you have boundaries and lines you won’t cross…they may not be as tidy and defined as mine, but you’ve got ’em.  We all do.  For instance, one of my rules (now), is – ‘no second date if he licks me.’  Just sayin’…).
But everyone differs on whether they’ll kiss on the first date, and if so, what KIND of smooch it’ll be…
For me, it’s less about a line in the sand I’ve made, and more about the nature of the date.  If we are connecting and enjoying each other and there’s a natural opportunity for a kiss, I’m going to go for it.  After all – it’s more information!  Is he a good kisser?  (as defined my more than technique… looking for passion and thoughtfulness… to see more about how I gauge a kiss, check out this post.)  My time is limited and if I go on 5 dates with a guy before ever getting smooched, only to find that he’s inconsiderate, overly aggressive, or a myriad other deal-killers, those are 5 dates worth of nights I’m never getting back!

I know some of you are thinking…. well, what if that makes you too easy?
Look…I’m not giving away the whole enchilada… just a kiss.
It matches my personality – outgoing, expressive, passionate.

And… to clarify…I go on PLENTY of first dates where I DON’T kiss.  It’s not a given.  It just isn’t ‘off’ the table.

In some cases, I’ve had girlfriends who kissed on the first date and then never heard back from the guy.  They thought that maybe it was because they’d “given too much away on the first date.”
Doubtful.
I dare say I’ve never met ANY guy who wouldn’t call a girl back for a second date because she kissed him at the end of the date.  Not unless the kiss was BAD….or something ELSE was going on.  Readers, feel free to disagree with me.

Next…post-snogging relationships.  If you decide to take your relationship to the friend zone (“Iiiii’ve been to the fri-iend zone…fri-iend zone… take me riiiiiight into-oooooooo the frie-end zooooone……. ok, sorry…I simply couldn’t resist it), and you’ve already been to smoochville?  Simple answer.  Just talk about it.  One converstaion is all it will take.  Quick and dirty.  Something like this:
Hey – you’re so fun.  I’d love to keep this friendship going, but I just don’t think we’re a good romantic match.  And yes…I know… we’ve kissed.  But I can be cool about it if you can.”  Boom.  Done.
Who knows…you may even laugh about it.  You MAY even be able to give each other tips for going forward!  It HAS been known to happen.

Basically, I’m saying there’s no need to be afraid of kissing.

BUT.   (and, naturally, I’m assuming the appropriate high school youth pastor posture as I say this)…
know your limits and lines going INTO a date.
It may sound parental and silly, given that many of us are adults in our 30’s, 40’s and up… but I still have to remind myself of my standards and ‘rules’ for physical connection.  And if I know what I will and won’t do on a date, going into it, that frees me up to be able to enjoy a snog-fest, should it come my way.


*-A-T-E-R and Caller Was her Name-O …pt. II

We left off last time with giving your phone number out easily and freely… because… why not?

So, then what?
Maybe you get a flirty banter going…and then on to a date.  Fantastic!

But sometimes you get the most charming back and forth on the phone or text, but it just sits there indefinitely… ugh…

Let’s look at the case of my friend:  we’ll call her Karen.  She met a guy on a 20-mile bike ride/race/drinking thing…(sounds fun, huh?  Except for the biking part).  They talked on and off for 2 hours, ended up having a smooch fest in the parking lot and he put his number into her phone.  The next day he called, but quickly had to get off the phone for some technical difficulty issue, but texted her promptly thereafter.  Then, nothing.

Karen wanted to know if she should shoot him a text to let him know she was still interested.  I said, DEFINITELY.  I mean, …again – what’s the harm?  If he likes her, he’ll be glad to know he’s not alone and that she is intrigued as well.  If he is done with her, then she has nothing to lose.  He’s already a loser.  Ya know?

She (wisely) took my advice and was emboldened to write him back.  They’ve been texting ever since, but sporadically.  They’ll go strong for a while and then nothing…and then she’s left wondering if she should initiate again to pick it back up or if that will create a bad habit of her always having to light the communication fire.  Also… it’s now been over 2 weeks of on/off texting and he hasn’t asked her out again.  She’s pretty traditional and won’t do the asking…so here we sit.  And wait.  In textual, but stagnant land.
(which, by clarification, is not nearly as much fun as the title suggests…)

This brings up an interesting point I’ve noticed as I’ve talked with my single friends, and as I’ve been on ‘the scene’ myself.

1.  Women (other than myself) often don’t want to be the initiators of texting or getting together –
NOT because they’re shy or old-fashioned, but because they don’t want to set a precedent early on that they will be the take-control person in the relationship.  Many of my friends have expressed fear that if they act more assertively in asking a guy out, that he’ll take the cue and run with it…never to pursue her again.  And that will define their relationship forever…him being lazy in the back seat and her being forced to “nag” him into action.  Ick.

And yet, I don’t think they’re all wrong.  I also don’t think that initiating the first meet-up necessarily turns them into the rat in the skinner box either – ever conditioned to be on the sidelines of the dating relationship and never to take the reigns.  But, this is how the tricky world of dating gets so convoluted….she doesn’t want to be read as the necessary agressor, he doesn’t want to move forward not knowing if she’s truly interested or only game-playing…so neither of them paddles the boat…and so it sits.  Unmoving in the middle of the lake.  Wow…exciting stuff…

Sigh…it’s like we’re on a giant strategy game board and and each piece is pacing and darting…just watching and waiting to see how to best make their move in such a way that they’ll save face, not look like an idiot, pursue with enthusiasm but not be seen as overly agresive, and still be thought of as romantic and sweet, but not TOO sweet or doormat-ish, …….it’s EXHAUSTING!

Next time…does mugging down hurt your chances of a second date?  (or a real first date?… or being friends later?)


D-A-T-E-R and Flirter Was her Name-O …pt. I

 

 

A friend recently asked me about how to know when it’s the right time to give out your number, and how/when to initiate conversation after meeting someone, including texting, etc. and as a woman, where the line is of initiating/driving the communication.  
Whew!  
Good stuff, let’s just dive right in.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that this is an area of struggle for me because my natural tendency is to aggressively pursue something I see that I like…but I’ve gotten into trouble being too pushy after an initial good first date/meeting and it’s spooked guys.  So, let me BEGIN with the full disclosure clause, that I MAY not be the best source of wisdom on this matter.  Between curiosity and naive optimism… I will text/hound a guy until he has to practically pry my proverbial fingers off of him.  Sexy, huh?

That being said…I always have lots of opinions!

First – how/when to give out your number… 

I’m a big proponent of giving it out quickly.  BE BOLD, ladies!  What’s the harm? 
To me, texting and talking are much faster methods of assessing whether there could be a love connection than the messaging systems on the online dating sites (especially the eHarm…good GRIEF…I grow at least 6 gray hairs every time I have to wait for a guy to “respond to my closed ended questions,” etc…. snore… I’m asleep.  Wake me up when there’s an atual DATE on the table).

So, if I’m messaging someone and he seems like a potential match, I’ll usually throw out the digits pretty quickly and even ask him if he’s interested in grabbing a drink sometime.  There is NO time to waste!!  Life is short (and often smoochless), so…I say, strike while the iron is handsome.

And when I’m out and about – if I meet a cute guy without a wedding ring, I’ll often pass him my number as I leave the place (coffeehouse, bar/restaurant, taxodermist’s office…you know…the usuals).  It can be anything from striking up conversation and then giving him my card (I’ll tell you later about the cards I ALWAYS carry with me), to literally scrawling on a napkin, something flirty and simple like: 
You’re cute.  I’m cute.  We should go grab a drink sometime and be cute together.  555-123….” 
(I know, right?  WHAT are the odds that my cell number starts out just like all the phone numbers in the movies?  Crazy.)

But, once you get beyond the initial phone number exchange…then what? 

Tune in tomorrow to find out…


10 Mistakes Every Guy Should Avoid – pt. 2

Let’s just pick right up in the barren wasteland where we left off, shall we?

6.  No punching.

Do I need to review the rules of behavior from Kindergarten playground days?
(Actually….. (strokes invisible Fu Manchu ‘stache)… that wouldn’t be a bad idea for a blog post… things you learned on the Kindergarten playground that apply to your dating life now.  So, I’ll work on the title, whatevs)

I don’t want to see you making your most menacing face, assuming the bully stance and capturing your clenched fist in the shot.  I see – no lie – at least one of these a week.

Did I miss some macabre memo where women want to see a guy’s “rage-y” side?  Last I heard, we liked when men were kind and sweet and used their hands to stroke our hair or rub our feet, not threaten abuse.  But, then, what do I know… perhaps they’re going for a Chris Brown sorta vibe?  (too soon…?)

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7.  Messaging a woman multiple times when she’s clearly not interested.

Look… I just don’t have the time to reply to every man who messages me.

If I think I’m interested, I’ll write back.

If I’m not interested, but his message is sweet or charming, I’ll often write back.

But, if I’m not interested at all, I move on.  No time to waste.

Why do guys think that if a woman hasn’t written back, that the best course of action is to keep bugging her?

Sure, there’s something to be said for persistence (maybe TWO messages), but when you just can’t stop… we call that a stalker.

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8.  Photos of you with your car.

Unless you are an auto-mechanic, a car salesman or a pimp, this really isn’t relevant.  I don’t want to see pictures OF your car, and I don’t even want to see photos of you posing WITH your car like you’re some 1980’s magazine model.  You are not.

If you’re into cars, great.  Tell me that in the written part of your profile.  You don’t see me snapping photos of my bargain finds from Sam Moon or the latest mortar ‘n pestle I found for perfectly muddling my mint, do you?  The only reason for putting the cars in there is to brag that they’re either expensive or particularly manly.  That’s lame.  Stop doing it, MmmmK?

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9.  Tattoo shots.

You may be thinking, “hey, these people are just showing a piece of their personality.  Or, maybe you’re thinking, “they’re letting you know that they HAVE a tattoo, in case you’re not a “tattoo person” (which, incidentally, I’m not).
But I postulate that it’s just a cheap excuse to show off their bodies/muscles.  It’s like the male equivalent to the gratuitous cleavage photo.

 

 

What’s worse is that half the time, ALL they have on their profiles are the tat pics.

No faces, jut skulls.

No charming smiles, just flames and crosses.

No “check out my friends and I at last year’s Halloween Pub Crawl!”…only unintelligible Chinese characters and old girlfriends’ names.  Really?  (Sighs…)

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10.  Abs.
They’re great…but I don’t need to see you pulling up your shirt to show them off.

Look – women certainly appreciate a guy who’s fit – I’d be lying if I said otherwise.  We also like a guy who’s strong – it appeals to that primal desire for a protector.  But, we’re not sitting around dreaming about a man with tight abs.  Seriously.

In fact, if I was to make a list of qualities women look for (say I polled 1,000 women), I’m willing to bet that “a wicked 6-pack” doesn’t even crack the top 25.  Am I alone here, ladies?

Show me a photo where you’re smiling ear to ear or caught mid-laugh, and I’m yours.  Cutting off your head so as to get a focused shot of your abs…I’m not yours.

Well, there you go… for now.

I’m sure there are a hundred more “tips” I could provide, based on my unfortunately protracted foray into the online dating profile world, but…. .baby steps.