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Online Dating World

Marriage Proposal Monday

So the other night, I’m sitting in my PJ’s, about to go elbow deep into some microwave popcorn, when my phone vibrates with a message from a friend, telling me she just received a marriage proposal from a guy online.  A guy she’d never met.  A guy she’d never even messaged/talked with.

This is blog fodder GOLD, friends.

I’ll just let you see.

marriage proposal setup

 

Oooooooooh yeeeeeah, baby.  I was drunk with power… what to say?  What to do?

Was it my place to steer this poor lost lad in proper online dating courtship methods?  You know… stuff like, don’t lead off with lifelong commitment?  After all – with great power comes great responsibility.
Or could I just have some fun with him?

I think you all can probably guess…I chose the latter.

Enjoy.

marriage proposal

So there you have it.  I feel I’ve really done some good in this world.

I’m like a SuperHero of online dating, basically.  The Dark Knight (or is it Knightess?) of cyber love.
And you all are my co-voyeurs.

You’re welcome.


Dating in an LOL World

Things are not as they seem.  …or as they USED to be… I just used “lol” in the middle of sentence in a text…and I wasn’t L-ing at all, certainly not OL. I don’t even recognize myself… What has HAPPENED to me? I’ll tell you – the same thing that’s happened in the world of dating – the rules have changed. Sigh… Oh, how they’ve changed. And “Lol” is only the beginning… I used to be the biggest stickler about this one – I’d only ever type “lol” if I had actually ‘laughed out loud,’ (which of course I do often, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch). But, now, if I audibly laugh, I feel the need to type something like, “LOL!  I ACTUALLY laughed!  Out loud!” I mean, mercy!  Isn’t the point of having those three letters, so that you DON’T have to type out a play-by-play of your comedic response? The term and use of “lol” have changed since its inception.  It no longer means you actually laughed…it just means something is laughABLE, or even mildly amusing.  People use it to poke fun at a situation or themselves… it’s become a texting tic. And it’s not the only phrase that’s seen an evolution in its use and meaning.

The dating world is full of phrases, ideas, and expectations that don’t mean nearly what they used to.

A couple examples :

1.  “Hang out” used to mean spending time with someone – maybe meeting for a drink or to take a walk.  Now it means, “give me directions to your home – I’ll bring the ruffies.” russian BC 1 Russian BC


 

2.  “Hooking up” used to mean – connecting with someone once you were both out on the town. [e.g. “Cool, I’m out with a friend now…let’s hook up later and grab a beer!“]
Now it also means – have casual sex.  (I’m noticing a pattern here).


 

And not only have the phrases/lingo changed, expectations and ideals have shifted dramatically.

A few of the myriad ways:
1.  The age of a man complimenting a woman is gone.  If you find a man who will verbally appreciate your beauty or character, he’s a rare gem and you should put a ring on it.

2.  Major declarations of intentions or significant messages can now be delivered via text, and it’s not rude.   Texting someone that it’s not a good match, or conversely, that you REALLY like them… isn’t cheating.  It used to be that texting was for quick logistics, or for lazy people, but sentiment was left for the phone or in person.  Not anymore.  And that’s ok…if you know it. The problem with this one is that not everyone is on the same page.  So, feelings get hurt or people feel underappreciated.  You have people like me who’d rather NOT talk on the phone…I’m a text or in-person kinda gal… upsetting those who still want an old-fashioned phone convo.  Sigh…

3.  A first date is no longer necessarily an all-night event.  Where there used to be an expectation of dinner and a movie, now there’s just coffee or one drink.  In fact, truth be told, most of us in the online dating scene, would prefer a quick 5-minute meet-up to be sure you do, in fact, have all (ok, most?) of your teeth, you smell relatively normal, don’t give off that “I may have a few dead hookers in my backyard shed” vibe, look remotely similar to your online photos, and don’t get that crusty foamy stuff in the corners of your mouth. Yeah…the bar is nice and low, friends.

4.  In the olden days (you know…that nebulous period of “feels like forever ago”…), a man would meet a woman who intrigued him, and immediately ask her to dinner or, depending on how ‘olden’ we’re talking, to join him for parlor games with his parents at the plantation.  (I’m making this stuff up as I go, folks… and the bulk of my ‘olden days’ dating knowledge comes from vampire novels, but stick with me).  Nowadays, a guy will sit on a potentially great relationship for WAY too long without initiating a face-to-face meeting.  I have girlfriends who have been messaging guys for WEEKS and there’s no talk of “we should get together!”  WHAT?  If someone is exciting enough to send messages to every day, don’t you want to be sure you’re not chatting with a tech-savvy 12-year old named Aiden or Tate or something equally nauseating? I, for one, am all for the quick-to-meet philosophy.  What do you have to lose?  If the person is interesting in person, they’re still going to be so by text.  But if they turn out to be a me-monster, or insanely insecure…don’t you want to cross them off the list before wasting weeks of well-crafted flirty texts?

 

There are countless other ways that dating has changed, but I’ll close us out today with a most bizarre scenario that happened with me a few weeks ago – where my humor (and only a sliver of the ocean of funniness within me, truth be told) cost me a first date.

 

Met this guy on Match – he messaged me first… we took it to texting and made a plan to meet a couple days after the New Year.  We were just making small talk – he was sick, I was busy, blah blah…boring stuff… this is why I’m quick to meet with someone. We checked in with each other every day or so, but with the holidays, it was busy and since I hadn’t yet determined that he was ‘full throttle adorable text’-worthy, it was limited communication.  I was just looking forward to meeting him and seeing if there was real potential there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then this happened…. What?
I mean… what?

 

Billy 1

Billy 2

I like to think I stay ‘up’ on the ever shifting shadows of the modern dating world, but this one even caught me by surprise. Apparently a random insertion of cat allergy discussion is NOT a laughing matter… and I was supposed to be doting on this guy, by text, more intensely than I was… before ever meeting and establishing that there’s chemistry at all.

Ah well… lesson learned. But, no love lost, he used WAY too many emoticons anyway.
And if THAT’S not a red flag, …well then I don’t know what is.


The shop around the cyber-corner

In this gift-giving season that’s upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about shopping.

I love to shop.
But, not necessarily in that female stereotypical way… so, if you’re thinking, “no way… I hate malls…,”
I get it.  I can identify with not being the “typical” ‘loves-to-shop’ woman–

Heck, in a city where we’ve taken the idea of a mall and turned it into a metropolis-sized temple of materialism…
I practically need a wee dram of scotch and a football quality pep talk to brave Houston’s Galleria.

BUT…. Give me wifi, a mouse and a reasonable budget…and I’m your girl.

shopping 1Right now I’m in the market for a scrunchy, tall, black, suede-esque pair of boots… comfortable, yet fashion-forward – and under $40.  I’ve had the darndest time finding exactly what I’m looking for,  (it might surprise you to find I’m particularly picky…), but the search continues.

I’ve gone to several local shoe stores, to no avail.  So – I had to turn to the ‘ol interwebs… you get so many more options and filters…surely I’ll find what I’m looking for THERE…

And it occured to me… what if online shopping could be even better….
if you could streamline your requests, and add in all kinds of perks to the process while you search?

Well – I dare say it can!
With online dating.  The ULTIMATE shopping experience.  Hear me out…

shopping 4There is no other place in the world that you can fine-tune your specific requirements for your “purchase” quite like online dating.

Sure, when you’re buying shoes, you can narrow down the search by color, size, price… big woo…
With MAN shopping, you can narrow your search by height, weight, income, body-type, personality-type, religious preferences, number of kids, marital history, age, sexual preferences, location, political stance, ability to answer logic problems (not kidding!), education, income, and a hundred other factors.

PLUS you get to read essays they’ve written (which lets you know if they can write well, if they have a sense of humor, and if they’ve come to terms with the fact that “alot” is not a word.)

You also get to see how they’ve answered a bevy of questions ranging from their thoughts on dating/marriage, to how they’ll raise kids, to where they’d like to vacation, to whether you should buy real or fake Christmas trees…you know – the stuff that MATTERS.

But, it’s really so much more.  Online dating is the only shopping experience where you get these added benefits:

 

Unlimited Test Driving.

Sure, car dealers will let you take a car for a spin… MAYBE, if you’re lucky, you can keep it overnight.
But that’s it.shopping 3

Online dating lets you take the “car” out as many times as you need to, to know it’s the one.  Yeah…it may claim to have a sweet moon roof and Bose stereo system… but until you’re feeling the warm glow of moon light on your face and hearing “O Fortuna” in surround sound…who’s to say it’s not an empty promise?

Same goes for men.  Gotta see it to believe it.  He REALLY values family?  He’s REALLY romantic?  He REALLY puts the toilet seat down?  Hey – Time will tell.

And you get all the time you need.

 

Great return policy

If you find a product you like… and your shopping days are over… but then, tragedy strikes and he turns out NOT to be the one… you don’t only have 30 days…or 60… or even 90…
You can return your purchase ANY time you want, in whatever condition you want – no questions asked.shopping 2

Unless someone’s put a ring on someone, dumpers and dumpees are free to get back online to begin looking for an even better match.  Talk about customer service.

 

Constantly updated sales team & Product Turnover

Unlike Target (*kisses two fingers and holds ‘em up in the air out of respect for the mother ship*), you’re not going to see last summer’s flip-flops being pawned off as the next trend.  Sure…they may still be somewhere in the Fall line… but new merchandise is constantly being added.  Every time I’m on an online dating site, there are new faces/matches to review.  And the stores (sites) themselves are ever evolving for their customer needs.

 

shopping 5I could go on… but, as Dec. 25th creeps closer and closer, you need all the time you can get to do your regular, old-fashioned shopping.

So, shop with abandon.
But remember, if it’s a relationship you’re in the market for, your odds are much better than finding those “black suede boots.”

So – happy holidays and happy shopping!


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…

 


Boyfriend Sharing

sharingAre we not taught from our early years the value of sharing?

If you want to play with my toy and I’m done with it… the polite thing to do is let you have a turn.
What if my toy is a man?

So many times, I’ve gone out with a guy and within the first few minutes, thought to myself, “he’s not for me.  But, man, my friend ____ would love him!”  (Yeah… I have a friend who’s name is “______”).

Sure, it’s less than ideal for ME, but I’m hoping what goes around will come around.

dim sum

And, let’s face it – until the day when my fantasy of dim sum dating becomes a reality
(this is where you wait for each personality trait you want to come around the conveyor belt, pick out all the ones you like and create the perfect mate), this could be a delightful stopgap.

How cool would it be if I could e-mail him the next day, give him my ‘we’re not a good match’ line and then offer up a consolation date?  And vice versa.  When a guy goes out with me… I WELCOME him coming back to me and saying… “you’re not the girl for me, but I have a buddy who’d be perfect for you!”  I mean… if you’ve written, texted, called and had a first date, then you at least have an IDEA of the person’s personality and preferences…even moreseo than someone has after reading an online dating profile.  So – in one sense – who BETTER to set you up?

Problem is – (well, two problems) – this involves rejection and stigma.

The rejection piece is hard.  It’s life, yes.  But, it sucks.  Having someone tell you they aren’t into you, BUT… they have a friend…… well, they’ve still just lowered the boom of rejection, no matter how much they softened the blow with an alternative.  So – yeah – we’d have to get over that piece of it…

And then there’s the idea rolling around the back of most people’s head… “isn’t this tacky?”  A social stigma that we don’t just throw people around until they land on something that sticks.

And yet… what better system for set-ups is there?  Ok, ok… close friends and family may take the first spot on the list.  …but I dare say that I’d rather be set up by someone I spent a couple of no-spark-feelin’ hours with, than by the ‘robot’ inside Match.com… wouldn’t you?

Plus – think of the permutations.  Sure, you can set “I love to camp” Joe up with “I’m outdoorsy” Jane… but there’s also a group option here.  Like – I end a date with a guy and throw his stats out to my ready group of single girlfriends.  I include his photo and contact information and it’s up to them to scoop him up!?  The guy could potentially have dates lined up for the next 3 weeks just by not connecting with me!

One man’s trash….

sharing 2

Emoticons are EVERYTHING in this situation…

So – who’s WITH me?  I’m not even joking here.  If I have a bank of interested parties, I’m all OVER trying this out.

In fact, the next time I go out with a quality guy, but one who doesn’t have that ‘spark’ with me… I’m going to give this a go.  AAAaaaand…. write about it.

 

Now, I just have to find a date…


Good Fellas

I’ve gotten a few discouraged e-mails over this last week from readers (I think it was the “let me sniff it” message that really put a damper on peoples’ confidence in the world), so I thought I’d do a “nice post.”  Here are a few sweet or clever messages/profiles I’ve received/seen in the last few weeks.

There ARE good guys out there.  Their profiles may not make us simultaneously spit out our drink laughing while simultaneously dying a little inside…like most of the ones I post – but they exist.  And we should be glad they do.  Here’s some proof:

good fellas - nice smileHow sweet is this?


pick-up line - cleverA little nerdy, but adorable.


awesome shotHow AWESOME is this photo?  I had to “biggen it up” to really soak in its awesomeness.  I don’t know how many attemps it took to make this work,
but I LOVE it.


nice message 2 (more…)


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!


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.


Stalking is Sexy

I think we’ve already established that dates are like interviews.  Anyone on the dating scene knows this to be true.  And if you prepare for an interview, wouldn’t you do the same for a date?

But, today’s question is – how much “preparation” is ok?  And when does pre-date prep stalking research cross the line into a place that will actually HURT your chances at a successful date?

I’m a big believer in using the variety of tools at your disposal to be prepared.  But, how far is too far?

Many times, I will Google a guy before even agreeing to a date at all.  I don’t always have this privilege because it requires having some basic information (last name, where he works, etc.) that online dating doesn’t always afford you, but if I can – I do.  I will Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other available cyber stalk.  And what am I looking for?  I just like to get a sense of his personality outside of the profile HE wrote about himself.  I also don’t mind verifying that he actually has a job.

Honestly, I’m really not usually looking for “dirt,” I just want to get a broader sense of who he is!  Is his FB page full of political rants?  Photos of family?  Annoyingly “inspirational” posters?  What is he passionate about?  What does he like to DO?  Could I show his Facebook profile to my mother?  Does he play Farmville?  This is very important. I say yes to Words-With-Friends and an emphatic no to Farmville.  They’re very different sorts of guys…  It’s like the Bloods and the Crips…only less stabby.  But, back to our topic…

I know that some women will take it to the next level(s) as well:
– if they’re going out with an alleged millionaire, they can check out whether his company is registered with Companies House
– if the guy claims to be a musician, she can look for him on MySpace, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, etc.
– and I’ve even had women I know call in favors from law enforcement family members and friends to run background checks.

This is certainly not exclusive to women.  I know men pre-date-stalk too.  In fact, the impetus for this post was a guy friend who started reading the blog of the woman he was going to go on a date with and asked me if I thought that was inappropriate.
(Inappropriate, not because it was ‘creeper’y, but because…is there such a thing as knowing ‘too much’?)

The trend seems to be – women would rather know more about a man ahead of time and men would rather discover these things in person.  Why, you say?  Well…that may be enough fuel for a whole other post, but …it has to do with trust, insecurities, fears, etc…. cheery stuff.

Here is my stance on all of this.  I think it’s fine to collect as much information as you want to before a date.  But the tipping point of how it will GO for you, is in HOW you use your information.

First…know that every piece of information you have – you have OUT of context of the whole person.  So, while it may be integral  data to your processing, it needs to be paired with the REAL person.  Meeting and talking with someone face-to-face will ALWAYS shed light on who they are, no matter how much preliminary data you’ve collected.  And once you have a feel for the real person, every bit of information before and going forward is now filtered through that lens.

An innocuous example of this is my blog.  I’ve had people criticize its tone as being harsh or mean… but the people who KNOW me, “hear” my “voice” as they read it and hence, hear it as dry-humor or the silly rants of a woman who has a soft heart.  They’ve seen my face, heard my voice, seen the tilt of my head or the wink of my eye as I say things, and now when they read, THAT’s the Sarah they ‘hear.’  This works with people you date as well.  So – remember that all that information you gathered ahead of time is SANS real person.

Next…no overshares.  When you’re going on a job interview, you WANT the potential employer to know you took the time to research their company, learn about the history, management, stats, etc.  This impresses them.  This does NOT impress dates.  Just to clarify.

As in… do not lead in with any talking points, “So, when I read that article you wrote your junior year of college…inspiring.”  Or, “those pictures of you in the bathtub when you were four are just precious.”……. chirp…. wide eyes… not a great date-starter.

The trick is to USE your information wisely.  Remember…with great knowledge comes great responsibility.
(What…that’s NOT how it goes?  Well… consider that my own pithy rule of thumb then.)

Knowing tidbits about your date is a great insider edge when making conversation, but use it sparingly and mostly as information in the back of your mind that helps fill in the master portrait of who they are.

If people will get to know the WHOLE person in the dating process, we’ll be that much closer to living lives of authenticity.  And in then end… that is what will make a relationship work.

 


Speed Dating – 2.0

Some of you may remember my first foray into speed dating last summer…which, aside from the entertaining story it provided and a friend I made in the process, was a colossal failure.  When you endure a 5-min. long detailed description of a man’s recent toe surgery, you pretty much know you’re not walkin’ away with a life love… or a man who can walk correctly at all, really.

But this week, I participated in Match.com’s version and it was considerably more successful.  Sit back and let me tell you the tale.

Let me begin by saying that I DIG the idea of speed dating.  I think anyone on the dating scene can agree that in 5 minutes, you know if your date is someone you want to spend the rest of your date with or if you’d rather be home watching Storage Wars.  So, the premise is simple and reasonable – 5 minute dates with several men, and if you liked what you saw, you could contact them (or they, you) for a real date.

Eighteenth Cocktail Bar

Eighteenth Cocktail Bar

The event was held at the charming Prohibition-themed “Eighteenth Cocktail Bar” near Rice Village, and Match.com had supplied SEVENTEEN dates!  Not shabby.

I was greeted by an enthusiastic woman who gave me the run-down of the night and passed me on to another fun, charismatic personality (I would later covet her job) who signed me in.  There was about a half an hour of mingle time where people could get drinks, food and chat.  That’s the only part I would’ve done differently had they asked ME to run the show… not everyone is comfortable making conversation ex nihilo.  I think an icebreaker type of cheesy game would’ve helped the non-extroverts of the group ease into the night.IMG_5335

I was fine because I ooze conversation, but even for me, it was a stretch – so I can only imagine how the less “Sarah-ish” folks fared.

One of the nicest guy there

One of the nicest guys there

So, I got my perfectly crafted mojito and sidled up to a few folks to start chatting.  The girls were great and the guys seemed …well… normal!  I didn’t see anyone right from the beginning who caught my eye on looks alone, but the personalities were enjoyable for sure.

Finally, the woman in charge (did I mention I want her job?) got everyone’s attention and gave us a run-through of how it would work, including directing everyone’s attention to things like table numbers, list/notes for the night, and suggested icebreaker questions/conversation starters for those people who can’t think of how to move conversation along for the ENTIRE five minutes… hmmm…  She was great, though.  Her introduction helped bring a shared humanity and recognition of a collective nervousness to the event that evened things out a bit.

Our host and a kindred spirit (meaning that she was loud and vivacious....like your favorite blogger)

Our host and a kindred spirit
(meaning that she was loud and vivacious….like your favorite blogger)

We got started and I sat at table 12 (I’d like call it “the best table” from here forward…) to await all my 5-min. suitors.

And they trickled in, one by one, shaking my hand, introducing themselves to me and asking questions to get to know me.  I will say this – most of these guys were quite lovely – they have good jobs, they were intelligent, capable of making conversation and asking me about myself and they were (mostly) appropriately complimentary.

IMG_5331

There were exceptions, of course… a couple of the guys talked WAY too much about themselves, filling the entire 5 minutes with talking about the details of their jobs and how important they are, and never asking me anything about myself.  But, hey – that’s life… better to happen on a 5-min date than a 45-min one (or worse!)

Some guys were simply drinking too much.  When a guy sits down and he’s obviously drunk…well, let’s just say – you’re grateful for the 5 minute limit.
(related note…any blurry photos were taken by people who couldn’t master the button pushing because of inebriation.  Let me apologize in advance for them).

Being goofy with some of the folks after the fact

Being goofy with some of the folks after the fact

This guy (dubbed "the coolest guy in the room" by the moderator) and the person taking the shot...were quite drunk.  Sigh...

This guy (dubbed “the coolest guy in the room” by the moderator) and the person taking the shot…were quite drunk. Sigh…

One gentleman was especially smarmy.  He started out great…asking me a unique ice-breaker question, “What were you doing on New Year’s Eve?”

I answered him, telling him I was at a party with a singles group I coordinate,

and he went on to ask what the IDEAL New Year’s Eve night would look like for me…

IMG_5339
…interrupting me to grab my hand in his,
scoot slightly uncomfortably close and remarking,
“You have the reddest lips and fantastic breasts!”

(record scratches)…

Um….. thank you?  …man I’ve known for 42 seconds…?

So, that was fun.

 

 

About halfway through the evening, the MC announced a short break and, as I’m sure you can imagine, the ladies’ restroom was abuzz with debriefing.  It was like a sociological study in there – listening to all of us exchanging stories and anecdotes and talking in general about the world of dating…fascinating stuff.  If Match.com wants the REAL scoop on what people were thinking of the event, all they’d need to do is plant a mole in the Women’s restroom and listen.

IMG_5329

I honestly could’ve ended the evening there – conversing and laughing with the other women – but duty called and I returned to my post.

At the beginning of the night, I’d tried to make contact with all the people in “charge” of the event, including a manager of the restaurant and the bartenders helping us out.  I guess I made an impression because right smack dab in the middle of one of my 5-min-dates, the bartender came over to me and brought two shots of some delicious melon drink – one for him (the bartender!  Not my date!) and me.

Bartending twins...totes adorbs.

Bartending twins…totes adorbs.

It cracked me up – and I didn’t quite know how to navigate the situation except to diffuse the awkwardness with humor, so I thanked him and told my ‘date’ that he was probably making up for snatching my not-yet-finished mojito from the table while I’d been in the bathroom.  Still… it was hilarious and flattering to be interrupted during the shortest possible date, by a man offering me a free drink.

 

 

Photo taken by the aforementioned "coolest guy" (perhaps we should name him the "drinkiest guy?") Thanks for at least getting PART of my face in there, fella...

Photo taken by the aforementioned “coolest guy” (perhaps we should name him the “drinkiest guy?”)
Thanks for at least getting PART of my face in there, fella…

SO… there were several men who helped vindicate my enduring faith in online dating – that is,…they’re great guys who will make someone very happy I’ll bet.  But none for me.

Although…there was ONE guy there who was quite fascinating to talk with… friendly, handsome, engaging, witty… sound familiar?  Yup – it was Raul!  (For those of you who haven’t been reading the blog long, Raul is a close friend I made via online dating.  We simultaneously and mutually agreed that we weren’t a romantic match, but we’ve had a fantastic friendship ever since.)

He was there!  What are the odds?  (OK, maybe he heard me talking about it and decided to go WAAaaay outside of his comfort zone and come check it out.  He’s guest posted a couple of times on here, and… he’s going to post TOMORROW about HIS perspective from the night!

At the end, I snapped some photos with folks who agreed to let me splatter their faces all over the interwebs, said my goodbyes and went on my merry way.

In retrospect, there’s really only one thing I would’ve done differently.  I think a classy move all around, would be to put a tip jar on my table.  You know – I’d pad it with a couple of ones and let the cash roll in.  I mean… as each guy left his 5-minute date, I could give it a subtle tap-tap with my fingernail, as if to say, “I’m not saying a sizeable tip would increase your chances of another date……but…..”
Hey – money talks.  Let’s make it rain, boys.

What…??  I might be sassy and confident, but this single mama’s gotta make a living!
As Daniel Tosh says, I’m a baller on a budget.

The next day, I got a few messages from guys who were there…but not many.  I suspect that Raul got considerably more… we’ll have to wait and see.  But, I hypothesize that my lack of enthusiasm over any one guy was obvious…I’m known to be pretty transparent.  I don’t think I was at ALL rude or unkind.  I had FUN with these guys.  But, I also think they walked away thinking, “that was fun.  But, I don’t think she likes me enough for a date.”

speed dating 1

 

speed dating 2

 

Speed dating 3

 

All told, I consider the event a success.  I didn’t go in thinking I’d probably find love, so I wasn’t disappointed… but I WAS encouraged by a room full of well-adjusted (mostly) folks looking for the same thing I am… that connection with that one person… and they haven’t given up hope.  THEY are all still searching like I am – still believing that it’s out there to be found.  And that’s nice to see.


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

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

 

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

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

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

Good Message 1

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

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

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

Good Profile 1

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

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

Now… on to a date I had recently.

(Isn’t this fun?)

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

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

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

David 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David 2 - MoonTowerInn

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

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

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

And that is precisely what we did.

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

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

 

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

 


Stairway to Taboo Conversations – Pt. IV

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

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

Enjoy.  Or disagree…  Either way – read on!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R. Garment, Pastor & Counselor


 

There you have one man’s response.

What about you guys?  Weigh in, readers!


Stairway to Taboo Conversations – pt. III

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

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

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

What do I believe?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My friend Christyn put it like this,

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

For me, they do.

 

 

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

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

 

That same friend who I just quoted, added,

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Is that too much to ask for?



Stairway to Taboo Conversations – Pt. II

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

 

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

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

at OK Cupid

OK Cupid

at Match.com

Match.com

at Zoosk

Zoosk

at Plenty of Fish

Plenty of Fish and eVow


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Here’s just one example of that:

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

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

Luke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Luke texts

 

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

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

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

 

So, I press on.

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

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

Ok, fine, it doesn’t…….

 


New Dating Sweetheart on the Scene – eVow

Quick note:

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

Alright – on to today’s post…


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

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

Subject: Plenty of Fish isn’t for relationships?

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

Good question!

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

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

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

eVow 1

Uuuummm…..

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

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

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

eVow 2

Kinda cool.  And different.

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

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

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

eVow 3

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

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

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

eVow 4

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

Because I LIKE this idea!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So, there you have it.

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

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

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

Whaaaat?


 

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

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

eVow 5

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

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

 

😉

PostScript over.


Stairway to Taboo Conversations

prayer time

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

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

That’s EVERYONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


12 Dates and Beyond

Kind of like Bed Bath and Beyond, but way sexier…

So here we are at the end of the 12 Dates series AND at the end of the year, so I thought I’d take a moment to look back on both.

First, the numbers:

17 years age range
11 men
10 good dates
9 restaurants
6 kisses
5 pubs
4 dating sites
3 cities
2 shows
1 lost skirt

I’ve done improv comedy,
walked the zoo at night,
2-stepped,
salsa danced,
worked my way through a scavenger hunt,
go kart raced,
bowled,
played darts
and pool

What a ride!!

The 12 Dates of Christmas series was an interesting (and exhausting!) study in human interaction. 
I’ll take some great (and not so great) memories with me, as well as a few lessons about myself and the dating game.  Here are some of my observations:

1.  There are a LOT of boys out there.  But, there are still some men.  This gives me hope. 
Most of the guys I went out with were men of character… men that will be amazing partners.  How nice is it to know that they’re out there?

2.  Profiles can be deceiving – both for good and bad.
A couple of these guys, I may not have said yes to SOLELY based on their profiles, but because of the series, I agreed…and I’m glad I did – they were more handsome and charming in reality than their profiles let on.  I realize I’m a huge spelling/grammar nazi, so I often dismiss men who may just not be the best at representing themselves in writing, but are still very intelligent/talented/creative.

3.  I can broaden my physical parameters a bit.  I’ve had these ‘rules’ in my mind about age, height, race, hair…
I didn’t want to date anyone younger than 30 or older than 42, shorter than me in heels, a different race (read the post on that before assuming I’m a horrible person), or bald/balding.  And yet, I went out with ALL of those during this series, and had a fantastic time! 
The youngest and oldest dates were two of the most fun. 
I discovered a black man that kisses the way I like,
had a blast with men who were my height or shorter,
thoroughly enjoyed 3 men who were bald or balding
and basically all-around had to eat my own words.

I’ve gotten a lot of judgement for having too many first dates, very few second dates and being too picky. 
But, the more I’m in this game and learning about myself and the people I spend time with, the more confident I am that I CAN hold out for what I really want.  Not perfection… but perfect for me.

I’m going to keep being picky.
I’m going to keep eliminating quickly – being decisive and honest, so that no one gets unnecessarily hurt.
I’m going to continue expecting the best.  Because, not only am I worth finding an amazing man, but I have a big, passionate and authentic love to GIVE.

So, there you have it. 
The last year has run the gamut for me.  Almost exactly a year ago, I had my heart broken so badly – I didn’t think I’d survive. 
And, in some ways I’m NOT the same…that experience is still with me…it shaped me… but I’m good.  REALLY good.  And after the initial pain subsided, and I ventured back into the world of dating, I gained SO much!   What exactly did I gain from all this, you ask?

  • I’ve learned more about myself, my expectations and desires in a relationship.  The things I used to think were at the top of the list aren’t, and other things have become priorities.
  • I’ve grown more comfortable on dates, so that – as I walk into a bar/wine bar/restaurant/coffee shop, I’m not nervous or anxious… I just have an excitement and anticipation about what THIS date will bring.  I’m not worried that I’ll run out of things to say or that I’ll make a fool of myself… because I’ve learned now that I probably WILL and it’s ok!   I’m at ease in my own skin.
  • I’ve made some AMAZING friends.  A year ago, there was no Tyler, Brian G., Alan, Doug, Derek, Jenny, Denise, Jason, James or Brian K. in my life.  ALL of these people have been added into my circle of friends because of online dating/blogging, …and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

So, when we’re laughing (or wincing) at all the horrible messages, terrible texts and unthinkably awful profiles, remember that there is a huge GOOD side to this world.  I’m glad I’m in it.  Of course I hope that my search for love doesn’t last too much longer… but while it continues, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy the ride.

See you in 2013!  And see you on my website – launching TOMORROW!

www.sarahmariestone.com

-Sarah-


10 Mistakes Every Guy Should Avoid – pt. 1

As I cull through online profiles, I see SO many of the same mistakes…I may actually be slowly going insane.

So, if I’m forced to be subjected to the ignorance and stupidity of online men,
you all will have to listen to the occasional ranting…
Consider it a public service announcement.  I’m a giver, what can I say.

Here are a few tips if you men out there wanna make the ladies swoon…
Or, at the very least, not make them throw up a little in their mouth when they view your profile.

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1.  It’s “woman.”  With an “a.”  You’re looking for a womAn.  You are not looking for a women.
If you are, you may want to consider a religious change of venue.  Might I recommend Yearning for Zion?

Whenever I see this typo (and I’m being gracious that it’s a typo and not just sheer idiocy), it makes me ill-inclined to “lime to chat”… I’m just sayin’.

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2.  Apostrophes.  Use them.  I can’t stress this enough.  How many TIMES will the lazy men of this cyber world force this grammar-savvy girl to read the word “im?”  I’m here to spread the gospel news:  “Im” is not a word!  Say it with me…

If you can’t handle inserting the appropriate symbol, then just type in the ONE extra letter and say, “I am.”  And this guy HERE?  He’s studying English.  The sad irony is so thick, I may need to take the lid off to drink it all in…

 

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3.  Punctuation.

It is your friend.
Don’t be afraid to use it.
Otherwise, I will purposely read your profile thusly:  I’ll take one enormous breath and then read the entire thing without pause or intonation in a robotic monotone.
It kills at parties.

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4.  Scary photos.

I will never understand this phenomenon.  Why would you want to terrify your potential soul mate?

Most women I know don’t want to see your face painted to look like your flesh is coming off, covered in creepy duck tape or with an eery gas mask on the only un-tattooed part of your body.

I know, I know… we’re so high maintenance not wanting to go out with a guy who may be imagining how we’d taste with a little Tony Chachere, slow roasted on a rotisserie spit…

The funny part is, these are usually the guys who say they don’t want any drama.

Really?

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5.  Crass messages.

Dude.  I don’t know how to be MORE clear in my profile that I’m not just looking for a hook-up.
And, if you DO insist on going for it, at least put some nuance and cleverness into your approach.
A witty line has a lot more potential than something like this:

Listen, “I rich,” even if I WAS easy, …between the lame-sauce handle (you rich, huh?  you know how talk right too?), the photos of you covered in obvious prison tats, and your practically comical use of “no” instead of “know,”…you never stood a chance.  I hope dats kool.

More tips for later… if online profiles have taught me anything, it’s that the population out there has a very limited attention spa….. oh!  Look!  A butterfly!

You get the point.  See you tomorrow!


Breakin’ Up is Hard to Deux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are wrong.

People want answers.  They want explanations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nice Guys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some snippets from recent dates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


McSmarmy 2.0 and the Loser Pips

Let’s take a trip to the jerk store. Every town has at least one (Houston has 14)…and there you can find all manner of misogynists, scoundrels, miscreants and generically rude persons. They come in every size, color and breed. In the last month, I’ve had the distinct displeasure of dealing with 3 different brands – and I’m here to share my tale with you.

First…and back by popular demand…. (and also, because of a rogue text…) – Mr. McSmarmy!

For those of you just now joining our show…back in May of this year, I gave my number to a guy online who hit me up for what I can only assume was casual sex (he offered, never having met me, to bring a bottle of wine to my house at 11:30 at night on a Tuesday). When I refused, he said some pretty nasty things. All the details can be found here:

http://andallthatsass.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/that-guy-mr-mcsmarmy/

So… I MAY have accidentally sent a text that was intended for a friend, to this guy. And when I say “may,” I mean that, much to my own shock and dismay, I did, in fact, send it. They have the same first name, and I didn’t have either of their last names in my phone (not to fear, the situation has been remedied). But before I realized my mistake, McSmarmy was texting me – “who is this?” Still thinking it was my unsmarmy friend, I played along with what I thought was a string of joking texts. Argh…before long he was calling and I realized, to my horror, what I had done. I apologized profusely and got off the phone, but – as you may have guessed – it sparked an interest with him again and he began texting…. again.

The texting continued from there. I reminded him of how horrible he had been to me in our last round of texts, and he (much to my surprise) apologized, saying he had been in a terrible place then and wasn’t himself, and that he was truly sorry. He asked if he could make it up to me.

Now,… if I didn’t write a blog about these things, I would’ve kindly declined the offer, but… as you all know… I’m wont to bait these situations to see what will come of them. Additionally, he’s a chef at a new popular restaurant near me and I thought I might get a free meal for a girlfriend and myself out of it. So, I told him I might stop by that weekend and say hi. More texts followed where he tried to convince me to meet up with him for a drink, but I was busy with other things and couldn’t.

In LESS than two days, he was already SO frustrated with the fact that I hadn’t met up with him, that he wrote me the “dear John” text. Ha! What?? Two days? This guy is unbelievable.

I’d like to say that’s the last we’ll see of McSmarmy, but… I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll make at least one more appearance…

One can only hope, right? 😉

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The next flavor of jerkitude is the guy who wants to see ALL the goodies ahead of time before ever meeting a woman. It’s trés classy.

You’ll know you’ve found one of these gems when you start texting and he asks you for more photos. Now, if you only have one or two pictures on your profile, this is a perfectly fair request, but I have 15 photos up there – some close-up, some full-body shots, …so there should be no question of what I look like. So, it’s always a red flag to me when a guy asks for more. Still… not EVERY guy who presents a red flag is actually a dirtbag, so sometimes I’ll oblige.

I’d like to present to you exhibit A – a string of e-mails between me and one such particular jerk… just by way of example.

Here’s the backstory – we met online. He’s handsome, intelligent and funny. He’s an orthopedic surgeon in Houston’s med center and we share a lot of similar interests: guitar, wine, comedy, etc. So, you can see why I’d be so surprised to find he’s THIS shallow. Read on.

Before we begin – two caveats:
a. This is NC17 stuff, so if you’re reading this with younger audiences (not that I can picture a world in which a pre-teen would have ANY interest in my blog, but still…), you may want to censor first.
b. Yes – I baited this guy. I did it for you… you’re welcome.

First, let me give credit to my friend Tyler, who supplied me with the line of reasoning that if you’re looking for 100% outer beauty, you’re probably going to find just that…and only that. Good stuff.

But…yeah. And lest you think this is an anomalous situation, you’re sorely mistaken. This stuff happens all the time in the dating world. It’s a wonder any of the nice ones even make it to the point of falling in love, when we’ve had to wade through the waters of 100% loser to get there.

———————————————————

The final sort of sot we’ll study today – is the no-show. Yup – having a problem with commitment would be a monumental understatement with these guys. They’re the ones who talk a big game (“Oh my goodness, you’re adorable – I can’t WAIT to meet you!”) and then, when the time comes to put their bodies where their texts are… they’re MIA.

Yup – I’m referring to being stood up.
Left at the altar of first date blues…
Abandoned on the street corner of hope and disillusion…
(alright…enough of the sappy poetic restatements. Everyone knows what it means to be stood up.)

It happened to me for the first time a couple weeks ago. This guy initiated contact with me through an online site. We exchanged some e-mails and then went to texting. He was witty and sweet. He even canceled a meeting to be able to make it to the time/place we agreed on.

Then, I arrived… and he never showed. I texted once…didn’t hear back (until almost midnight that night…. our date was at 5:30).

Here’s what I don’t get. Why wouldn’t you just send a simple tiny text saying, “I’m not going to be able to make it after all.” Or even, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think we’d make a good match, so there’s no point in meeting.” What? Too harsh? Really? Worse than forcing me to take my fully-dolled-up self to a bar and sit there like an idiot searching all over for a guy who’s never coming? I realize I may be a bit too traditional, but when you say you’re going to meet someone, you’ve made a promise. You’ve obligated yourself, for better or for worse, to the intention of your words. So, to simply not show up is such a black mark on your character… it’s essentially telling the other person, “Not only can I not be relied on, but I don’t even care about people enough to respect their time and spare their feelings.”

I WILL say this, though. If you’re GOING to be stood up – the place to do it is the Tasting Room at CityCentre, Houston. Here’s how it went down:
My deliciously adorable bartender, Cody (who’s now practically my BFF…ok, he doesn’t know that, hey… … I’ll wear him down in time… but, I’m getting ahead of myself) – Cody chatted me up while I waited and talked about the unfortunate woes of online dating. He poured me some pity wine and then handed me over to the equally charming Angel (yes…that’s his name. No he’s not literally an angel. Though… he DID keep pouring me wine and calling me “Preciosa,” so… not really that far off I suppose) who took care of me for a while after that. Between these two graciously urbane (and did I mention handsome? and funny?) men tag-teaming, I had ample conversation partners – undoubtedly more interesting than my would-be date, and I made friends to keep! Also, because I followed my own rule about the date being ‘drinks only,’ I wasn’t forced to sit all alone at a table for 2 – I could perch myself at the bar with a lovely Chenin Blanc / Riesling blend and two of Houston’s sweetest guys keeping me company. Not a bad date after all.

When I finally did hear from McPromise-Breaker (hmmm…doesn’t flow like “McSmarmy”…I’ll work on it), he was apologetic, but not enough. I think the level of displayed remorse should be commensurate with the transgression and he seemed only mildly upset that he “wasn’t able to make it.” He said he “really did want to see me again,” and would I consider it? Once again, if I didn’t have hordes of followers around the world waiting with bated breath for every riveting post, I would have just said no. I’m not going to waste my time/anticipation/blind hope on someone who has proved unworthy of those things. But… for the sake of good literature (or… self-indulgent drivel… whichever you deem this), I said I would. Give him another chance, that is. He thanked me and said we’d talk about the details the next day.

This is like one of those questions on the SAT where you have to decipher the pattern and fill in the next number/shape/what-have-you. Can you figure out what happened next?

(in her best cheesy talk-show host voice) “That’s RIGHT! You’ve done it! You guessed correctly. She NEVER heard from him again. Step right this way to claim your fabulous prize!”

Yup. Nada. Nunca.
What GIVES? If he knew he wasn’t going to try to make it work that second time, why even bother contacting me at ALL about the first-date faux pas? Maybe this guy gets off knowing he builds up hope only to disappoint…? Is that a THING? I’ll need to check my DSM-IV to be sure…

In any event… you now have a sampling of Houston jerkocity.
Perhaps instead of continuing to hope that “the one” is still out there, I should just take up a life of daytime drinking, putting a seed of bitterness in my children and obscene reclusivity? I’ve got quite a collection of pajamas that need wearing and I’m WAY behind on my Sudoku puzzles. Does anyone know of a good deal on cats?


Operation Date – Fail.

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

Let me set the scene.

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

And y’all know – that’s my jam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think we’re adorable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I heard nothing back.

Ever.

EVER!!

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

WTH??

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

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

Sigh…

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

Happy writing.


Tips & Trends

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

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

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


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

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

Photo submitted by my friend, Nancy

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

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

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

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

Here’s another in this vein:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Superimposing interesting text over your photos.  Check it:

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

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

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

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