Online Dating World

One Ring to Find Them…

What is UP with all the cheaters out there?  Look – it’s hard ENOUGH for a single girl to find a single guy who actually meets all of her standards (albeit – some of us have a LOT of standards…), but it just complicates things SO much more that a large number of men (and women) out there are presenting themselves as available when they’re, in fact, married.  Geez!  It’s exhausting enough searching for the perfect match without you interlopers getting in my way.

My best friend and I were out a few weekends ago – and at nice places, too – not some seedy bar – and encountered two such individuals.  The first was a married woman with children, in her late 30’s who chatted us up at the Tasting Room CityCentre.  She was well-dressed, sitting alone, ostensibly meeting a girlfriend… and then we watched her full-on come on to a handsome man at the bar between us.  I mean… come on, Chatty VonMarriedson…. I call foul!  You already have a guy – and now you’re encroaching on someone who could potentially be ours?  That’s just greedy.

Later on that night at Max’s Wine Dive, we were talking with a good-looking businessman who waited til after 20 minutes of flirty-talk/conversation to admit to being married.  What??  Dude, you just wasted valuable time I could’ve been using my patented (ok, fine – patent pending) flirting technique (smiling, making eye contact and being optimistic…what?) on someone else!

The biggest problem here (aside from the egregious disdain for vows and commitment) is that these people are double-dipping in the pool where I’m just trying to get IN!  It’s no fair.  There’s already a limited free-swim time, what with all the lifeguard breaks and such…a girl’s gotta be a friggin’ aqua-ninja to get a splash in.  Harrumph.  (you can’t see me, but you can be sure I’m crossing my arms petulantly and furrowing my brow in full-on annoyed little-kid fashion).

If finding love is like a scavenger hunt, then the wedding ring is the best (read: ONLY) clue.  If you don’t wear your ring, you throw off the whole delicate ecosystem of the manhunt.  And who wants to throw off a delicate system?  Haven’t you seen the Lion King?  The hyenas cannot run a decent pride with ANY kind of real leadership…it’s all laughing and being ugly and no one wins.

When I was at the airport in June, I counted – in the span of 15 minutes – SIX men who were married (mostly with children) who didn’t have their wedding rings on.  How did I discover this?  Well – as any good singularly-focused woman on the manhunt would do – as I approached the gate seating area, I surveyed the room carefully, like a seasoned sniper, and chose the most ruggedly handsome man not wearing a wedding band, to sit next to.  Sure enough – after making what I can only label as supremely charming conversation for a few minutes, his wife and kid came and sat down on the other side of him, heaving with Disney paraphernalia and dibs.  Ugh.  I suppose I should be happy for this family.  They have each other…precious…. gag.  I’m not anti-family at ALL – heck, I look forward to the day when I am part of one, once again.  Blended and all that.
But, when you muck with the system, get my hopes up, and then shove your bony wife and hopped-up-on Mickey-shaped-sugary-snacks kid in my face, I’m less than enthused at your familial bliss.

It’s false advertising is what it is.  When you don’t wear the sign of your commitment and love to another person, you’re essentially putting yourself in the shoe store window of love, and marking yourself “available.”  Cruel move, if you ask me.  Because when I inevitably come along and see you, and decide you may actually be worth trying on and possibly even buying, I find out that …no… ha ha ha – joke’s on me.  That shoe isn’t really up for grabs.  It was just there to tease me.

People -here is a simple set of rules to follow:
If you’re married and you’re happy – wear your ring.  (You can sing this to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it,” if that makes it easier to remember.  Mnemonics and all that).

If you’re married and you’re happy – wear your ring.
If you’re married and you’re unhappy – wear your ring.  And go to counseling.
If you’re married, but you’re ‘keeping your options open,’ you’re a loser.  Wear your ring and pray for mercy on your depraved soul.

Heck, there really should even be a ring for people who are seriously dating.  There would be different colors, to signify the varying levels of commitment.  You know, when you get to the point of not dating anyone else you get your beginner ring (Red.  You might as well go in rainbow order, right?); then when you take it to Facebook official you move up to orange.  Introducing her to the family?  That’s straight to green. The L word brings you to the blue/violet end of the spectrum and then…then…when you can finally toot in front of each other, it goes to silver or gold and you pop a diamond on that sucker.  Simple system.  I don’t know why we haven’t done this already.  What are we, primitives?

I don’t have a lot of tools in my arsenal to attract single guys.  I’m relying on my naked ring finger and my sparkling wit to send the message that I’m “on the market.”  Do me a favor and don’t flood said market with false opportunities or competition.  It’s just not right.

Let’s Get This Party Started…QUICKly!

Yes… Yes I did pull out 90’s rap lyrics for my two-part title.  That’s how I roll.  Apparently.

Ok – so – we’re going on dates now. (See part I of this post).

But, where to go?  What to do?  What to talk about?  
How to come across the best version of myself that I can?

Whoa, horsie – calm down!  I’m not a MIRACLE-worker, for cryin’ out loud!!

But I may have a few tips/tricks up my sleeve.  I can’t believe I’m sharing these for free…

Also – if you’re “shopping in my aisle,” I forbid you from using any of these suggestions.  
You know what I mean, right ladies?  When you’re at the clothing store and you see another woman encroaching dangerously close to the dresses you MAY be interested in – what do you do?  You give her a quick once-over to determine if she’s your size.  If she’s not, she’s not a threat and you can carry on as you were, at a relaxed clip.  
But if she’s a similar shape, then you’ve gotta broaden your stance, assert your alpha female-ness and box her out of your shopping zone.  Same goes for dating, doesn’t it?  I can bring certain friends with me when I go out, because we’re shopping for different kinds of shoes…I mean, men.  But, if I find a curvy, sassy brunette looking for a charismatic, funny, Jesus-lovin’ guy – we will NOT be wing-manning together.  Too dangerous.  So – like I said – if you’re shopping in the Sarah aisle…move along to another post.  These gems are soley intended for my NON-competition.

Where to go.

I can speak to this globally and I can even throw out some ideas for those of you in the Houston area. [see list at the bottom of the post]

Generally speaking, (and remember that I think the first meeting should be easy and quick), unless you’re meeting for lunch, I think you should avoid national chains.  Now, obviously, meeting for lunch at Panera or the Corner Bakery is fine.  But if you’re doing Happy Hour or drinks/apps – don’t hit up Chili’s.  (Unless, of course, you live in some podunk rural area where Chili’s is as impressive as it gets…if that’s the case, get the Southwest eggrolls, and surrender to the mediocrity.)  Choose a spot that has a good “vibe” – a healthy enough energy that you can’t hear the guys in the back washing dishes, but not so loud that you have to scream into each other’s ears to be heard.  Wine bars are great for this.  Restaurants that do Happy Hours are also optimal (and a note for the non-drinkers.  Why don’t you drink?  No, I’m kidding.  My last boyfriend was practically a tee-totaller.  I mean, it IS why I finally broke up with him – to be clear, but… he’s a great guy nonetheless.  If you don’t drink alcohol, Happy Hour spots are still a great idea – they usually have deals on appetizers and the Happy Hour ‘feel’ makes it not as high pressure as dinner.)

What to Wear.

I wear the same outfit on almost every first date.  I’ll just tell you – it’s a black knit short dress – strapless, but with a halter tie with wooden beads.  I wear it with black espadrilles – not super high, but a solid 3 inches of “help.”  It’s everything you want in a first-date outfit.  It’s sassy without looking like I’m trying too hard.  It’s an LBD, but because it’s knit, it’s casual enough for Happy Hours, It shows some skin, but not too much.   It’s a solid 8-outta-10.  It’s perfect.   AND – knowing it’s my go-to first date outfit makes it so easy – I don’t have to toil over what to wear.

A note to men – women toil.  We worry and obsess and toss-and-turn over what to wear.  We want to look attractive, but we don’t want to give off the desperate vibe that we’re trying too hard.  We will often consider, if not actually do it – buying a new dress/outfit for a date.  And we have to consider the activity too – if we’re playing pool or going bowling, we can’t wear a maxi dress.  If we may end up dancing, we have to have the appropriate footwear, if we think there will be any kind of snuggling/hugging/smooching, we can’t be all spanxed-out… it’s a lot to think about!  So – if you think a woman looks nice – tell her.  And we’ll tell you too.  🙂

Honestly – as long as you THINK about what you’re going to wear and you have a morsel of an “I care” attitude, you’re probably fine.  Probably best to stay away from your work coveralls, though… (yes – I actually went on a date with a guy who showed up in coveralls.  COVERALLS, people.  With the name of the company embroidered on the ‘shirt’ pocket and everything.)

What to order.

I usually commit to one drink and one snack.  It doesn’t cost a lot and it gives me something to DO.  Plus, sometimes this sparks interesting conversation about wines/beers/teas/food.  Now, the biggest problem of date-eating is this…there is almost NOTHING you can actually eat.  Not if you want to come across as sexy.  Let me unpack this.  
You can’t eat a salad because taking bites is cumbersome…pieces fall out, they don’t fit in your mouth in nice neat bites, so you’re rolling along in conversation, and there’s a spinach stem dangling out of your lips or a rogue heart of palm stuck on your cheek…it’s just not pretty.  
Then, you can’t eat anything with cooked spinach, broccoli or ANY herbs – because they’ll be caught in your teeth and without knowing it, you’ll smile at Mr. Wonderful only to look like you’re missing a tooth.  And unless you’re dating in Montgomery county, that’s frowned upon.  
You can’t order anything with onions or garlic.  Even if you know there won’t be a kiss, you don’t want to be breathing dragon-burp breath on him while you’re trying to make a good impression.
And lastly, you can’t drink red wine because it’ll turn your teeth an ashy-violet color that doesn’t exactly spell out “come hither.”

So, what’s left?  Not much!  Cheeses are safe (and delicious).

Then, there’s…well… just get the cheese.

What to talk about.

I would like to, once again, offer up some more of my printable communication materials for my readers here. 
Below is a handy list of suggested talking points you can bring with you and hand to your date.  Again – make this your own.   Feel free to print several of these – even laminate them.  Pick things that are so ridiculous that he or she can’t HELP but laugh and then you’ve got things started on a funny note.

talking_points (pdf for easy printing)

[aside…if you are offended by me including Joel in the camp of ridiculous topics, feel free to message me and we’ll go toe-to-toe in a fascinating theological sparring… trust me – it’ll increase your chances at living your best life now.]

Ok, but seriously – here are my three biggest suggestions on this front:

Ask questions, meta-communicate, and don’t set up taboo topics.

First – ask questions.  Not in that ‘I’m gonna pepper you with so much interrogation that you feel like you’re in a war-time P.O.W. situation,’ no – just in a ‘I’m interested in you’ way.  Now, the true test of a good date is if s/he reciprocates and asks YOU questions about yourself.  If they do, just answer them honestly!

Next – meta-communicate.  This is a fancy way of saying, talk ABOUT the talking.  Or talk above the talking.  I’m using the term loosely because literally it means to talk about the nuances of language, so I’m referring more to Meta-commentary, but let’s not get too academic here.  This method has worked really well for me in dating because it takes the conversation to a much more authentic place where both people can rest easy in the shared nervousness or unknown.  Both of you are trying to impress the other one while still being true to yourself.  You’re both excited and nervous.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to admit to the other person that you checked out your panty-line in the car window before walking in or tested your own breath while in the bathroom.  But, you CAN talk about the fact that first dates are tricky.  Talk about the fact that there’s almost nothing a woman can order to eat and still maintain some degree of poise.  Talk about the fact that online dating brings with it so much room for disingenuous information.  Talk about your own funny or horrific dating stories.

Lastly, if you’re being honest and appropriate for the level of connection happening, you can talk about just about anything.  I don’t think certain ‘hush hush’ topics necessarily need to be off-limits.  I think it’s OK to talk about your ex.  Now, obviously – be smart about this.  You’re not gonna blubber into your napkin and whine about how he never really appreciated what he had… But you CAN tell some of the basics of the story or share how difficult it was to get back out there.  Chances are your date has been in the same boat in some season and this is a point of connection.  We’re all human, right?

And for those of us who are divorced – I dare say this is a GOOD thing to talk about.  I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s really important to know WHY the other person is divorced.  Did he fight for his marriage?  What are her views on divorce?  How long ago was it and what was the healing process like?  How are the children doing?  These are all hugely significant to me to learn.

Another side note – a reader asked me to discuss how long to wait after a divorce before getting back out there.  And, my answer comes much more from my own personal reflection on this and less based on a therapeutic standpoint.  I think this all depends on the nature of the end of the marriage and your own personal grieving time.  Some people’s marriages ended with an abrupt quick death – e.g.  the husband came home one day to announce that he’s been having a long-term affair, he no longer loves his wife, and he’s leaving her.  3 months later they’re divorced.  That woman is nowhere NEAR ready to look for love again – the amount of healing and processing she’ll need is immense. On the other end of the spectrum is the marriage that had been in the relational ICU for so long that it finally died a long slow death.  Whatever besetting sins/addictions/issues plauged them had been happening for years, there had been extensive attempts to save the marriage, including therapy, leaning on the community of faith, etc., and then the divorce itself sat in legal red-tape for years.  In this case, so much of the necessary mourning had occurred as the couple struggled, that the time of healing may be less.  I hate saying it because it sounds so wimpy, but it really is different for every person.  Here’s what I DO suggest: 
1.  Surround yourself with wise counsel, and
2.  Don’t open your heart up to anyone new until the ghost of your former failed relationship no longer casts doubt on your true identity and will not haunt the halls of your potential new love story.

Alright – back to the land of first dates…

How to END the date

First – don’t say you’re going to have another if you’re not.  Be very careful with your words here.  You do NOT have to bring the death blow to this burgeoning friendship while still on the date, but you also shouldn’t inflame false hope.  If you know (and – of COURSE you know – if you’re being honest with yourself, you knew within the first 10 minutes) that you don’t want to see this person again, just say something like, “This was really fun, thank you.”  You can even say, “Talk to you later!” because you WILL have to talk (or text) to let him/her know that you don’t think you’d make a good match.
Note:  The more you date, the easier this will become.  People appreciate honesty.  No one wants a second date born out of pity.  So – if there’s not spark, say so and move on. 

Kiss or no kiss?  There is no rule here, folks!  Now…as many of you have deduced, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to sex, so I can unequivically say that you should NEVER have sex on the first date.  That’s not just me being all Christian-prude-y… that’s just good economics.  Only 6% of first dates that end in sex actually blossom into long-term relationships.  You know what happens to the other 94%?  SOMEone (usually the woman, but not always) gets hurt.  Like – really hurt.  Like – I gave my whole vulnerable self to someone and s/he thinks of me as disposable.  Crappy feeling.  MUCH worse than walking away sexually frustrated!  Embrace the cold shower and be valued.
But, the smooch?  Well – I say, if you’re feeling it – go for it.  Why not?  Kissing is fun and it’s also more information.  If you walk away from a first date that’s obviously gone well, wouldn’t it also be nice to know if s/he is a good kisser?  I’m just sayin’…

So – there you have it.  My thoughts on first dates.  Go on a lot.  Make ’em quick.  Be yourself – be honest.  Smooch but don’t give away all the goodies.  Rinse, repeat.

Some Houston suggestions for first date spots:  
All the restaurants in CityCentre:  The Tasting Room, Yard House (take a beer lover here!), Cyclone Anaya’s, Ruggles Green (great for non-drinkers), Flora & Muse (more of a coffeehouse feel), etc.;
Benjy’s (either in Rice Village or on Washington – one of my most FAVORITE places to go -( lots of good energy, delicious mojitos, $5 wines and $6 apps);
Cafe Brasil in Montrose;
The Boom Boom Room in the Heights (very charming and quiet), Boheme (a great hipster/chill feel);
the Arbys in Pasadena…just checking to see if you’re paying attention – ha ha!  
No, but seriously, that is a NICE Arbys;
the bar at Vic & Anthony’s downtown (dark lighting, comfy chairs…ahem…);
Absolve Wine Lounge – small, chill – good apps and wine;
Branch Water Tavern in Rice Military;
Max’s Wine Dive on Washington;
any of the cafes in Rice Village (Black Walnut, Mi Luna, etc.);
DownHouse in the Heights;
The Tasting Room in Uptown Park (more single professionals vibe) or on Alabama (more coffeehouse feel);
Vintropolis on the west side,
Winetopia near Memorial/Galleria;
Cedar Creek cafe in the Heights,
El Gran Malo (relaxed patio and yummy tacos) in the ‘dirty Heights’;
Fleming’s steakhouse (Happy Hour only);
the restaurants at West Ave in Upper Kirby: Cru, Ava, Pondicheri;
Anvil (fancy mixed drinks);
Sambuca (bar) downtown;
The Grove at Discovery Green;
OPorto Cafe near Greenway Plaza – fantastic apps and wine in a casual atmophere (basically a less-noisy Max’s);

I could go on and on, but now you’ve got some ideas.  And please leave comments with suggestions for other places…after all – I’m out there too!

Let’s Get This Party Started….Riiight!?

A couple of friends have asked me my advice on getting started (or…in their cases, restarted) in the online dating world.  So, I’ve decided (as part of my cyber charity work) to write a 2-part post on getting back in the game.  Apparently I’m a love doctor now?  I’m more than ok with that.  The Doctor is in.  The first post will be about creating a profile and communicating with potential matches, etc. and the next one will be tips and suggestions for actual dates (including, but not limited to: talking points, how to eat “sexy,” etc.)… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – first we have to GET the date(s).

(Cracks knuckles, clears throat, does some basic lunges…)

Ok – if you’re wanting to ease back into the scene, I suggest taking an evening to create the perfect profile.  Obviously I don’t think mine is perfect, but I DO think it represents me, and thusly – it constitutes “perfect.”  So, crack a bottle of wine, put on your comfiest PJs and enjoy painting a picture of who you are and what you want.  This is the fantasy portion of the process. Isn’t it fun?  We’ll get to the debilitatingly disappointing portion later…after all – I want to give you something to look FORWARD to.

First – which site to choose?  If you’re wanting to dip your toe in the online waters of love, I’d suggest a site that lets you do a fair amount of “shopping” – like Match.com.  I know I talk a big talk about Match being full of men trolling for sex (and I stand by that), but it also has a lot of men (and women) to choose from – and seems to have the highest percentage of “normal” on there (which…to be fair, is still a pretty small margin…but still.)

[Update – Coming back to this post months later and I would NOW suggest…if you’re just dipping your toe in the uncertain waters of online dating – to do OK Cupid.  It’s free, easy to use, and has a decent smattering of singles.  Trust me – go try it.  And answer lots of their questions too – it helps them match you up!]

A note about eHarmony.  Some of you who know that you can only be with someone who shares your faith may be thinking – “why use a ‘secular’ site and not eHarmony, where I’m ‘guaranteed’ to find a Christian?”  eHarmony may be great for you LATER, but it doesn’t allow you to hunt/shop with the same ease and anonymity that Match does.  eHarmony does the work for you and at their own pacing…so you’re kinda held hostage to their methods, whereas Match allows you to navigate your own search in your own timing and style.  Just my thoughts…

First things first – do NOT start by putting a photo up and then writing your profile.  They’ll approve your photo and then, within moments, the smarmiest of men will start descending on you like a pack of rabid hyenas, based on nothing but physical attraction.  Those are not the animals…er…”men” you want.  Begin with the words and add the pictures last.

Some tips for writing your profile (and to be fair, many of these suggestions have come from comments made by some of my guy friends including John and Kevin…you know who you are):

– Don’t SAY that you’re smart or funny – just BE smart and funny.  Anyone can say that they’re witty or clever, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  And, as a woman, when I see something clever on a guy’s profile, it grabs my attention so much more than someone claiming a rapier wit, but never demonstrating it.

This begins with your tagline.  This is what will show up when people see your profile in a list – so don’t put something generic like “single mom looking for a nice guy”… snore…no, seriously – I just took a nap.
Put a funny line from a movie that you’ve tweaked, or a random fact about yourself, or even just plain ‘ol goofiness.

– Don’t put a list of things you DON’T want in a potential partner.  It’s fine that you HAVE this list – of course – we all do!  But, it’s off-putting – moreso to men than women, I’ve found.  They are particularly sensitive to negative energy and I think their ears perk up to the motherly tone found in that “If you…… then we won’t work out” kind of language.  So, be positive about who you are and what you want.

– There’s no need to list the same junk EVERY person has on there – all that does, is basically say, “move along to the next profile, because I’m boring.”  You don’t need to write on there that you are looking for friendship that turns into a relationship – anyone worth their salt is looking for that.  You don’t need to write that you’re looking for someone friendly, nice, honest, etc. – everyone is!  You don’t need to spell out the fact that physical chemistry is important…der…  No, instead, spend MORE time writing about what sets you apart.  Talk about your life – are you an extravert?  What are your hobbies and interests?  Are you a word nerd?  Into politics?  Artistic?  Musical?  What are some interesting random facts about you that, while not important in the grand scheme of things, are endearing to read?

– If you’re a parent, don’t put a line in there about how your kid is the most important thing in your life and that no one will ever take priority over him/her/them.  This may very well be true (and I’m really resisting opening up a hearty debate about the roles and priorities partners/children eventually play in a monogamous and committed relationship…resisting…but it’s hard!) – but when you say it this way, not only does it read negatively, but it gives off the vibe that your heart is closed-off for anyone else.  What guy/girl wants to initiate conversation if s/he thinks they’ll only ever make it to second place in your heart/life?  All of us parents know that we’re not going to neglect our children for our dating life – we wouldn’t be good parents then.  So – you don’t need to specifically state this.

– In the more directly pointed questions about musical interests, movies, books, faith, etc. – DO put as much information as you can here – partly because it’s your chance to show your personality, but also because any little thing you write could be the “hook” a guy uses to spark up a conversation with you.  Think about it – if you write something generic, like “I love music,” there’s not much there for someone to follow-up with, but if you mention that you have an unhealthy obsession with Jimi Hendrix, then a guy can write to you and say, “you love Hendrix, eh?  What’s your favorite album?”  and you’re off to the races.

– Don’t lie.  You might think this is obvious, but when you start writing…you may be tempted to “embellish” the truth (ahem…lie.)  Resist.  This will invariably come back to bite you in the more-ample-than-you-represented-hiney later on.  Don’t say that you’re taller than you really are (*coughs* – MEN…); don’t say that you’re skinnier than you are; don’t say that you love (fill-in-the-blank – animals, sports, etc.) if you don’t; don’t say you’re younger than you are; don’t purposely leave out the fact that you are a parent; don’t say you’re “never married” if you’re actually divorced – that MATTERS; don’t fudge your income or embellish your job description; and any other arena where you’re tempted to tweak the reality of things… resist.  The purpose of this is to find someone who will know you and love you for who you are, so – how about this novel idea – BE who you are from the get-go!

– Ok – let’s talk profile pictures.

DO have at least one close-up shot of your face where you can actually see what you look like.  No sunglasses, no face in the shadow… just YOU.

DO have at least one full-body shot that is recent and accurate.  A guy would much rather see a curvy woman who owns it, than see a photo of you from your “Spring-Fling” in 1992…all pre-baby and Spanxed-out.

DON’T crop your girlfriends out of photos.  Men like to see that you have a vibrant social life and pretty friends!

DON’T have a photo of you with a guy who could be misconstrued as competition (boyfriend, unlabeled brother, etc.).  Conversely, don’t have a picture of you with someone prettier than you!  Come on…this is just good common sense.

DON’T have more than one photo of you with your kid(s).  Your profile will say if/that you have children, but you don’t want to display this too much as it is a little intimidating right outta the shoot.  If the guy falls in love with you, he’ll fall in love with your children.  But we don’t need to throw that in his face from the beginning.

DO have multiple shots of you so he can see different facial expressions and settings.

DON’T have shots of you with your iPhone/Android in the picture.  Extra points deducted for duck face.

DO have a pic of you being goofy.  People like to find other people with a sense of humor and playfulness.

DON’T have a photo where the whole point is to show off your fabulous cleavage, or – for men – the shirtless pic.  If you have a great photo from the beach or lake, that’s fine, but don’t adjust your clothing “just right” to show off your ‘assets’ and then snap photos of you with your ‘Blue Steel’ face and upload them.

– Proofread

Once you’ve completed everything – go back and reread it.  If you’re going to be picky (which I think you should), then you can’t very well have a profile riddled with grammatical errors.  Check those yours and you’res, make sure every I’m has an apostrophe, for you men – make sure it doesn’t say, “I’m looking for a women who…”  – that kind of thing.  Spell check, have a friend read it – whatever it takes to make it correct.  This will allow for the greatest level of superiority and entitlement when shopping later.  🙂

– Commit to the membership/subscription.  Don’t do the whole free deal-y-o… where you can only see certain parts and can only “wink” or “flirt” or whatever your site’s version of lame-sauce is.  Be all in.  And only communicate with others who are all-in.  After all – if they’re not willing to shell out the $30 to find a soulmate…that’s a whole other kind of information.

– Communication.

OK – so your profile is up and running and all sorts-a-fabulous.  Now, you have two things to do:

1.  Read the messages that come in and respond to those worthy of a response.  Now, listen – every person is different about who they will and won’t reply to.  For me – if the photo looks like I could be remotely attracted to the person, and the profile is decently written and has even in a modicum of interest to it, and if the guy lists his faith as “Christian/Protestant,” or “Christian/Other,” I’ll reply.  I figure everything else is subject to further investigation/interpretation.  Now, I’m much more likely to give a longer more thoughtful and witty response to someone who’s profile is especially intriguing or unique, but I don’t require 10-outta-10 charming to send a Match.com e-mail.

On the other side of things – you have ZERO obligation to reply to all the messages that come in.  For those guys who don’t interest you, you have three options:
1 – write them back and just say honestly that you don’t think you’d make a good match, but best of luck;
2 – use the Match.com “no thanks” link, which sends this cute little note,
“TexasGuy1976 doesn’t know a good thing when he sees it….. etc. etc…. rejection with a condescending throw-away message about finding love in other places…blah blah blah”
…I mean… I’ve HEARD that’s how they go…(shifts nervously)…I’ve certainly never GOTTEN one of these messages…
(read: I’ve gotten plenty of them.);
3 – Do nothing.  It is OK to ignore messages.  Men will ignore you too.  Them’s just the shakes.

2.  Go hunting!  This is the fun part.  Go to the Search option and put in all your parameters.  Be as picky and snobby and racist and age-ist as you want to in this part of the game…your ‘I-only-want-to-date-men-who-speak-Tagalog’ secret is safe with Match.  Use the “Advanced Search” option so you can put in items under education, faith, etc. and then start reading!

Check it out, ladies – you will have an advantage if you’re assertive and send messages to the guys who pique your interest.  Because, if you read my last post you’ll remember, men message women MUCH more than the other way around.  Men don’t get that much attention in this way, so if you put yourself on his radar, you’re already miles ahead in the race against the other ladies out there.  And don’t just click the “wink” button – have the bollocks to send an actual message.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Just find something in his profile that caught your eye and say so.  It could be something like this:

You had me at Texas Country.  I could listen to Chris Knight the rest of my life and be a happy girl.  🙂
Your profile was refreshing to read – you seem like an authentic and intelligent guy.  I’d love to chat more…check out my profile and let me know what you think!  Cheers.  – Sarah- “

Note:  you may want to change the name.

That’s not hard, is it?  Obviously – make this your own.  Be more flirty, be more succinct, include an open-ended question, whatever matches your personality.  And hopefully – watch the responses roll in!?

– Take it to the next level.

Rewrr…. that sounded saucy…

No, I just mean – once you have a dialogue going on Match.com’s e-mail system, I think (and this is purely my opinion, but it IS based on interactions with lots of men in this world) it’s best to quickly take it to the phone – either text or talking, pick your poison.  I’m a texter, but that’s just me.  And I’m also quick to propose meeting up.

I want to take a moment to talk about my philosophy about dating – and how it affects the MANNER in which I date – and why I move quickly to the meet-n-greet.

Let’s return to the shoe shopping metaphor.  I am in a season of searching for the perfect shoe.  I’m trying on lots of pairs, but I’m eliminating quickly the ones that I know aren’t the right fit.  That’s the key – eliminating quickly.  I’d much rather go on lots of quick dates (coffee/drinks/lunch/etc.) and assess if there’s sufficient interest/potential connection to warrant a full-on date-date.  Think back to the shoes (sorry, men… feel free to insert your own tool metaphor in lieu of footwear.  Unless you’re all in-touch-with-your-metro-chic-ness and can hang with this).
There are the ones that are SO pretty… but they’re way too expensive (for those of you who can’t crack the code – I mean to say that the guy is dreamy and makes you feel good, but it comes at an unfortunate cost…(critical, short-temper, etc.).  There are those that seem like they’ll go PERFECTLY with your outfit, but they’re prohibitively uncomfortable (we’ve all bought these shoes, haven’t we?  And halfway through the next day we’re cursing our earlier impulsive selves that strapped our feet into tiny torture chambers of pain.  Do I need to spell out the metaphorical corollary?)  Then there are the shoes that are sensible.  They feel good – you know they’ll last.  They’ll walk you faithfully through Disney or your trip to the Burgundian countryside… but darn it they just have no razzle dazzle.  I’d like to say – unequivically – that I am DONE buying those shoes as well.

No, I want THE PERFECT pair.  Gorgeous, versatile, comfortable and make other women insanely jealous.  Ok, ok… perhaps I’ve pushed the metaphor a bit past its prime…

And I haven’t yet grown so cynical about love that I think this is an impossible dream.  I DO know there isn’t a perfect pair of shoes out there – I have a healthy grasp on the flawed (dare I say it, ..sinful) state of man, but I DO believe there’s a perfect pair out there FOR ME.  And that means two things as far as the shopping and ‘trying on’ phase:

1.  I’m going to try on lots of pairs (don’t go gettin’ all naughty on me here… I just mean interacting with a fair number of men).  And I’m probably going to have a lot of first-dates-only because I know pretty quickly when the pair isn’t a good fit.

2.  When I find a pair I like – I’m going to use all the tools in my arsenal to wear them, enjoy them and decide if they’re worth buying.

I guess what I’m saying is – take the online interactions quickly into the land of the living – where people have no choice but to be their real selves.  Don’t WASTE your TIME sending e-mails back and forth or texting for weeks – the most accurate representation of a person – is the person.  In person.

So – don’t be afraid to just say – “Let’s meet up for a drink!”  or “I’d really love to meet you – wanna grab coffee later this week?”  It’s innocuous enough.  Contrary to what that nagging fear in the insecure part of your brain says, “Let’s do drinks” does not, in fact,  mean, “I want to have your baby.”  So – go for it.  Enjoy the drinks/lunch/coffee and take it from there.

…to be continued.

I’ll Send an SOS to the World

I’ve heard it said that women have it ‘easier’ in the world of online dating – because all they have to do is post a remotely pretty photo and men will come flocking.

Studies show (and yes, I actually have documentation to back this up – I’m not “that girl” who just throws out the “studies show” or “they say” or “experts agree” unless I have sufficient back-up) that women get flirted with or messaged at an extremely higher rate than the other way around.  Men send the messages while women just sit back and let the love roll in.

Well……… sorta.

I agree that men have to do more “work” than women on the FRONT end.  But I’m here to tell you what things look like on the other side.  Yes, men have to be virtually gods to get some online attention.  I have a guy friend who’s handsome, insanely witty, and whose profile is that perfect mix of clever/unique and also shows that he can be a warm, romantic partner..and he almost never gets messages or “winks”…it’s crazy.  And then I sit down to my computer and have at LEAST 50 messages a day on any given site I’m on.  Here are the numbers for today…just to give you a picture:

Sounds great (for me), right?  Well…let’s not get cray cray…allow me to dig a little deeper.

You know when your fill-in-the-blank-female-family-member makes you a “beautiful” needle-point work of art – if you look at the backside, it’s all KINDS of a mess?  That’s what it’s like to be a woman trudging through online dating sites.  It might seem so easy – just put up a photo and wait for the masses to come knocking on your proverbial door, but oh-ho-ho…. let’s take a look at who it is who’s coming a-knocking.

There are a few archetypes of messages I receive from men.  For easy math, let’s assume I receive 100 messages a day.  It’s possible, but not a sure bet that ONE of those will be remotely interesting/complimentary/clever enough to spark my interest.  The other 99 are one of the following:

1.  Flat out boring.  These are the ones that make you want to reclaim that 1/2 second you lost by clicking on the message to begin with.  They say things like:

“Hey girl.”
“Hi cutie.”
“What’s up”

And that’s being kind – because I’ve spelled everything correctly and used punctuation appropriately…

And now I’m asleep.

2.  Full of cheesy come-on lines.
What’s that you say?  You want some examples?  Well, you’ve come to the right place.

If I were to be present in heaven… as in…dead?
And – “common many angels?”… I mean… comMON man!


It appears I’m popular among the angelic crowd.

3.  Don’t take the hint, resulting in flooding your inbox with multiple unwanted communications.

Dude…if I didn’t write you back 11 days ago, or 9 days ago, or anything between then and now…it’s time to walk away.

(and if you’re reading this thinking that it’s cruel to not write back to all of these guys, let he who hath not 100’s of inane messages cast the first critical online dating stone.)

4.  Stupid.  Stupidity comes in various forms.  It ranges from the grammatical/spelling mistakes to the idiotic or non-sequitur thoughts that end up making me roll my eyes (at the very least), insulting me (see below), or cause me to shake my head in despair at humanity’s descent into moronitude (go with it).

I don’t even know what he MEANT to say.  But – doesn’t matter.  He had me at “ho.”


For the last time – I am only ONE woman.  Do you know how emotionally taxing it is to take on the responsibilities of beautyful women everywhere?


Luckily between the last blog post and now, I found an app for my iPhone that translates stupid.  So – what I THINK he means is:

“The basics in your profile nominally interest me enough to write this lazy and flawed message to ‘say hi’.”



You would imagine I have a personality?  Yes.  I have one.  I should totes shoot you me number.


Proofread, honey.  I’m a woman, last I checked.


So – while men may have to do a little more leg-work on the front end of the game, we women (well – the beautiful, charismatic and ridiculously witty ones like myself) have to sift through a LOT of trash in search of eventual treasure.

The sheer herculean task of dumpster diving through the well of vapidity should earn me SOMEthing…right?

Culling through these messages (and yes – I read every one.  After all – once in a while you’ll find a gem.  Right?  (Say right.)  And if I were to miss that ONE amazing guy because of the 99 other cholos blowin’ up my inbox – what a travesty THAT would be!) is practically like having another part-time job.  Not only does it take up time, but it exhausts my mental faculties.  I should really get paid for this.  I’m providing a service, if you think about it.  When guys don’t get messages back, I’m CERTAIN they take a good long look at their approach and reflect on why it didn’t work and learn from it – I’m basically an online dating philanthropist.  I mean, I don’t want to be painted with a “hero” brush, but…
I’m KINDA a hero.

But I’m also a relational baller on a budget, so – anyone who wants to pony up and help a sista out… I’ll be opening a PayPal account for these and other sassy services I provide.  There will be varying levels of sponsorship – you can subsidize my online dating sites’ subscription fees – think of it as a comedic investment.  You’d be like my platinum-level gigolo.  You throw down the cizzash, and I’ll bring in the laughs.  And why stop there?  Now that this is a full-on Business, not only memberships/subscriptions, but date costs become company write-offs.  This could really work out for me.  If my date pays, and I keep the receipts for a tax deduction, I’ll actually come out ahead.  Financially, that is.  Morally, it’s likely a step back.
But, I’m ok with that.  All’s fair in love and laughter, right?

So – step up, lovers of love – and help better the world one unrequited message at a time.  And remember what we’ve learned today – women don’t have it easier at all.  I dare say our ‘job’ is the harder of the two.   It’s a difficult life being an amazing woman.  But someone’s gotta do it, so…I’ll man up.

(I’d like to thank my friend Sean for helping me come up with this devious shady masterful plan.)

Drama, Drama, Red Pajama

Quick disclaimer – this post took a major turn for the smooshy… so – it’s not as funny as some others, but I promise the next one will be full of spit-your-drink-out horrifyingly comical photos and online misfires.
End qualifier.

So, another thing men put on their profiles ALL THE TIME – is that they don’t want drama.
“Drama free,” they say.  Or, “I’m not looking for drama.”

Yes you are.  And yes you do.

I don’t think they’re saying what they really mean.  (Huge surprise there, am I right?)

I think what they MEAN is that they either:
a. don’t want to be stalked by a crazy woman, or
b. don’t want to deal with a woman who demands too much emotional energy from them.
(The first is legit, the second is lazy).
And seeing as I’m not crazy or lazy – or Patrick Swayze (sorry… but I couldn’t resist the rhyme…it’s my inner rapper… she is ALWAYS causing problems), I think I make the cut.

I maintain that everyone wants drama.  The good kind.  Hello…that’s why we put ourselves in the way of love, isn’t it?  We want sparks and fireworks and butterflies and ultimately – real love.  BIG love.  At least I do.

I suppose there are men out there who would be ok with a sort of mediocre companionship.  You know – someone to watch ‘your shows’ with and take turns with any of various household chores.  But, I’d venture that MOST of us want something more.  Most of us want to find someone who takes our breath away, makes us happy to begin another day because we’ll get to talk with/spend time with/smooch/snuggle with them.  Someone who – (hold on… I’m resisting quoting Jerry Maguire… ok…I think I’ve fended it off… for now) – desires you… WANTS you.  Maybe even needs you.  (no…chill.   – not in a codependent kind of way.  In that healthy – you bring out the best version of me – kind of way.  In that – ‘you’re good peeps’ kinda way.  And who doesn’t need that?)  Someone with whom you can be intimate.  And vulnerable.  Known and loved.

All of the best moments of my life have been full of drama.  Think about it!?  First kisses, best kisses, marriages, great sex, babies, getting amazing news, promotions, watching an amazing story unfold or maybe even just something as simple as getting ‘that look’ from someone… all drama.  Think about music.  We love it because it EVOKES something in us.. it wakes up a dramatic piece inside us that we long to feel.  The best moments are full of drama.

But, then, so are the worst.

So – I suppose this is why love is such an enormous risk… because if you REALLY put yourself in the way of drama…er…love, then you risk having your heart crushed.  And no one wants that drama.
But I dare say that those of us who have had our hearts torn into pieces the most severely…the most deeply – have also loved the hardest, and I for one – have not given up hope that there is still drama out there.   The good kind.

I guess what I’m saying is – I want the drama.  I don’t want so-so.  I don’t want to settle.  I want passion and fire.  And yes, I am well aware that after that first season of initial infatuation, that the fire dies down into the steady glowing embers of faithfulness and friendship.  But I love that too.  And I think that there is a certain dramatic poetry to that kind of relationship as well.  Knowing you’ve found someone who loves you enough to choose only you – that’s pretty dramatic.  Knowing you are understood, accepted and loved – that’s high drama.  And I love it.

So, if you’re with me, raise a glass to love and fireworks and butterflies in your tummy.  Bring the drama.  DEFNITELY don’t save it for your mama…

I’m just sayin’.

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?  Hows 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.

Let the GAMES begin.

I’d like to chime in on  (as in – critique, judge and assert my superiority over) some of the most common phrases I read in men’s online profiles.   These catch my eye because a. I don’t think they’re honest, and b. they’re just no FUN!  Sheesh…

The first in this series is one I see all the time – as in, probably 50% of the online profiles that come across my inbox.  And it brings up all kinds of questions and philosophies of dating:

No games.”  Or

I’m not into playing games.”

Really?  I’ll bet you are.  I’ll bet you play them more than women do…

Now, let’s just assume they’re not talking about board games (e.g. Settlers of Catan, Scrabble), social family games (e.g. Taboo, Guesstures), or card games.  (Though, …ahem….find me a guy who can sit at a coffeehouse and play endless rounds of crossword game, SET, or some other two-player nerdy game, and I am IN.  So in.)

And I KNOW they’re not talking about video games… I think the percentage of men who don’t play video games is so small that it’s not even considered part of the normal bell curve anymore…. Sigh…

No, they mean the “games” of dating.  Ah…here we go.
(cracks knuckles as if to say, “let’s get down to BIDness up in this plizzace!”)
We all know this stuff, we all play along to some degree, and yet – people are always saying that they don’t like it or do it.
I call BS.
This MAY be one of the most infuriating parts of dating – knowing when to “play” and when to just be yourself.  It’s an intricate dance, I’m here to tell you.  You have to know your audience (the guy in question), know yourself, and be making split-second decisions with each sentence that comes out of your mouth, each flirty smile or glance, each text you do or don’t send, each crossing or uncrossing of your legs or fiddling with your napkin or eating while looking sexy (pshyah…. as if.), each moment of time you let pass between any of various forms of communication…all the time.  It’s exhausting!

EVERYONE DOES THIS.  Guys are not exempt.

I talked at length about this with my last boyfriend.  He was surprised (I think possibly a bit uncomfortably at the very beginning when he didn’t know how to read it), but then ENJOYED the fact that I’m the kind of girl who just – says what she means.  As in – really.  Here’s a tiny example:  If I have JUST gotten off the phone with someone and all I can do is grin and think how much I like him, I’m not going to follow the rules of conduct about death-by-over-communication, I’m going to send him a text, saying, “I can’t stop thinking about you…” (or something along those lines).

What that MEANS is:

–          I’m not going to be overwhelmed when a guy speaks HIS mind and is honest/authentic about his thoughts feelings…this is freeing!  (It also rarely happens…. cue the sad trombone…)

–          But, I’m also going to lose lots of potential suitors who get weirded out by my approach.

I should tell you – I’m known to tip my hand.  (And yes, I see the redundancy of me telling you that I tip my hand… I’ve essentially tipped my hand that I’m tipping my hand…lotta tipping going on… but the sign at my salon says “tipping makes you pretty,” so…I’m just gonna go with it.)  Yes, I will SAY when I like someone – which freaks people out.
What?  Since when?  If someone who had just spent time with me told me s/he really liked me – I would love it!
Why are we supposed to pretend like we don’t…. is that somehow going to manipulate the other person into pursuing you more, I suppose?  Oy…I can’t keep up!

I heard a quote in a sad movie the other night, as this girl watched her best friend steal the love of her life away, “It never occured to me that Ruth would like him…she was always so mean to him.  I guess perhaps I should have been mean to him too.”  Man!  Break my heart, why don’t you?  Is this how to get guys?  Be sufficiently wenchy?

I think guys are taught (at SOME level) to trick girls into liking them.  Either by being distant and unapproachable, or never tipping their hand about their level of excitement/attraction.  This keeps all the power on their side, with the woman questioning where she stands.  Is this not a game?  Sounds gamey to me…

Here are some of the “games” that are put upon the single/dating community:

–          How and when to give out your number.  Too soon is slutty/needy, too late is prudeish/boring/hard-to-get.

–          Giving and receiving compliments (I’m going to do another post on this where I go more into depth on my hypothesis about why men complimenting women is a dying art).  But – how to give out a compliment to a man is a whole KINDA song-and-dance…
be sure to make it sound organic, don’t be TOO flattering – it’ll seem desperate, don’t be TOO coy – it’ll seem fake, don’t pick something that will come off sounding overly sexual, but also don’t choose something that he won’t take any real pride in (nice socks…that sort of thing).  I’ve gotta go have a bit of a lie down, just THINKING about it.

–          How long to wait after meeting someone, to call or text.  One of the sweetest things I ever heard in this regard, was from my best friend.  She’d just gone out on a blind date, and as she was driving home (so…only moments after), she received a text saying, “I know it’s against ‘the rules’ to text so soon, but I couldn’t help it.  I had a great time and can’t wait to see you again.”  C’mon…that’s just honey right there…

But, even in just the last week, I had two first dates – one, where, at the end, the guy said, in a seemingly genuinely excited way, “I’ll definitely be calling you soon!”…and haven’t heard from him yet; and another who was also excited about getting together again, but has only texted/called….zero invitation or allusion to meeting up again.   I was talking with a friend this morning who said – “I think a week is a normal turn-around time.”  For rizzle?  A WEEK?  If I’m excited about someone, I’m hardly going to be able to make it back to my HOUSE without wanting to figure out when we can see each other again… if you can go a whole week, …doesn’t seem like you’re really that excited?

–          What KIND of meeting/date to set up – Coffee?  Wine?  Daytime?  Evening?  Don’t pick a place too romantic, or it’ll make you look skeezy, don’t pick a place too pricey or he’ll think you’re a gold-digger, but if you pick something too casual, it may send the vibe that you’re cheap or don’t expend effort, don’t pick a place too loud where you can’t hear each other, but don’t pick someplace so quiet that there are those uncomfortably disconcerting cricket chirps between sentences,…..   dizzying, I tell you!

–          What to wear.  This is SO a ‘game.’  Wear something that shows off your…assets, but not too much.  Don’t look like you’re trying too hard (even though, of course, you are), but don’t underdress and look like a scrub.  Heels?  What if he’s short?  (Doesn’t matter what the online profile says…they lie)

–          How long to text before meeting…because some guys will text indefinitely.  I’ve literally texted, “So.  Are we gonna meet up or what?”  I mean, let’s DO this thing, men!  Cowboy up!

–          And then, there’s HOW to text before meeting…  You have to ride that delicate balance of flirty and winsome, without seeming anxious.  You can’t go into too much personal detail or it sounds like you’re husband-shopping (which…c’mon…ULTIMATELY …you are…right?).  Don’t be too distant, though, or he’ll think you’re inaccessible.

Does anyone else feel a nap coming on?

This is some tricksy stuff.  And…the saddest part about it is…. if only you could skip ahead to the part where he KNOWS you – the part where you can be your true self – comfy pjs, undone hair and a movie with an embarrassing number of Disney Channel tween actors in it – the part where you can be goofy – the part where he knows the HEART of who you are, and how amazing you are, and how much real love (not fakey-fake-fakerson 1st date enamorement (yup – made that up)) you have to offer him….. if you could see ahead to that future, you’d probably find that you’re happier than any game-playing makes you.

I guess what I’m saying is….  “I’m just a girl.  Standing in front of a boy.  Asking him if he wants to watch the Leighton Meester box office hit, ‘Monte Carlo’.”

Lookin’ for Nub….

A few people have criticized me for being in the world of online dating… saying that it’s a lost cause/dead end.  And a few thoughts go through my mind.  First – do you think that’s all I’m doing in my search for love?  C’mon…  But, secondly – why is the online dating scene such a dead end, when it’s at LEAST one step up from bar hopping?  I mean, at least with online sites, I’m able to filter potential partners with some of my desired traits, right?

So…where do you GO to look for love?  This is one of THE questions for us on the single scene.  And if you ask around, you’ll get LOTS of opinions.  Almost all of those from married or ‘taken’ friends.   The same ones who apparently have NO single friends left to set you up with…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I guess when choosing your “pool,” you have to consider your end-game goal.  So, for instance, I know I want a guy who has a real faith in God, so… where would be the logical place to meet him?  That’s right –

–          Church.  This is what EVERYONE tells me.  “Go to church.  You’ll meet a good man there.”  (you should’ve read that in a grandmotherly, yet slightly condescending tone).
But this is easier said than done!

Look – I already GO to church every week.  It’s important, no – central to me – to be part of a faith community.  And, no, I do not go to church to hunt for men.  But, I do welcome the opportunity to find a great guy in this venue.  The problem is…how?  I mean..what’s the protocol here?  Am I supposed to hand out my number during the greeting time?  Can we set up a margarita bar in the lobby?   Perhaps we can have a mid-week dinner, Bible Study and speed dating event?  (and I am SO not kidding.  I would go to this…let the record so reflect).

So, if church isn’t panning out, what are my other other options?

–          Set-ups by mutual friends who know you well?  Awesome idea.  For me… this has happened ONCE.  Yup.  I’m one of the friendliest people I know, and yet – none of my friends know of anyone to match me up with.  I don’t know if this is because they just don’t interface with single men my age?  Or if they know how neurotically picky I am and don’t dare unleash me on anyone they care about?  Either way… the magic isn’t happening…

–          The bar scene.  Everyone refers to this as if it’s an actual place.  I should open a bar and call it “The Bar Scene.”  Or maybe it’s more of a philosophical archetype?… I digress…  People are constantly saying they don’t want to meet the “kind of people” you meet at bars.  Really?  I mean… if I’M a quality single woman and I go to bars… then, doesn’t it stand to reason that I may have a male counterpart out there who does also?  Perhaps I should clarify the kind of ‘bars’ I’m talking about… I think people must picture me walking into some saloon-esque dive in the seediest part of town where the only people there are the unbathed guys who’ve been drinking since 10:00am, some rogue gang members and meth-heads, and me – slamming my entitled fist on the bar while demanding, “gimme the hard stuff!  Line ‘em up and keep ‘em comin’!”…  Unless you call a wine flight in Upper Kirby the ‘seedy’ part of town, that’s not my thing.  No, I’m talking about wine bars or Happy Hour at the tons of fun restaurants Houston offers up, or the dance club/bars where I salsa or 2-step.  Why is it so doubtful that there could be any good guys here?

And yet… I haven’t found any.

–          Happenstance meetings.  This is the way it works in romantic comedies, right?  Two people shopping in the produce section… a chance tumbling of a red pepper, he hands it to her, she blushes…. Cut to: video montage of their love story set to a Taylor Swift song.  This sounds lovely.  But, guess what… even at Club Kroger (which is the name I’ve affectionately assigned to the Kroger in the Heights – because it is always teeming with handsome single men), this never happens.  I have even taken the first step and started up light conversation with men.  Last week I had to hunt forever to find ripe avocados, so when I saw a cute preppy guy (who, I could just TELL loved Jesus…) looking in vain for a ripe one, I said, “uh oh, I think I got all the good ones…sorry.  But, hey, guacamole calls…”  He smiled, shrugged, and then went on his merry way.  Sigh…

I am always ready for my cinematically promised run-in… wherever I go.  And, I’m not shy.  I will give my card to someone if we strike up a conversation… but I can’t do this alone…the men have to participate!

–          Speed Dating or Singles “Events.”  Ok, again… RomComs have done us WrongCom.  You remember that scene in Hitch at the end where the two women are speed dating?  There’s a plethora of handsome, well-dressed, well-spoken men there – a veritable smorgasbord of dating opportunity.  Wanna know what that looks like in the real world?  I’ll tell you.

Last weekend, I dragged one of my single girlfriends to a speed dating mixer event (admittedly I bought my ticket through Living Social… no way I’m shelling out $35 for what could possibly be an hour of disaster or disappointment).

We got there (it was held at a nice tapas restaurant in MidTown) and filled out the paperwork, got a drink and soon were off and running.  All the women sat at numbered tables in a line and the men sat across from us, each with our papers to write notes, indicate which ones we liked, etc. (I’ve scanned mine for your vicarious entertainment).  Each man stayed for 5 minutes and then they’d switch and move to the next woman.

I will tell you this – I was on fire.  I was witty, friendly, charismatic without being intimidating… I flashed my winning smile at the bevvy of lame jokes I heard.  I answered the boring questions with grace.  I even listened with rapt attention as one guy went into an unfortunate level of detail about his recent toe surgery.  “I mean…it was really gross.  They had to go back in because the infection was so deep….”  (I’ll spare you the rest).  But, really?  He had FIVE. MINUTES.  Five minutes!!  And he spent at least 2.25 on the toe surgery…yum.

The problem was that the majority of the men there didn’t speak English as their first language (I’m putting this mildly…you can ask my friend…).  A few were even new to the country.  Everyone was friendly, but I felt like I was giving immigration interviews, not searching for the perfect romantic partner.

But…there was one guy.  Let’s put it this way: a divinely appointed sunbeam might as well have shined on him as all the women in the room heard the angelic chorus, “Aaaaah…”  He was handsome, intelligent, funny, well-traveled, had a good job and was a great conversationalist.  He was also the object of attention from every woman there.  When he came to my “station,” we exchanged witty banter, we laughed, connected, …it was dreamy (of COURSE I’m exaggerating a little bit…it’s more amusing that way).  Afterwards, he sat across from my friend and I and we talked some more, he asked for my card, …things were going great.  Until I dropped two bombs on him.  I can’t be sure which one was the final blow – that made the light in his eyes snuff out – the fact that I have kids, or the fact that I’m “religious.”  I think he visibly rolled his eyes when I mentioned that one…   You know that moment when you can hear the record scratching followed by a disillusioned “womp womp womp…?”  Yeah….
So, he quickly changed his strategy and struck up conversation with the pretty girl at the table next to us, practically stretching his body in front of us to get her attention.  We took the cue and left.

The lady in charge told us that we’d hear from anyone who marked on their sheets that they were interested.  You know how many I heard from?  Zero.

And that brings me back to online dating.

Is it really so crazy that I’d look for a man in a place that’s full of men – where they’ve already given me more information than I can get at ANY of the above spots?  Before I ever interact with a guy, I already know if he can use proper punctuation, what he deems significant enough to put in his profile, his age, what part of town he lives in, his spiritual preferences, and how he looks.  Seems like a decent starting point to me…?

Camping, Crossfit and Creatures…Oh My

I love the way the men on dating sites so easily list their ‘demands.’  And, as you may have suspected, when I say “love,” I mean that I find it insanely annoying…

It’s one thing to list the things you enjoy…in hopes that the girl you find may like some of them.  It’s even ok to list a few deal-breakers.  I mean, heck…we all have ‘em.  But why do men expect that the girl they want to find, is going to love all the things they do?  I mean… I don’t expect to find a guy that wants to Zumba with me, and then sip veggie smoothies from Jamba Juice whilst watching Gossip Girl, and then hunker down in bed playing Words-With-Friends.  (But, …to be clear…if I FOUND that guy… and he was straight….I’d lock that junk DOWN).

Women don’t do this.  We definitely have our expectations of the kind of person we want… but our “list of demands” has to do more with character and relational style than hobbies or interests.  I, for one, am not holding my breath that I’m going to find a guy who wants to go shopping at Sephora with me – spritz all the new scents, try the latest lipgloss colors, and search for the perfect blush brush.  That’s what I have my best friend for.   And there are certainly activities that I love, and would love to find a guy who wanted to enjoy them with me, but……I don’t make them dealbreakers.  I would love to find a guy who will throw me around the dance floor… but this isn’t a condition of dating or loving someone!  And I’ve come to terms with the fact that – that may be something I just do with girlfriends – and I’m ok with that!

Not the men I’ve run across on the online scene…

I’m considering just starting my profile with this disclaimer…I really think it’ll bring the men running:

“I don’t like camping, sports, hunting, video games or dogs.  I have zero problem with my significant other liking/doing/having these things – and I may even join in from time to time if he is gracious about it.  But, don’t make it a condition of dating me… cause you’ll be missing out.  😉

I really think that starting out on such a positive note will be well-received.  After all, all the men say they want an honest woman, right?

Here are some of the annoying or even tacky expectations I’ve run across:

1.  “I love to camp, and my girl needs to love it to.” (aside: if there are quotes, then, yes, I’m literally quoting a profile.  But then, I would’ve used the correct “too,” so maybe you already knew that) – a lot of women like being with a man who loves to camp, but we don’t particularly enjoy sleeping on the ground and having to hike to use the potty…

I would bet that, of all the girls who actually DO enjoy camping, if you were to take cute boys out of the mix, 90% of them would be out.

I like Jim Gaffigan’s take on camping –


And it’s not that I’m a total princess.  I mean – I sweat!  Hello, I Zumba, I go out salsa dancing and 2-stepping.  I can get dirty… I’ll dig in the sand, or wade through seaweedy water at the beach with my kiddos.  But when it comes to sleeping – I want my bed.  And my climate control.  And my flushable, clean, doesn’t-smell-like-toxic-waste toilet that’s a mere 8 steps away…  is that so wrong?  (OK, …in all fairness… I suppose I AM a princess…. moving on…)

2.  Sports lovers who want their potential partner to love them as much as they do.
Men – these girls are out there.  There are 4 of ‘em.

Otherwise, we’re at varying degrees on the continuum from
“enjoy sports from time to time but don’t want to have to suffer through daily games during any given season”
“endure it only because we love you.”
For my part… I’m on the “endure” end… so that alone apparently makes me an ill-fitting candidate for a lot of men…

I also don’t want to watch ESPN as they talk ABOUT the game we just watched (read: that I was already forced to endure…).  You know how LONG these things are to begin with?  In the time it takes something-something-team to play all the innings, quarters or what-have-you, I could’ve had a massage, facial, man-pedi, had lunch with a friend, done my taxes and brewed my own beer.

Now – I WILL gladly snuggle up with someone as he watches the game – but don’t expect me to participate in any fashion.  I’m not gonna scream at that ‘awesome play!’ or jump up and down yelling at the TV, “C’mon, ref!  Are you blind??”   And if you turn to me and say, “Oh my GOSH, did you SEE that?”  I’ll want so badly to know what you’re talking about because I care about you, but the truth is, I was probably staring off into the space just to the left of the TV contemplating what shoes would go with those new earrings I just found at the cutest little shop…. The best scenario you can hope for would be me sitting next to you, on my laptop with the earbuds in, plowing through a season of Drop Dead Diva or something equally ‘other’ from sports.  Can we make that work?  I propose that we can.

–       “Must love dogs.  Non-negotiable.”  (Again…direct quote)

You know how many men have something akin to this phrase in their profile?  Do I get to say the same thing about my animal of choice?  “Chinchilla lovers only.  I’m very firm on this.”

I mean… it’s not like just because I’m not a dog person, I’m gonna slowly poison theirs.
Well…I mean… not unless it’s a yapper.
Or a licker.
Or smells gross.
Or jumps up and puts holes in my clothes….
Ok, now that I think about it…. It would be SO simple to just leave the back door open… No, no… that would be wrong.

Oh, settle… I’m joking.  I am neutral on dogs.  I don’t love them.  I don’t hate them.  My ex had a sweet (wild, but sweet) dog who was kind enough to keep my feet warm in the winter when I’d be watching movies in his let’s-make-the-inside-feel-as-cold-as-the-outside-winter-air house.  I even fed his dog for him from time to time (okay, I think it was twice), or let him out, or went on walks with him (again…this was just to be with the cute boy, but still…that counts, …right?).  I guess I just don’t want to be in charge of a dog.  If I can be part of the guy’s life and co-exist with the animals…isn’t that enough?  Do I HAVE to be friends with them?  Doesn’t seem fair to make this a condition for love.

3.  Gym Rats who expect their partner to work out as much as they do.  I LOVE working out, but I don’t want to feel like the affections of a man are resting on how many times I made it to the gym in a given week.  Also – I do not want to do P90X or Crossfit…for whatever that’s worth.  Every time I hear a guy proselytize about those, I feel like I’m getting the Amway or Pampered Chef speech.  “I’d love to tell you about some exciting opportunities in the fitness world!”  Oy…

Side note on this one…   There are a large number of men who specify that they want a woman who is skinny or fit…and go to great lengths to make it clear that they aren’t interested in imperfect bodies.  You know…if that’s what you want… fine!  But, saying it makes you sound douchey and shallow.  All you have to do is look at the pictures and you’ll know if she’s a match for you.  That’s why we HAVE profile pictures!  So you can choose to communicate with the people YOU find attractive!

I actually read one profile where the guy wrote, “Looks are really important to me.  If you even think you might be overweight, you probably are …so don’t contact me.”  Keep it classy, Match.com…

Another guy made plans with me.  Full-on plans – with times, location, and everything.  We were flirting/texting back and forth for a while the day of our planned meeting, and then he texted,

“Are you fit?”

Red flag.

This guy had already presumably seen my photos on my profile and I have several H2T pics on there (head to toe – full length) – specifically so that these guys can see what they’d be getting into – no false advertising here.  I’ve come to terms with my situation.  I’ve had two kids, I love food… I’m a curvy woman.  But I also work out hard several times a week, and go dancing.  I’m in pretty good shape…under these curves…  So – how was I supposed to answer this?  The very fact that he texted it was discouraging – because it was information…
information about his priorities (or the fact that he’d just skimmed my profile and not even looked at the photos?).

I texted back, “Well, I’ve had two kiddos, but I also workout 3-4 times a week, so I’m in decent shape.  Here’s a photo from a week ago” and I attached a very recent picture of me.

He texted back something along the lines of that being acceptable…blah blah… the end gist of it is this:
…he never showed.

Yup.  A real gentleman.

(And then guys are genuinely surprised when women are self-conscious about our looks/shapes….)

I haven’t even covered hunting or video-games….but for the sake of your time – I’ll save those for another juncture.

So…to summarize…

If you’re looking for a partner who loves to camp, hunt, do P90X with you every day, loves sports and who will take care of your dogs…you’re barking up the wrong tree.  (see what I did there?)  In fact, you may just want to date your best guy friend…in which case, we have a whole other sorta roadblock on our hands…ahem…

But, if you’re looking for someone who has an equal number of interests of her own that she won’t require you to adopt, but is fun, smart and sassy…. I think I know of JUST the girl.

The leave behind… and not the good kind

So… I’ve decided I should invent some dating “helpers.”  And I’d like to share these ideas with you.  They’re patent-pending, of course, but if you get in a pickle, feel free to print them out and use them – just give me the credit when it goes over smashingly…which it undoubtedly will.

The first is a simple form (you can carry a couple copies in your purse at all times…just in case) for those times when you’re on a date, and you know it’s going nowhere.  You know the ones… you’re five minutes in and you realize you’ve slated over an hour of your precious time for a dud.  (Now, before you go getting all mad at me for calling this fictitious character a “dud,” keep in mind that one woman’s trash is another’s treasure.  I’m not saying he’s a “dud” for everyone, but – for you and what you’re looking for…he doesn’t make the cut.  OK – disclaimer over).

You may have even bought a new outfit, maybe just new shoes, just for the occasion.  At the very least, you took the time to carefully select your ensemble, get your hair just right, do your makeup “date quality” (that is – you actually use the eye-shadow ‘base’ that you never put on for work and you bust out the sparkly eye-liner…Juuuuuust in case…), shave your legs, squeeze yourself into at least one pair of spanx, all the while listening to whatever your personal choice of pump-you-up music is (mine, depending on my mood, includes such artists as:  Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Girl Talk, Ingrid Michaelson or some sexy Bossa Nova…but I digress…) – you’re all set to go… heart racing just a little quicker on the drive there – because… “what if?”

But then you get there and ….you might as well hear the record scratch… he is (to put it mercifully) – underwhelming.

I’m not even talking about looks (though… isn’t it fun when he looks NOTHING like his profile photos?  That’s always a tricky minefield to navigate in conversation…”Oh, I didn’t recognize you there…you!… you look so…different from your picture!”  (you’re sporting a smile that you’re hoping conveys the message:  “in a good way!  Boy, you sure are handsome.  So much more than that picture of you on your profile where you were 100 pounds lighter with all your hair and teeth…”)).

No, I’m talking about him being one of “those guys.”  What guys you might ask?  (And let’s be honest – if you’re a single woman on the dating scene…you don’t have to ask…you know exactly who I’m talking about).  By way of example, my girlfriend Nancy just told me about a date she had recently….join me as I recreate the scene.  She was excited because he was a handsome European man who seemed intelligent, had a job he loved and was genuinely interested in her.  But every time he would ask her a question (e.g., “What did you do today?”) and she would give her answer (e.g., “I worked… we had a huge conference call…etc., etc.”), he would begin this uber-condescending slow clapping with his head cocked ever so slightly and a smug teasing (not in a good way) look on his face.  Slow clap?  The slow clap.  Are you serious?  Unless some handsome preppy college guys are standing one-by-one and chanting “Oh Captain, My Captain,” this does NOT work.  And he did it multiple times!  The first time, she laughed it off because she could tell he thought he was being funny.  But after it continued through the night, she was just frustrated (probably had her feelings hurt a little – like he was mocking her answers), and knew the date was going nowhere.

So – for all the “Slow Clap” men out there – those who “seem” like a good idea, but end up being a colossal disappointment in the first few minutes of the date – I propose what I like to call – an Early Dismissal Program (EDP).

Because – why should we have to endure the rest of the time we COULD be home cracking a bottle of wine, slipping into our PJs and watching episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, appeasing a man we have zero interest in?  I mean… my kid-free time is so precious little, that I have to think about this economically….and to spend any more time with Mr. Slow Clap (yes…that has now become an archetype.  (Holla, Jung fans!))…. well, it’s just bad biz.

So – here’s what I suggest:  excuse yourself from the table to use the restroom, go to said restroom and pull out one of my handy pre-made forms from your purse, check the reason for the EDP , and give it to a server to hand to him after you’ve snuck out the door to your car.

Date over leave behind form (pdf for easy printing)

(Obviously you’ll change the name at the bottom of the form.  And you can even print them in index card size for ease of carrying… make this your own.)

Now…feel free to modify this form to fit your specific needs or pet peeves.  And also don’t hesitate to direct his attention to the backside where you can choose to leave additional comments or suggestions.  After all – this is a growth edge for him – make it count.

Never say I didn’t offer my helpful dating services, friends.

Personal Shopper?

So – did you know that you can have someone on Match.com write your profile FOR you? Yup, for $42.63, some mid-level someone in some office somewhere will take your tidbits and turn them into a bio.  They’ll also rewrite your headline.  Sigh…  This is a whole new low.  What could possibly be the reason you couldn’t even put together a simple paragraph about yourself?  Are you THAT lazy?  THAT unintelligent?  THAT unsure of who you are?  I mean…any of the reasons I can think of for not writing your own bio are also all reasons why no woman would want to date you.  Ipso facto there is no point in paying for online dating services.  Just buy a cat, get out those sweatpants with the super stretchy waistband and call it a day.

Still – I have a few questions about these profile writers:

First – why do they insist on making ALL the profiles sound the same?  I used to think it was some kind of horrifying coincidence that so many bios sounded SO alike, but now I realize it must be that each of these cookie cutter profiles were written by the Match.com “editors.”  (And I put that in qutoes because…well…you’ll see).  Here’s what they ALL sound like:   (ahem…. clears throat and cracks knuckles):

I’m new to Houston and just wanting to see what’s out there.  I’m an easy-going, fun, loyal and caring person looking for that someone special that I can enjoy life with.  I enjoy going out on the town or just staying in.  Really, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing if you’re with someone you love.  I believe that you have to be friends first – finding your soulmate is great, but finding a best friend is the most important part.  I workout 5 times a week, have 2 dogs who I love, love to cook and just have fun.  I’m looking for someone who I can share my interests and life with.  Could you be the one?   I have a great job, but it doesn’t consume me.  I work hard to play hard.  I’m very laid back and don’t take myself  too seriously and prefer the same quality in the people around me.  My friends would describe me as an outgoing, funny, spontaneous, adventurous guy with a splash of sarcasm (just for added flavor). I try to have fun in everything that I do. I have my own business that I built from the ground up and I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m fairly content in life but would like to find that someone special to share it with. My perfect match is someone who likes to have fun, is independent, always ready to meet new people, up for challenges, adventures and travel. You are confident about yourself and your life.  You have some spunk and love to laugh at everything, you’re definitely affectionate, and you have your own ideas and opinions.  Oh, and a girl who’s just as comfortable in a formal dress and heels as she is camping or throwing her hair up into a ponytail to go to a football game.  If that sounds like you, send me an e-mail.

* Ok – in case you’re thinking to yourself, “well, THAT wasn’t very well-written…,” that’s because that’s how they ARE!  You pay someone to churn out a mediocre collection of loosely connected sentences that don’t really say much at all!  They’re never witty or clever or unique.  Swoon.

2.  Can I sort my matches by weeding OUT all the guys who opted to have someone “help” them write their profile?  If you’re at that point, then I’m not interested.

I mean – it’s not really FAIR, is it?  I could be falling in love with some guy (ok, maybe not falling in LOVE, but… being impressed?!) and it turns out he’s not even able to write a simple description?  Of himself?  I mean, it’s not like the subject matter is foreign to him…  If it is, I can offer MY services as a therapist to help him learn/understand himself better.  Sure…it’ll cost him more than $42.63, but… he’ll be able to write his OWN profile, so…. that’s something, right?

3.  Does this mean I can start posting photos of Catherine Zeta Jones in lieu of my own?  I mean…sure, the’re not ME (though,…let’s be honest…we COULD pass for sisters…), but – isn’t that the point?  Your profile no longer needs to represent you!?  Isn’t this just the same as posting a profile written by someone else?

4.  I would like to suggest a new kind of helper.  I can handle composing  my own profile…, but I’d like to click an option where a Match.com “reader” sifts through the endless parade of poorly-written profiles FOR me and distills them down to the few that actually interest me!  Is that a service I can choose?

And really, …why stop there?  Maybe we can just continue this process, wherein – I have a personal man-shopper (to be clear – the man is the object of the shopping, not a requirement for the gender of my shopper…. though…if the shopper himself were single and handsome and smart, then, I suppose we could just cut out the middle man…?  I digress…).  Here’s what I propose:  This person will wade through the murky waters of boring all-sound-the-same profiles, report notable ones to me, then I’ll pick a few to continue with and my man-shopper can meet up with them for drinks and then report back to me.  I will, of course, have a checklist and post-date form for my personal shopper to fill out so I’ll know who merits a second date.

Alright, alright…. I know – it’s ridiculous.  But then again, so is paying someone to write about YOU.  Argh…

So – to sum up –   not only is there a DEARTH of quality single guys left out there… but the few you DO find online, may not actually exist.  They may be figments of Match.com’s editorial imagination.

Keep hope alive, peeps…

They’re worth 1,000 creepy words…

Profile pictures.  Yup.  It’s time for the talk.

Here are some that are not recommended.  And….to be clear…. When I say “not recommended,” what I really mean is, [pumps her fists angrily into the air] “WHY?  Why do people think this is OK?  Why, I ask you??”  Ok.  Overly dramatic rant over.

For now.

1.  Naked pictures.  It’s one thing if you have a shot of yourself at the beach or on a boat, where you’re in swim trunks – that’s perfectly acceptable.  But don’t take your shirt off at home, arrange your shorts just low enough to show your Abercrombie man-creases, and then use your phone in the bathroom mirror while flexing your muscles and raising one eyebrow…

2.  Pictures where you look angry.  I’m already taking a risk putting myself out there on the ‘ol interwebs… so, scowling like a terrorist or a gang member doesn’t exactly instill confidence in your gentle or romantic side.  I tend to not be turned on by potential murderers… I’m just sayin’…

3.  Photos that display your WAY-too “bachelor pad”-y house. Here’s a simple checklist to use when setting up your photo shoot:  If there are more than 2 of the following IN the shot, put down your phone and correct the situation:

-a power tool

-any cleaning supplies – extra points deducted if the dirty swiffer sheet it still on….ick.

-food.  This includes ready-to-eat, already-mostly-eaten and pantry products (I don’t need to see the box of Cheez-Its you keep by the bed)

-a nasty toilet (nasty as defined by having any color other than the color of the bowl/lid on or near it) or a hairy bathroom sink

-empty beer bottles

-pile(s) of clothing

-Call-of-Duty Game case

-Unidentifiable goo, stuff, or schmutz of any kind

-Camo anything

-Framed Motivational poster.  Unless you’re going for irony… or unless it’s from Despair.com

-Your Rock Band guitar

-Used eating utensils

-Torch lamp – a la college dorm room

-Toys – you know…those things that you shouldn’t still play with, but you label it ‘collector’ and suddenly it’s just fine – like Star Wars light sabers and such

-Your dubstep CD collection

-A bong

4.  Pictures of you with perfectly-proportioned gorgeous women.  You know the ones… you’re trying to say, “look at me – I’m the kind of guy who can score THIS,” but  what I see is, “great…he’s the kind of guy who’s only looking for outside beauty.”  Even if the girls in the photos really are deeply intelligent, all I see is eye candy.  And this seems to be a guy-specific thing.  I wouldn’t even consider posting photos of me with my ex.  After all – I don’t want to give off any vibe that’s less than “I’m available.”

5.  Multiple photos of your dog.  We get it…you love your dog.  You don’t see me posting photos of my iPhone, do you?  (and don’t even think to yourself, “oh that’s not the same – you can’t LOVE your iPhone.”  Oh.  Oh hohoho…yes.  you can.)  Look – one dog shot says, “I HAVE a dog.”  Two say, “I really LOVE my dog.”  Three or more say, “Either I’m hideous and would rather post pictures of my puppy than my repulsive mug, or I have an unhealthy obsession with photographing my dog.”  Oh and – my house smells…. Like dog.”

6.  Photos of random stuff that has nothing to do with you or dating… ones I’ve seen (and I’m not making this stuff up):  crawfish (see below), a fishing pole, a museum with no people in the shot, cars/motorcycles/4-wheelers and a banana (ahem….)

In case you think that maybe this guy was a chef or there was some other logical reason to post this pic…. he wasn’t. And there wasn’t.

7.  No pictures.  What?  I mean…I don’t like to think of myself as shallow, but I have to see SOME representation of what you look like… if, for no other reason than to check for prison tats.

8.  Your high school graduation picture.  Really?  Really, you think this helps somehow?  All it does is tell me that you’re either way too young and thus consider this a ‘recent’ photograph, or you’re still stuck in high school ‘mode,’ (and if you don’t know what that means – then you probably are).

9.  Multiple shots of you sticking your tongue out and doing the devil/rock-on sign with your hand.  I mean, how many of these does a body really NEED?

Not only are we doing the college/drunk pose, but you’re also wearing what I can only assume is a gangster necklace and drinking…(judgmental gulp) Bud Lite? Dude… You’re better than this.

10.  Commemorative plates, mugs, mouse pads, etc. which have been made with your photo.  … we all know how to use snapfish.  You’re not special.  But now you’re just the tool who posted a picture of a plate.

11.  Cutting JUST the head of your ex out of the shot.  Dude.  It’s called “crop tool.”

12.  Cutting out your head from a physical photo and scanning it in.  Once more – it’s called the “crop tool.”

And…who cut this out? Your Kindergartner?

13.  Putting a black circle or blurred spot over JUST the head of your ex.  Why do you think I need to see her body?  Again, say it with me this time– “crop tool.”

14.  Super artsy shots where there’s NO getting past the fact that you think you’re a big deal.  Picture it:  a black and white scuffed-edge effect shot of you wearing a jean jacket over a “I’m so hipster cool that I bought this at Good Will” plaid shirt with pearl snaps, holding a guitar (not strumming it, mind you), leaning against a brick wall and looking off into the distance contemplatively .  Note:  one of these types of photos is possibly acceptable (depends on the vibe I get from your profile… heck, maybe you ARE a big deal!  Maybe it’s the cover of your latest album and you really ARE a musician).  But a series of them says that your Montrose friend (oh, I went there…) came and did a photo shoot to make you look deep.  Let’s just call this what it is – the postmodern age’s version of Glamour Shots.

15.  A photo of you eating – mouth open – half-chewed food inside.  C’mon, dude….

16.  Up the nose.  Why are there so many of these?

17.  Having lots of pictures from around the world – all taken from far away.  I dig the well-traveled thing.  But, seeing that nondescript ‘guy’ in front of the Eiffel tower, then the pyramids, then on a yacht, then at Stonehenge, then in front of some Thai buddhist temple….alright already!  I’d rather see  one close-up shot to be sure you have all your teeth, than 30 pictures that make me think you might just have access to a green screen…

18.  Any picture which may even SUGGEST that you have a mullet.  You think they’re not out there?  Oh…they’re out there.

Just a HINT of mullet is too much mullet.

There’s no party here – that’s all “disaster in the back.”

19.  Pictures where you’re trying to prove your obvious profession as a pimp.

White vinyl couch? Check. White dog being forced to sit on your lap? Check. White hat, undershirt, overshirt AND watch? Check. Keepin’ it classy

Definitely the right choice on the scowl. No woman wants to “date” a pimp with a smiling problem.

20.  Any photo where your obvious laziness overpowers any handsomeness you bring to the table.  Check out this guy who couldn’t even put down his not-yet-lit cig.  And it’s not like he was caught unaware as some friend snapped it – this is a self-taken shot!  Really?  I can only HOPE you’ll put THIS much effort into our relationship.  (closes eyes tightly and crosses fingers)

Or this guy who couldn’t even put down his paper towel down on the men’s room counter…

Awesome job on centering the shot.

21.  Costume shots where it’s not obviously halloween or a costume party.  If these are your “going out clothes,” I’d rather you just stay in.

So many questions…1- who TOOK this photo? How can you call yourself a friend?
2 – where is your leg?

Oh, Houston….. where are the handsome, slightly-preppy-slightly-hipster well-dressed thoughtful picture takers/posters?

Signing off to go find more mockery material…

Tips & Judgmental Musings…

Here are a few thoughts and tips for the men out there creating online dating profiles:

(in no particular order)

– If you’re wearing a hat in all your profile photos, …the jig is up.  We know you’re bald.  Own it.

– Don’t start up communication with someone who’s WAY out of your age range…it’s just tacky.

No, Mr. 69-year old… I don’t think it’s gonna work out…

And on that note – what is UP with men wanting women SO much younger than they are?  I can’t tell you how many times I see a guy who’s my age (35), and is “seeking a woman 18-34.”  Really?  You would actually prefer a teenager over someone born the same year as you?  A teenager.  As in… not even old enough to buy beer.  As in… may actually get more excited about a sale at Forever 21 than going on a date with you.  As in… the aforementioned date can’t even involve big-girl drinks.                                                             As in… like….totally….whatever….you get it.

– No, I don’t want to “hang out” at your place…when we’ve never met in public.  How many bodies of other women who came to ‘hang out’ do you have piled in some creepy outdoor shed?  Decline.

– What is UP with these men in Canada?  Please don’t try to start a relationship with me if you live more than 25 miles away… what could possibly come of that?  I mean… isn’t the POINT of online dating, so that you can actually find someone that fits all of your expectations…right here by you?  And…we live in Houston!  It’s not like there’s a dearth of people…  And yet – and YET – no matter HOW many times I tell eHarmony that I want someone close, they still send me guys from Arizona, Missouri and Kentucky.  Are these the only men that ‘matched’ up with me?  Am I THAT picky that I have to outsource to Kentucky?  Something has gone terribly wrong… (no offense, Kentuckians…)

– Let’s stay away from the creepy or immature handles… Basic rule of thumb: if your online name is gross, you’re probably gross.

It doesn’t matter how handsome you are… if your ‘name’ is “SmoothTongue”…it’s just not gonna work out.  (yes – that is a real handle I encountered.  I’m not makin’ this stuff up, people).  Here are some I’ve seen:

  1. BigOne     – wow….overcompensate much?
  2. URDaddy     – let’s hope not.
  3. FunMilkMeGood   – what?  does. that. even. mean?
  4. Looking4U2Hold   …heavily sedated, in my arms…
  5. Edible4   -um…edible for what?  I’m confused… and oddly hungry…

-I’m not interested in dating you if…

  1.  You have a tattoo of any cartoon or transformer
  2. You smoke.  Gross.
  3. Your online name includes the words “dawg,” or “ese”
  4. You checked the box for “Christian” on your profile, but have zero interest in matters of faith.
  5. You think “alot” is a word.
  6.  You have anything even remotely related to a mullet.

– Other things to stay away from… not necessarily deal-breakers, but definitely off-putting:

  1.  Including a whole diatribe about how you ‘work hard to play hard’
  2. A soul patch.
  3. Giving a super specific list of what your potential partner should or shouldn’t like.  I mean… isn’t the whole point that people who enjoy different things can introduce their partners to new things?  I shouldn’t have to LOVE Ultimate Fighting or NASCAR to be appealing to you…
  4. Ultimate Fighting and NASCAR
  5. Coming off as overly sexual.  This one is a fine line because we all want to appear well-rounded and attractive and we all want to find someone with whom we have fantastic chemistry and one day connect with sexually.  But when sexual/physical chemistry seems to be your number one goal, it reads as smarmy or juvenile.
  6. Putting the word “handsome” or “good-looking” in your handle…  I mean….if you have to say it… I’m not so sure.

I mean….my goodness.  Just put a friendly picture of you smiling (keep your eye out for a post on photo do’s and don’ts in the next week), an authentic and witty (and succinct) profile paragraph about yourself and who you’re looking for, and we’ll take it from there!  Is that really asking for much?

Its Called a Contraction… (yes…Im going for irony)

I’d like to propose that online dating sites provide a few more “demographics” on the profiles.  I definitely want to know the usual stats:  Height, Weight, smoker?, Faith, etc. but – how’s about adding a basic intelligence quotient?  It wouldn’t take much, really…. A simple online test with a score between 1 and 10 that’s posted on your profile.  If I were designing this test, here’s what it would include:

1.  Can you properly assess the need for, and execute an apostrophe appropriately?  It’s one thing to make the occasional typo, but when you go the entire length of your (most-likey tedious and self-involved) bio without correctly using a contraction, I’m throwing up in my mouth just a little.

Here’s an unfortunate and all-too-common example of what’s out there:

Im new to Houston and Id like to meet a nice girl whos well-adjusted.  Its hard to find love out there, …Ive had a   few bad relationships, but Im still hopeful that theres someone out there for me.

Wow… just.. wow.

2.  Do you know the difference between your and you’re?  What about their, there and they’re?
If so… my number is 832-605-…… ok, ok…

3.  I’m going to tell you three jokes and measure the time it takes from the end of the punchline until you begin laughing.  Every second of delay takes away from your total score.  Ready?  Ok… “Three nuns walk into a bar….”   (you get my gist).

4.  Which of these is correct?

                   A.  You’ve had a lot of wine.  B.  You’re alot stupid.

Yeah…..’alot’ is not a word.  If you need help with this concept, I refer you to this helpful guide:


5.  Do you use phrases like (but not limited to):

“I could care less”;  “For all intensive purposes”;  “Probaly”;   “He’s drownding”;  “You should call my ‘real-a-ter’”

6.  Use of articles.  Of clothing, yes, but…more importantly, the grammar kind.

Unfortunate example:  “I’m manager of large corporation.”  Really?  You are?  Hard to swallow when you can’t even describe it properly…

p.s. If you don’t know what I mean when I say ‘articles,’ it’s time to wiki…

7.  Do you know what that red squiggly line means in Word?  Honey, for every one of those you let slip into your profile, that’s 5 potential dates you can kiss goodbye.

8.  Count the money in this picture…. (bahahahaha…. I’m kidding…. Sort of.  Ok, not really at all.  Let’s just get a baseline, shall we?)

9.  Do you know your cardinal directions?  If you think that has something to do with birds…just skip this question, …the ship has sailed.   But man…this is a pet peeve of mine.  If I call you to clarify where we’re meeting for drinks and I ask you if it’s “south of Washington St.,” and you say, “well, where are you coming from?” (neverMIND the preposition at the end of the phrase…I am a reasonable woman, I can look beyond that), you can be sure I’m rolling my eyes in judgmental resignation.  It doesn’t MATTER where I’m coming from.  It’s either north or south of that street.  That’s how this all works.  Points deducted if you don’t know N, S, E, W.

10.  Do you still use the phrase, “Booyah!”  ??  Unless you’re going for that hipster ironic vibe, then this deducts major points.

Once we get that number at the top of each profile, it will REALLY cut down my search time.  In moments of optimism I’ll go for 9’s and 10’s…and on particularly lonely weekends, I may settle for 6’s and up…

Man Shopping

So, after a heart-breaking, gut-wrenching break-up last winter, (I like to start things out on a light note)… I decided to try online dating.  I had briefly used “ChristianMingle.com” before, which is where I’d found my ex-boyfriend (we may hear more about him later….he’s given me license to make reference to him….[insert maniacal laugh].  But honestly, he was a great guy, so I figured I’d give it a go again!  Hmmm….it was a colossal disappointment.

Then, I figured I’d hit up a big name in online dating, “Match.com.”  Let me say, for the record, that Match.com has turned out 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…

Sure, there are some on there who aren’t smarmy, but there’s a high likelihood that those few, are stupid.  (I’ll explain later my parameters for assessing intelligence).  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.

So… I signed up for a couple months on “SingleParentMeet.com.”  Wow.  Just……wow.  I literally – and I am not making this junk up – just renewed my subscription with them SOLELY for the rich material it will provide me for this blog.  The steady parade of egregiously unqualified men has been staggering.  (More on that as we continue this ‘conversation’ in the coming months…).

Finally, I thought I’d pour my last vestiges of hope into the almighty “eHarmony.com,” or, as some of my friends 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 – 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 – perfect if you want an STD or a stalker

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…)

Conclusion:  I will now be relying on chance coincidences or “happening” to bump into Mr. Perfect at Club Kroger….. sigh…

“Mr. Perfect”

I thought about making my second post a diatribe on the different online dating sites and what they “offer” (a term I use loosely….because so far the only thing they’ve provided ME with… is fuel for this blog…).  But, as I started writing it, I realized I should first start with a description of what it is I’m looking for in a potential partner.

Is this a shameless attempt to have readers (I think there are a solid 4 of you so far…) see my “ideal” and set me up?  Yes.  Yes it is.

But, it’s also a bit of insight into why I’m still single…. I’m unbelievably picky.  I recognize this.  I have to admit that from the start so that I have full license to mock and pick at even the tiniest imperfections in the men that come across my path.  It’s only fair…

I am looking for …well…practically perfect.  I want a man who is intelligent, witty, loves God (and that means that he has a REAL faith where he wrestles with what it means to follow Christ in his life…not that he can check a box on Match.com that labels him as “Christian/Protestant.”), is passionate, friendly, funny, devilishly handsome,  outgoing, easy-going (doesn’t get easily heated/angry), has a decent job that he enjoys, appreciates a sassy curvy woman….and on and on the list goes.  Basically – picture that flawless man in all those rom-coms (you know…the ones written by fellow women?), add a healthy dose of spirituality – and that’s my guy.  That shouldn’t be hard to find…right?

So – in the interest of full authenticity, I’m posting screenshots of my Match.com profile.  That way – you can see what it is that I’m showing “the world.”  This is me – online Sarah.  Now you know who I am…. And what I want….

It shouldn’t be THAT hard to find…. Right?


Now that THAT’S out of the way, I’d like to walk us through the dysfunctional jungle of online profiles – where they go horribly, horribly wrong…how they make me giggle, and tips on making them better.

Dating, Disclaimers & Dysfunction….Oh My!

Alright.  Let me start with some sweeping disclaimers.  This blog:

–       may contain irreverent and inappropriate humor.  And, by “may,” I mean it most decidedly will.

–       is not suitable for people who have had their snarky gland removed.

–       Should not be taken with other medication, including self-righteousness, serious pills, anti-fun-amines, critical tablets, or anything else that will make you a sassy girl’s buzzkill

I decided to start this blog because I’ve had such …..um…. an “adventure” in this new season of dating… and some of it is so horrifically wrong that, in its absurdity, is actually quite amusing.  The more I talked with friends about my aforementioned ‘adventures,’ the more I decided there was enough to say about all this – that perhaps it merited some kind of public venue.

 Here’s the plan:  I plan on exploring the deeply troubled world of online dating (especially as it relates to a woman in her 30’s), the comical struggles of being a single mother, broader issues of life and love as they occur or come to me, and the intermittent thoughts and musings of guest contributors (fellow soldiers on the single front-lines).

So, there you have it.  I plan on exposing my own humorously dysfunctional foray into the world of dating – for your entertainment.  Buckle up, friends…