Category Archives: Relationships

Ask Sarah – Dating While Separated?

ask sarah

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

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

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

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

Dear Limbo-land,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a case by case situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Girls Gone Crazy

SO…. yesterday, we talked about this trend of women actually liking men who make themselves seemingly unavailable.  And the worst part of it is this:  it perpetuates the cycle by validating to men on the dating scene that yes, they can indeed win women by being jerks.  UGH!  Once again, we women are sabotaging ourselves.

How did this start?  Why do they do it?  And what’s an honest, ‘say-how-you-really-feel’ girl to DO?

Let’s use today’s post to consider the many varied and estupido reasons that women would be drawn to a meanie.

A couple of my personal theories…  And then (since it IS voting day), we’ll put it to a poll.

A.  The self-loathing theory.

A large number of women (men too, come to think of it), have such little self-worth, that in some twisted turn of sub-conscious events, they seek out “proof” of their un-worthiness by only chasing after someone who’s treating them poorly or turns to the uninterested side, because that somehow validates what they already believe to be true.  Rather than face the cognitive dissonance of “I think I’m not worth much,” yet “he seems to like me,” they wait for a a guy to NOT like them, so they can remain in the belief that they’re not worth a better guy.  This is so sad.  And yet… I think it’s often the case.  I blame the terrorists.

B.  The Grass-is-Greener theory.

This one’s simple.  You have something you like, but because we’re self-absorbed people, we grow lazy/greedy and don’t do the work to cultivate the good thing.  So, it goes away.  But as soon as it’s gone, we realize we want what we now “can’t have.”  It’s the “can’t have” part that makes it so deliciously tempting, you see.  Like when you’ve finished your last bite of cake, but your friend still has a whole piece…and you REALLY want it.  We’re broken people.  We want what we can’t have.  Even if we had our chance to have it, and blew it.

C.  The In-The-Pocket Theory

This is a selfish, but oft-used plan to keep your options open.  It’s essentially putting every remotely viable guy into the “Duckie” category (from Pretty in Pink).
Unfortunately, this method of hedging their dating bets, is sanctioned….even suggested by dating ‘professionals.’  Acclaimed matchmaker and author, Patti Stanger, recommends always having a “Pair and a Spare.”  The idea is that you always have some less-than-my-prince guys in your back pocket to help you in your dating career/decisions.
(By the way, if you hadn’t already picked up on my disdain for her methods, you can read my review of her book, “Becoming Your Own Matchmaker” here.)

This “Pair and a Spare” should, according to her, include:  1. The Best Straight Guy Friend (“Harry” from “When Harry Met Sally”).  2.  The “Big Maybe” – this guy roughly meets your standards, but doesn’t thrill you.  Still, he’s enjoyable to hang out with as your second choice, and he’s not yet descended to the friend zone.  And the second part of the “pair” is 3.  The One You Really Like.  I guess, ostensibly, having the other two is supposed to help you not put all your eggs in the #3 basket, thereby putting you in a one-down power position.

Ridic.

D.  The Project Theory

We help create the distancing jerk and then insert our self in his life to help improve him.  This should be called the manipulative/controlling/passive-aggressive theory, but that seems semantically cumbersome.

You play the coy game to such a degree that the guy, in his frustration, backs off or lets go of you.  Then, you reassert interest in him in such a way that it seems like HE was the jerk, and then you can ‘save’ him.  And who doesn’t have a teensy bit of a savior complex in ’em?  This appeals to the nurturing manner in women.  We want to take care of our children, make our houses look nice, tend to the people in our lives and leave everyone a little happier, a little more ‘perfect’ than we found them.  But this is the ultimate recipe for future heartbreak, because the means not only aren’t justified by the end (a “perfect” guy), but they don’t even achieve the end, because they’re so manipulative that you either end up with a pissed off guy who doesn’t want to be controlled by you anymore, or you turn him into an emasculated doormat without opinions or passions.  Swoon.

E.   The “It’s Evolutionary, my dear Watson” theory

This theory rests on the notion that we women have a primal need to be protected – a desire for shelter and safeguarding.  And in a more primitive culture, we would be able to observe men displaying acts of physical strength to prove their merit on this front.  But, in our society where intellect and attitude are the new big rock and sheer force that take down the dangerous beast in our path, we want to see a man ‘show off’ his aggressive prowess, and we’re drawn to it.  The only problem is that, in our brokenness, we crave this to such an extent that we end up valuing meanness, confusing it for passion and protection, rather than seeking out thoughtfulness and a capacity for problem-solving where a man is intelligently defensive of us, rather than verbally or emotionally beating us up to win our cavewoman approval.

So, what say you?
Remember…it’s unAmerican not to vote… (or unCanadian… or unMalawian… or whatever lovely country you hail from).

VOTE!

And there are no non-swing states here,…no electoral college… your vote actually counts.  Well…to feed my curiosity, that is.    🙂

Bad Boys… Whatcha gonna do?

I’m very sad to report that, as much as I wish it weren’t true, it turns out girls really do like the bad boys.  
Well, not all girls, but more than I’d like to believe.  
And not the John Travolta a la Grease sorta bad boy… but…well – let me elaborate.

After much discussion with my guy friends, it really does seem that this trend exists:   Women are perversely drawn to a man who makes himself unavailable, insulting or just generally jerk-ish.  You know all those self-help books and conferences that teach men to win women by using underhanded compliment/insults? Or using her own insecurities against her conversationally to give them the upper hand of emotional power?  Well, I suppose, as much as I hate it, that they’ve tapped into some nugget of truth.  And it pains me to say so.

One of my guy friends has been making this assertion for a while, but I kept telling him, “that’s just a small slice of the female population.  It’s not a universal truth.”  But, the more he shows me text strings from girls he’s dating, the more I’m resignedly convinced.  Sigh with me, will you?

Here’s the setup (and yes – this is a true story.  One of many I’ve heard in the last couple weeks).  Two people go on a date and have a great time.  She tells him she really likes him and wants to hang out again.  In the next couple of days, he asks her out for a Friday night (she told him she was “free ALL weekend”).  Suddenly she’s all booked up for the weekend…and the apathetic text saying so comes in 5-6 hours after his initial question.  So, he graciously sends a text back saying, “No worries.  I’m guessing maybe you’re not that interested after all.  Best of luck.” Five minutes later, miraculously her schedule has opened right up, and she’s asking him, “what are you up to tonight?” and trying to make plans.  She wasn’t available when he was pursuing her, but as soon as he withdrew his affections, she wanted him back.

But, I still wasn’t convinced that this was the epidemic I now believe it to be.

Then I hung out with several guys who are currently on the dating scene, and we got to talking about this topic and they ALL had MULTIPLE stories just like this one!  Crazy…
Here I thought it was just the occasional woman (you know the one – self-esteem problems, daddy issues, uses men to validate her own worth) who played the game this way, but as my friends were talking, story after story was coming out of the woodwork to suggest this is a broader trend than I’d hoped.

As soon as a guy makes himself seemingly unavailable, the woman is compelled to change her tune and want him more.  And men who seem distant or mysteriously unobtainable, are that much more desired.  Conversely, when  a guy is honest and tells a woman how much he likes her, he risks (in the words of another one of my friends) “being thought of as wimpy or a doormat.  And then she loses interest.”  Is this really what we’ve become?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, when the better part of the Western world was consumed with whether Bella would choose a werewolf with impulsivity issues or a bloodthirsty vampire…

But the naively romantic and optimistic inner Sarah wanted to believe that we were evolved enough to say how we really feel and own our thoughts and intentions genuinely.

And really, the biggest problem with women acting this way – is how it affects ME.
Because, after all – …it IS all about me.
When they behave this way, they solidify in mens’ minds that this is the way to play the game, and then they play it with women like ME, who just want an honest, genuine relationship!

By golly, the more I write, the angrier I get!

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll talk (I use the term “we” AWFULLY loosely, as I’ll be the only one pontificating…) about WHY women do this, and what we can do about it…for me. 
I mean…for women everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice Guys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some snippets from recent dates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men are Mysterious Too

Men are always talking about how they can’t figure women out.  Well, guess what – YOU’RE confusing too!  For every fickle or flakey or frustratingly obscure quality women bring to the dating table, men have an equal contribution.

So, in that light, I thought it might be time for another installment of suggestions/questions for you guys – some of which are relational, some of which are tips/musings on profiles – it’s a hodgepodge sorta day, but …here goes.

Make up your mind whether you want a confident woman or a doormat.

I swear, I can’t win on this one.  One minute you want a woman who’s independent, knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it…but then, the second we show a little assertiveness in the dating process (like – initiating texts or calls about meeting up), you get freaked out and back off.  Apparently, texting a guy, telling him you really like him and then asking him out for drinks is ‘pushy….?’  Then, when we back off and follow your lead, you complain that we’re not “into” you.  Aaargh!  Who’s hormonal NOW?

In the last 2 months, I’ve literally missed out on three potential relationships because of this.  The first was going great – several dates, lots of fun, but I think I pushed too hard (telling him that I really enjoyed his company, being enthusiastic about hanging out more)…that I scared him off.  So, I decided to soften my style a bit.  Then, I apparently offended (or bruised the egos of?) two guys last month.  I went out with each of them and enjoyed the time enough to want to see them again.  I said so, but then I followed their lead on texting/e-mailing, etc., rather than doing the pursuing myself.  They were both bothered by the fact that I didn’t initiate more conversation or discussion about wanting to hang out again…and consequently didn’t ask me out for another date!?

One of them even texted…and I quote, “…. (wait..why don’t I just SHOW you?)

When I landed in Houston, I texted him…we bantered.  Then, he texted here and there over the next couple days, and I responded/chatted every time – but never with any mention of hanging out.  Then he disappeared!  A couple weeks later he wrote me to say he wasn’t sure I was interested…    WHAT?  I told him that I WAS!  Still… nothing.

I can’t win.  I’d LIKE to think I’ve mastered that fine line of being charmingly honest with my reactions/thoughts after meeting a guy, but apparently there’s some even more nuanced yet unattainably perfect sweet spot of “how to be” in this arena to keep guys interested without pushing them away…

You’re an easy-going WHAT?

Do you KNOW how many profiles start with this sentence:
“Im a easy-going hard working.  I like to…”  ??
At least 1/3 of all the profiles I read have this in there at some point.  No lie.
OK – time for a teeny grammar lesson…humor me for a moment.  If you use an article (the, an, a), you have to have a subject in there SOMEWHERE.
You’re an easy-going what?  Man?  Business man?  Guy?  Moose?  Pack of gum?  Pick SOMEthing, dude!
Argh…this gets so frustrating.  Apparently I’m an easily-annoyed.
(See what I did there?)

Teasing

This could have a blog post all on its own.  Listen up, men – flirting/teasing is ADORABLE.  It’s a great way to interact with us and bring a playfulness to the relationship.  But, tread softly!  It’s so easy for you to bypass the flirtatious/playful arena and shoot straight into mean-ville – and you don’t even realize you’re doing it!  Thankfully for YOU, we will tell you – just watch for the cues.  If we say something like, (in a pitifully girlish voice) “Hey!  Don’t be mean!” or we back off from the trash-talking convo, or we give you an obligatory, but disingenuous laugh – you’ll know.  And then, you can soften.

I have, in no uncertain terms, told guys when they’ve crossed the line and they’re being hurtful… and they think I’m being cute.  No…..I’m trying to offer you a window where you can still fix it!

Why do men DO this?  Is there some elementary school playground flirting rules left inside them, that didn’t get put aside with their Stridex pads and headgear?  Oy…

Beware the LOL

Men…use this sparingly.  For starters, it’s so overused that it seems false.  It’s essentially the ‘boy who cried wolf’ of the texting world.  Really?  Are you REALLY Laughing Out Loud?   If you’re not, then say what you ARE doing/thinking (e.g. “that’s hilarious!”).  Don’t use a phrase because it’s an easy go-to… that comes across as lazy.

Next, it’s not particularly masculine.  I’m here to tell you that every time you type in ‘lol,’ you’re chipping away at the manly persona just a little… inching closer and closer to friend zone.  This also includes:  ROFL, LMAO, etc., etc.  You are not really rolling on the floor (and if you are,…as in – if you’re the type of person who, upon hearing my witty humor, rolls on the floor – I’m pretty sure I don’t want to date you anyway).  You’re not really laughing a body part off…  Just say what you mean – it’ll probably end up being more complimentary anyway.  (To both of us).

Overly Sexual vs. Asexual

Why can’t men seem to master the nuanced in-between?  It seems like there are only two kinds of men/dates – those who look at you like they’re imagining you covered in A-1 sauce on a bed of chicken wings, or those guys who are so darn friendly that you feel like you’re having drinks with your little brother.  (Actually, my little brother is more fun than most of these guys…)

The biggest problem with guys being on one of the two ends of this spectrum, is that it forces women to have to play the extremes as well.  If we’re with overly sexual guy, we have to put the guard up (which, in turn, makes us come across like a prude or not interested in physical connection/chemistry).  If we’re with asexual guy, (and we’re interested), we come across like a friggin’ sexual predator, just trying to get a little bit of interest going…

Where are the guys who know how to use appropriately flirtatious touch to communicate a physical attraction without mauling you, creeping you out or making you feel like an androgynous decoration?

No Information

One of my biggest pet peeves with online profiles are the ones where the guy puts zero information on there, but then says something like, “Anything you wanna know – just ask” or “Ask me anything, and I’ll answer.”

I’ll tell you what I want to know… ANYthing!?  The entire point of having an online profile is that you get to provide information about who you are and what you’re looking for, to prospective partners.  If all I cared about was seeing muscled men with no details about their personalities – I could go pick up men off of Harwin…

I can find more details about a wicker patio set on Craigslist than I can of hundreds of men online – men who, by way of reminder, have PAID to ‘advertise’ themselves here.  To prove that I’m not exaggerating – I literally took (and I clocked it) five minutes and went in search of profiles with little to no information in the “My Story” portion.  In five minutes, I found three:

I DO wanna know more.  I wanna know ANYthing.

Oh, I’ll send you a message, alright.  The message will be my silence.  Can you decipher that?

Really?  Why did he even bother to CREATE a profile?

I wish there were a search filter on these sites for “stupid.”

So there’s your random line-up of suggestions (read: complaints) about the not-so-fair sex.  I’d like to say it’ll be the last… but… as long as men are strange, I’ll be here to broadcast the list of failings…

(AAaaaaaand…she loses half of her audience).

Tell you what – in the interest of fairness, I will write a post later this month on the things that WOMEN do, which drive me crazy. So, stay tuned long enough and I’ll offend every possible people group.

Over and out, peeps.

Love for Hire

I was talking with a friend about the similarities between dating and interviewing people to hire.  As we were discussing the pros and cons of the interview process, he said, “I wish, instead of interviewing people, I could just have them complete one project.  If they do it well, great!  They’re hired.  If they muck it up, it’s a no go.”  (I’m paraphrasing.)

SO – of course, as you may have already suspected – the gears in my head started spinning about how to appropriate this idea for my dating needs.  Always the opportunist. 

Frankly, I’m considering implementing a new system where a guy who’s interested in me, rather than meeting me for drinks, can  complete a project in or around my home, and I’ll assess his relational worthiness based on his work.

Extreme Makeover dating.  I’m telling you…it’s the next big thing.  Watch out Bachelorette.  I’m coming full-guns-blazing with my crew of handimen and my committment to finding love.

Just think about it – there won’t be any of the contrived, inorganic awkwardness that comes with meeting someone you’ve just met online, when he’s installing cabinetry. 
Gone are the days of nervous first dates.  Welcome to the relationship probationary world of home repair.

You can tell so much about a man based on his handiwork. 

What kind of project does he choose? 

Put a hook in my wall to hang my kid’s painting…feed me for a day.  Custom design and install a Sarah Jessica Parker worthy closet…feed me for a lifetime.  (Am I losing you with the mixed metaphors?) 
Perhaps there could even be a points system based on the level of expertise and time required to complete a project. You know – satisfactory installation of a ceiling fan earns you two rounds of drinks this Friday.  Re-landscaping my entire yard…in the Houston heat – gets you Saturday night dinner, a show and a sizeable goodnight kiss.

Does he bring his own tools?  And what caliber are they? 

This tells me not only if he’s cheap, but whether he recognizes and values quality when he sees it!  It also speaks to preparedness and planning, which, as you all know, are sexy qualities for this single mama.

Does he do a quick and shoddy job or does the take time to do it right? 

What a perfect test for our future relationship.  Is he more interested in a “wham, bam, your towel bar will fall out of the wall after a week, thank you ma’am” kinda scenario?  Or is he going for the anchor-it-securely-to-the-stud sort of partnership?

Does he clean up his mess? 

I’m not JUST trying to escape the slob-like living conditions of bachelordome.  I’m also seeing… is he thoughtful and considerate enough to THINK to clean up his workspace?  That points to his caring nature, and ultimately to his facility with romance.

This kind of screening process will eliminate the guys who aren’t serious relationship material, AND get you that new garbage disposal you’ve had your eye on for months.

Play your cards right and you may even get some hardwood floors…
But that’s only for the seasoned dater.

And for those guys who aren’t “handy with tools” (stop…just stop), there are myriad other options for project work.

– Automotive repair.  (I honestly think I might marry someone who fixed my car…)
– Techy/nerdy help – (wireless routers, installing printer drivers, dropping wire – oh my…)
– Web/Computer/IT assistance – Swoon…
You get the idea.  Heck – he can go grocery shopping for me and be halfway to lifelong affection.

If a guy can prove himself in a well-done project, he’s earned his way to the next rung of dating.  Plus, I’ve weeded out the stroppy and half-hearted men who aren’t ready for the dedication and hard work required to make a relationship sing.

So, grab whatever tools you’ll need to make the cut, and I’LL be the stud-finder.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Bestseller

Several friends told me I “had” to read this book, “Become Your Own Matchmaker” by Patti Stanger.

I don’t know what it says about me that they think I need literary help in my dating endeavors, but…nonetheless I read it.  Turns out, (as you may have guessed), that about 50% of it was stuff I already knew and the other half I disagreed with.  (But then, are you surprised?)  Really makes me think I need to write a book.  Apparently you can be a bestselling author by writing a bunch of common sense relationship advice interspersed with your own unique ideas, even if they’re based in nothing other than your sheer personal opinion.  Here are some of the dating rules she made…that I’ve either already broken, fully plan on breaking in the future or just flat out think are dumb.

– Don’t ever initiate conversation online

At LEAST half of my dates have come from me initiating communication with a guy online.  Isn’t the whole point of taking the search to an online venue, that you’re embracing the deliciously postmodern era of dating where men and women can equally initiate contact?

I don’t think that by being the first person to say hi (or “wink” or “flirt” or whatever that site’s cheesy equivalent is), I’m giving up my position of femininity or lowering my worthiness of pursuit.  I am ALL FOR a man to pursue a woman.  I love this idea – always have.  But, if I find a profile of a guy online that piques my curiosity – should I do nothing, hoping that he’ll stumble across mine among the 1,000s out there and contact me?  All I want to do is put myself on his radar.

If you think about it – this is the virtual equivalent of going to a bar.  Just by putting yourself in the same space as a single guy, you’re putting yourself on his map.  Later she’ll talk about doing a “5 Second Flirt” when you’re out at a mixer/bar/restaurant and then waiting for the guy to ‘bite.’  Isn’t that all I’m doing by saying hi first online?  After that, he is free to chase.  Nay – invited to!  And most quality guys do.

– Don’t opt  for less than dinner for your first meeting.

I ABSOLUTELY disagree with this.  I will NOT go out to dinner with a guy I’ve never met.  I’ll do coffee or drinks or maybe lunch.  That’s it.  I think she’s exactly right about coffee being an audition.  But what’s the matter with that?  Isn’t that what dating is about?  I’m auditioning guys for the role of partner/boyfriend/lover/husband.  And they’re doing the same!  I am perfectly fine being auditioned.  And I don’t mind if another girl was there before me and another is coming afterward.  I know what I bring to the table and I’m confident.  If he chooses one of them over me, then I’ve lost nothing – we weren’t meant to be anyway since he was obviously looking for someone different for the “part.”  Auditioning is EXACTLY what I’m doing.  And I’m fine with that.

The idea of going out to dinner with someone who I haven’t yet interacted with in person sounds like the first circle of hell.  Being trapped for that long without any real map of who this guy is, other than the “on paper” persona he’s created online (which we ALL know is “always 100% true…”) is a huge gamble.

What if…(and the following have all happened to me) – he is much more overweight than he indicated?  What if he has really bad teeth?  What if he has awful breath?  What if he makes uber lame jokes and then laughs awkwardly at them?  What if he does that uncomfortably long staring thing?  What if he answers all your questions with short clipped one-word answers, thereby giving you nothing to work with to create engaging conversation?  What if he smells (and not in a good way)?

I know that I must sound harsh, but my time is SO limited.  Between 2 jobs, 2 children and church and volunteer work, my time to go on dates is precious little.  I do not want to waste 2+ hrs on someone who I know within the first few minutes is not going to be a good match.  I’d much rather be out 45 minutes and a cup of tea or a beer.  That’s an acceptable sacrifice for a flopped audition.

– 5 second flirt

This one cracks me up more than any of the others.  This is one of her infamous tips.  The 5-second flirt.  Sounds great, right?

Yeah…for Ted Bundy maybe.

Here’s the thing.  I tried this.  And I’m here to tell you that a true 5 seconds is a friggin’ eternity.  I think it’s actually longer than the lifespan of a mayfly…but don’t quote me.

Staring at someone for 5 entire seconds, without breaking the gaze, is essentially telling them you have plans for them that night that include them ending up in small pieces scattered in your rose garden.  If a guy held eye contact with me for 5 whole seconds, the creepiness factor would be so high he would’ve killed any chance of further flirting.  And when I say “killed…”

I suppose it’s one thing if you’re in a dark bar where there are tons of singles looking for a romantic connection.  But, when I imagine this happening in daylight, in line at the prepared foods section at Whole Foods, …it kinda makes me want to have a bag boy walk me to my car… just in case.

Before reading this book, I’d already adopted my own version of this idea, which is just to make eye contact with a cute guy and hold it just ever so slightly longer than I’m really comfortable with – just to let him know that it’s not an accident.  Then I smile and go back to what I was doing.  My method works.  Well…it WILL work… someday.

Hmmm…

– Don’t ever pay

“Masculine energy,” huh?  I thought it gave off the “I’m a secure non-gold-digging woman energy.”  Guess I was wrong.

I agree with the idea that the guy should pay.  Maybe it’s being blindly traditional, but I just think it sets a tone of respect and him acknowledging that you/I are worthy of being taken care of.  It’s sweet.

But – I always sincerely offer to help out when the bill comes.  I think this comes, in part, from talking with so many men whose number one complaint is about finding women online who are looking for a wealthy guy to help them out of debt and into a life of opulence.

I don’t want him to think I NEED him to pay.  So, by offering to pay and then (hopefully), him insisting to, it shows HIM that I’m able to and not a gold-digger, and it shows ME that he is a gentleman.  Win-win.

And I’m not even gonna TOUCH that hunter/gatherer bit… c’mon now, Patti…

– Don’t talk about funny dating stories

Really??  You’re gonna take that away from me?  That’s my JAM!

In this age of internet dating, there’s such a rich collection of conversation material, that I actually think this makes a great topic for a first date.  Look, you’re already both a little nervous…what’s the best cure for that?  Laughter!  And if you met online, chances are that you each have stories of either dates gone wrong or bizarre profiles you’ve run across, and sharing those does a few things:

–       it provides levity,

–       as you’re talking about your experiences, it gives your dates small clues/snippets as to the kind of person you are based on the kinds of things you like/don’t like from online dating

–       it breeds familiarity by leveling the playing field a bit.

I have talked about the online dating scene with all of my dates.  It’s an easy go-to topic that’s a shared interest and is entertaining…I think those conversational benefits outweigh the slight possibility that my dating life will intimidate him.  I mean…hello – we’re both obviously on the dating scene – that’s how we FOUND each other.

I could pick apart different parts of the book as well, but who has the time?  What with writing my OWN treatise…

I suppose all I need to do now is sit back and wait for some snotty blogger to pick IT apart.  It’s the circle of authorship.  I’m glad to be a part of it.

All this Aggravation ain’t Satisfactioning Me

Singles get a lot of unsolicited advice.  We’re like the pregnant women of relationship statuses.  You might as well come rub my belly and decry the virtues of the latest parenting/sleeping/feeding system like it’s gospel truth.  (Let me be clear – I’m speaking in metaphor.  Do not, for ANY reason, come rub my belly.  That would be indescribably awkward.)

By being unmarried or not in a dating relationship, I guess I must be communicating to the world that I need them to weigh in on WHY I’m single and HOW to go about living my life in light of my pitiful partner-less situation. So, for your further voyeuristic enjoyment, I’m going to share some of the most common suggestions I hear concerning my un-romantically-tethered state and why I think they’re stupid – and in some cases, even theologically incorrect.

1.     You need to be ok being single first, if you’re ever going to be happy with someone. 

Really?  Do you mean that I have to be happy with my singleness, or just generically content with my life?  I am happy with my life!
But I also know that something’s missing.  And I think a lot of people don’t think it’s ok to say so.

I think most people who say this really do believe that the first step toward a fulfilling life is not only coming to terms with (accepting) your singleness, but being just dandy with it.
I disagree.
And if my non-believing friends will oblige me for a moment, I’ll even make a doctrinal case for this.

I believe that I was created to love.  I think God designed all humans to yearn for and exist in relationship.  We’re built that way.  It is a good thing to want to be one with another… I dare say it’s even a microcosm/foretaste of worship/communion with God.  And yet…  We live in a broken, screwed up world that doesn’t work the way it should…and so many people don’t have the opportunity to be in a romantic relationship.  But, I think (and there are certainly exceptions) that’s a result of brokenness, not something we should be happy about.  (Theology rant over)

There’s a nuanced difference between being generally unhappy, and knowing that there’s a missing piece to my ultimate happiness.  I’m a happy person – I think those around me would agree.  But I am also searching for something that I think… rather, I know will bring me more complete pleasure.

Should a homeless person have to just learn to be content without having shelter?
Should a terminally sick person exult in their physical fragility?
I’m not wallowing in some kind of depressing resignation, but I will be the first to say that I know I’m at my best when I have the opportunity to love and be loved by someone.

So, no – I don’t need to go journal the hours away on how I’m “good enough, smart enough and pretty enough withOUT a man.”
I don’t need your cheesy inspirational posters on my worth and identity as a single woman.
I don’t need you to condescendingly put your hands on my shoulders, tilt your head, eyes dripping with self-righteousness and pity, and tell me I’m perfect just the way I am.  Gag.
I’m good.  And I’ll be even better with a hunky guy at my side.

2.     You need to know yourself if anyone’s ever going to find you attractive/love you.

Done.  Next?

Look, I’m in my 30s.  I have a background in, and fascination with relationships and counseling – to the tune of a Masters degree and, as it turns out – a blog.  I was married for almost a decade.  I am (almost to a fault sometimes) a self-aware and self-reflective person.  I know myself!  I know my flaws and my struggles.  I know my strengths.  I know my areas of woundedness and I know my personal preferences and limits with potential partners.  You can rest assured that my not having found “the one” is, by no means, a product of me not knowing me.  I’ve got this.

I think what people mean when they say this, is that, if you’re single THIS late in the game, you must NOT know who you are or what you want.
Isn’t it possible that there are still a few of us out there who are single AND emotionally intelligent?  Geez!  My singleness is not proof of me being personally unaware.

3.     You shouldn’t be so picky.

Oh, this is one of my favorites.  If “favorites” means I hate it almost as much as I hate “I could care less.”  *Shudder*

DON’T be picky, you say?
Really?
So… just settle?
Nice.  I think, the very fact that I AM still single is evidence that I would rather have no one than have the wrong one.

You wouldn’t tell a 20-year old single girl not to be too picky.  You’d tell her to take her time; to be circumspect and find someone who was everything she wanted.  So, why don’t I get the same luxury?  Am I that far into pathetic-land that I should start aiming for 5’s and 6’s now?  I’m assuming there’s a direct correlation between age and caliber of attainable men.  Is there some kind of a graph I can refer to, to know just how low in the pool I need to grab from?  Once I turn 40, I suppose I should just be satisfied with a guy who throws me a “hey babe!” between Coors Light belches…
Man – I’ve got a LOT of work to do between now and October (my birthday…another year older shaves off another level of quality character I’m allowed to search for and expect in a partner, it seems)

Additionally – I think the general populous must think that single people are only looking for perfect partners.  Come on.  I’m an intelligent woman.  I know that there is no such thing.  But there IS someone who will be a perfect fit for me, and I’m holding out for that guy.  Well… at LEAST ’til October.

4.     Read XYZ book. 

Ok, I acknowledge that there are always new things to glean from good books, but I have had at least a dozen recommendations for self-help dating articles or books.  And those that I’ve read have all said the SAME things… know who you are, know how/where to look, don’t be a goober on your first date(s), and be ok with imperfection.  Wow.  I think I just wrote a best-seller.

(p.s.  Stay tuned for a post where I react to some of the tenets of “Become Your Own Matchmaker.”)

5.     Take a break from dating.  When people stop looking for things is when they inevitably find them.

Really?  Is that how it works?  Have you personally crunched the numbers on that?
I know that we hear stories all the time about people who, after they stop actively searching/trying for something, have it fall right in their laps.
But I’d contend that for each of those inspiring sagas, there are at least 100 cases where people found what they were looking for… by looking for it!!

The implication here is that I am obsessed with finding the perfect guy.  Rest easy, friends.  I don’t have an unhealthy fixation with dating.  I enjoy it!  I like searching for love.  I believe I still have a great love story ahead of me and I’m going to pursue that to the best of my abilities – not settling, not being desperate or bitter in the meantime – just actively and optimistically exploring.

There are so many others – but who has the time to respond to all of them?:  “Date lots of men,” “Go on longer dates,” “Go on shorter dates,” “Only go on lunch/coffee dates,” “Look for men at church,” “Don’t look for men online,” “Use XYZ site,” “Take up XYZ hobby to meet guys,” “Grow out your bangs,”… on and on the advice continues.  It’s exhausting…

If all the same people who were proffering up these nuggets of wisdom on singleness would put that energy toward thinking of a friend/acquaintance/co-worker to set me up with – I’d be a lot more appreciative.  A little less talk, a lot more action, friends.

Mile High Dating Club?

An airplane flight contains within it all the worst parts of dating/relationships without ANY of the perks.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been in the following situations – and no, these weren’t dates.  With the luck I’ve been having lately, I can see how they’d sound awfully similar, but…no.  Had they been, at the very least I could’ve escaped with my Early Dismissal Program.  But as it was, I was stuck – enduring all the most disadvantageous pieces of monogamy with none of the sweet reward.

I sat next to one gentleman who apparently didn’t “believe” in deodorant and kept insisting on reaching up and over me to adjust his air vent.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, his breath smelled like a series of dry heaves, viciously invading my olfactory space.  Yummy.

Then, there was the guy who “needed something from his pocket,” and as he fished around in a pair of pants inexplicably squeezed onto his portly shape, his fingers uncomfortably caressed and harassed my hip and thigh.  Nice.

On the next flight was a girl who played her music annoyingly loudly, but her angry facial expressions, front neck tattoo and multiple facial piercings made me nervous to confront her about it.  And I ended my aviation adventure with the man next to me snoring in my ear.  Now, I’m not up on the etiquette in this situation, but if we were in a relationship, you can bet your sweet bippy I’d be (lovingly, of course) elbowing him in the ribs to roll over and hush.

When you fly, you’re forced into close quarters with all kinds of miserable humanity, and without so much as a possibility of a snuggle or a kiss.  I’ve sat closer, smelled more Axe cologne and Walgreens hair gel, felt more skin-to-skin contact and heard more heavy breathing in my latest flying mates than I have in all of my most recent dates.  So…why not parlay this inevitably awkward situation into an opportunity?  Here’s what I’d like to see happen:

Speed Dating flights.

Yup.  If I have to suffer the travails of proximity to these lower life forms, then I say we turn it on its head and make it work FOR me.  And other singles.  But, mostly me.

It’s a perfect set-up.  You already have the environment to cultivate relationship building and getting to know each other.  All that would need to happen is someone to come in and organize the existing chaos.  I’m happy to be that girl.  So, be sure your seat backs are in their upright position and any pessimism is stowed away…  Here’s how it’ll work:

You’d pay a small extra fee to be put on a Speed Dating Flight.  Of course, flights would be segregated by ages – 20-somethings, 30-somethings and so on.  We’ll use planes with the two seats on either side of the aisle layout and put the women in the window seats.  Men will sit on the aisle and every 5 minutes, your friendly airline host will come over the loud speaker and instruct the men to move.  Every man will move back ONE row and sit in the seat behind where he just was.  And the two guys in the back will come to the front row.

This is everything you want in speed dating AND air travel.  Think about it:

  1. No crying babies or annoying preteens.
  2. No having to guess if that cute guy you’ve been tracking stalking ’noticing’ since gate E5 is, in fact, on the market or not.  So WHAT if he got a whole wheat bagel and a yogurt/fruit parfait at “Taste of Atlanta,” he’s sporting a dreamy MacPro in a weathered leather satchel, and you definitely heard hand-washing after he used the restroom…he COULD still be taken.
  3. There’s already a bartender/server coming around bringing you drinks and snacks.  It may not be wine flights from Crü, but a CranApple/Diet Sprite combo, served in a tiny cup filled mostly with ice, can really help take the edge off.
  4. You get to devote time to dating that doesn’t take away from your life.  You’re multi-tasking with a necessary domestic trip, so you have nothing to lose.  If none of the guys work out, you’ve at least passed the time in an entertaining way, en route to PowerPoint presentations and stale Chai lattes.
  5. You already have a seat-back tray table to use for jotting down notes.
  6. You have built in conversational material as you ask each other about where you’re flying and why.  If that runs stale in the first minute, you’ve got in-flight Sudoku puzzles and SkyMall to peruse together.  You can even feel free to use the Crossword at the back of the airline magazine to determine his intelligence level.  “No, I’m sorry ‘Tate,’ but 3-down’s four-letter “therefore” is not “Eggo.”  Thanks for stopping by.
  7. If you ARE seated next to a loser, don’t despair!  He’s moving in less than 5 minutes!

Ultimately, we’re just killing two birds with one mechanical bird.  You’ve got to fly to Newark for business ANYWAY… so why not rack up a few dates and digits as you soar to your destination?

And you know the airlines would have a heyday with this idea.  Maybe they’ll even offer incentive programs where, for every name/number you request, you earn valuable frequent flyer reward points!  I’m just spitballing here, but this idea has got some teeth.  I can hear the flight attendants now…(and please – for the love of all that is literarily snarky – please read the following in a subtle, yet noticeably nasal and personally detached internal voice):

“Ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome aboard flight 5683, with service to engaging banter, and continued service to true love.  Be certain you have stowed all sensitive topics under the seat in front of you.  Heavier conversations about exes and lists of dealbreakers should be placed in the overhead bin, and please do not delve into them as emotions may shift in flight.  All narcissistic, self-absorbed discussion should now be turned off as it may interfere with your partner’s internal relational navigation systems.

If you are seated in a speed-dating seat, you must be able to demonstrate a modicum of cleverness and charm, without causing harm to yourself or others.  Men acting like teenage boys may not sit in a dating seat.  If you are seated in a dating seat and do not meet these requirements, please notify a flight attendant at this time.

Cellular phones and other approved electronic devices may only be used to settle playful bets or show photos of your adorable dog/cat/child/ferret/prize-winning okra.  Smoking is not allowed on any flight or in any situation where you think you MAY give/receive a smooch.

To fasten your image in your current partner’s mind, place the most witty banter firmly into her memory, using interesting stories and clever jokes/entendres.  To release, simply use crude boy humor.  For your safety, we require that you not use words like “booyah” or “boobies.” Federal regulations require you to never discuss body part sizes or try out  cheesy come-on lines.

We appreciate your business.  We know you have options for your airline dating needs, so we thank you for choosing Affection Airlines.”