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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.”


Search for the Perfect Mannequin

Have you noticed how, when you’re IN a relationship, there seems to be a steady parade of eligible and interested single people nipping at your heels – a veritable school of piranhas surrounding you in your sea of commitment.  And then, the moment you become single again, you find yourself in a dried up pond where the only fish still flapping with life are the bottom feeders or those creepy all tooth and lights and no soul kind?  Where did the swarms of eager bachelors go?  Now that you’re free to explore your deep-sea options, the proverbial well is dry.  What gives?

My friend (and inspiration for this post) Glenda suggests it has something to do with the “On Display” effect.  Similar to the Butterfly effect, but not nearly so deterministic… actually it’s not the same at all.

  When the people around you can see you as you are in a relationship, they see the whole put-together package.  They see “relationship you.”  And they like what they see.  They see the way you dote on your man (or girl, as the sitch calls for).  They see the way you listen, care for him, make him laugh, do sweet things for him, nurse him when he’s sick, throw parties for him on special occasions, bring out the best in each of you and generally make him happy.  They also see that light of love in you that only shines when you’re “on display.”  And they want that.

She likened it to the way we like to buy an outfit as it’s displayed on a store mannequin.  You know how this goes – you walk past the window and see that they already have the pencil skirt and Bohemian-chic top impeccably paired with a whimsical summer scarf and the perfect chunky, but not too chunky accessories.  “That’s the ‘look’ I want!” you think to yourself, and lazily go buy all the components.  Same goes for partner hunting – you see someone in their relationship ‘element’ being all perfectly Bohemian-chic and you want ‘em.  You want THAT version.  But the reality is that in the real world, you don’t get to pick out the mannequin’s ensemble.  You have to put together your own. 

In some sense, if it weren’t for the fact that there is a necessary grieving and healing process we have to endure after a break-up (such a bummer that we can’t just skip that step…*exasperated sigh…), we could get back on the market while the “on display” energy is still fresh.  You know – word hasn’t spread yet that you’re pathetic and alone and the world of available men/women still sees you as “store window ready.”  Wouldn’t that be nice?  You could bag an even better shopper while you still have the vestiges of relationship success clinging to your pencil skirt.  But, alas, when we try to do that, we unfortunately bypass an essential step in our own journey…blah blah…something …something…personal growth.

 I’m gonna be perfectly honest here – I make a cracking good girlfriend.  You can ask my ex-boyfriends and they’d tell you.  In fact, I’m contemplating a new dating system wherein I have my current crush contacted by former lovers to hear their personal testimonials of my relationship excellence.  I mean, you wouldn’t hire a new employee without getting sufficient positive references, am I right?  The same goes here.  In fact, I dare say it would INCREASE my chances with someone I have my eye on – because my past boyfriends can speak to how I am when I’m off the market, and ‘on display.’ 

You all know this is true.  When you’re on those first few dates with someone new, no matter how much you try to be your true authentic self, no matter HOW you slice it, you’re in full-on illusion mode.  You’re trying to present the best version of yourself, which – while admirable – often gets in the way of that person seeing the version of you he would know if he were 6-months in.  You can’t be as soft or as vulnerable or as trusting on date #2 as you can on date #100.  You also can’t feel that same ease you’ll feel later on, which gets in the way of being yourself.  It’s a vicious loop.  Perhaps this is why we so often involve alcohol – it “lets” us be more of our real selves… In Vino Veritas, and all that.  Be charming!  Be adorable!  Be attractive!  Be yourself?  Yes!  But, not all the way…?  This is where those past boyfriend endorsements can really come in handy. 

Wouldn’t it be awesome if an hour into a date with a guy you really think you could have an amazing connection with, you could have some kind of mid-date commercial?  The record audibly scratches, your date is paused and in walks your ex with some “exciting news about the girl you’re with!”  I’m fine funding these commercial interruptions with blatant product placement – whatever it takes to get the guy, I say.  They can tell the new prospect – “dude, she’s a catch.  Really.  She’ll take care of you when you’re sick, she makes a mean Southwest soup, she’s an amazing mom, she sings in the shower when she thinks you’re not in the house, for all her bluster about being a sleep princess – she really does want someone to cuddle with while she falls asleep, she makes real sacrifices for the people she loves, she’ll keep you laughing, she works hard at the relationship, she gives creative and thoughtful gifts, she’s loyal, she’ll fight for you, and she’s a dang good kisser.”  Now, back to your regular programming.

That’s really the only way to convey your ‘on-display’ gestalt to the next generation of love candidates. 

But until I get my ghosts of boyfriends past commercial series into syndication, I guess I’ll have to rely on finding a guy who is creative enough to walk right past the ready-to-wear mannequin and go pick out his own outfit.  Hopefully it won’t involve a pencil skirt.


7 Highly Ineffective Habits of Manly People

From the sea of singledome, if you listen closely, you can hear the quiet cries of women everywhere – often too individually timid to talk to men about some of the most infuriating behaviors we encounter in dating – often too scared to confront these issues for fear that the man will run – often too insecure in our own identities to claim the love and care we deserve.  But, if the goal of this search for love is to find someone who will truly know you and then genuinely love you, then shouldn’t we be completely authentic with ourselves and our partners?

First, I’d like to go on record as fully acknowledging that for every annoying or hurtful behavior men demonstrate, women have something equally exasperating that we bring to the table.  And hear me on this – for MOST of these issues, it truly is a blind spot.  It’s UNintentional.  None of us (well, except for the sociopaths and meanies out there, but I’m assuming (naively?) the majority of my readership are normal and kind people who really want to live lives that bring happiness to themselves and those around them) – none of us wants to hurt other people.  These are areas that, for some reason – whether because of our own past hurt/damage, or due to our unwillingness to dig inward and conduct some necessary self-reflection – have not yet been changed/honed/smoothed out – and are hurting the people around us.  So – today’s installment is about men, but – if any of my male readers want to weigh in on women’s blind spots – feel free to post comments or contact me!  Ok – here we go…

The Commitment Fake-Out:

Men are wont to throw around words and phrases that foreshadow a commitment they’re not actually prepared to offer.  I don’t know if it’s the warm fuzzies they feel ‘in the moment,’ or if they just really don’t realize they’re doing it… but they need to know this:  women take that stuff to heart.  We internalize those words and ‘bank’ on them.  Even when we know that men say these things without meaning them, and that we ought NOT to do that, we can’t help it – it’s like a built-in security mechanism.  Our love-thirsty hearts hear something that sounds future-thinking and we let hope bubble up that the guy sees a real future with us.  Sometimes these are subtle and sometimes men must just not think at all when throwing around such weighty words…

Here are a few examples.  These are phrases that a man might toss out during conversation in the initial courtship phase (think – dates 1 through 7):

“Oh, I can’t wait for my mom to meet you – she’s gonna love you!”
      translation:  I’m significant enough to him to meet his family.

“Oh my gosh, when we visit [fill-in-the-blank-city/country], you’ll have to try the…”
     translation:  He likes me enough to want to travel with me.

“Your [fill-in-the-blank household appliance or electronics] stinks.  Don’t worry, I have a great one we’ll end up using.”
translation:  We’re going to end up living together (married) one day – so I don’t need to buy a new wifi router/flux capacitor/whatever.

“I love you.”
translation:  He loves me.  (weird, right?)

And you WONDER why women seem so “marriage crazy?”  It’s because men go around talking as if they’re going to marry you and then act shocked when you look forward to settling down with them!?

Men – don’t say more than you actually think/feel.  We’d much rather take things at a slower pace and forego a little of the fireworks/drama if we know that the messages we’re receiving from you are authentic.  If you really DO see a future with us, then by all means, say so!  That’s exciting to hear – duh.  But, if you’re on the fence, don’t let a flirty momentary spike betray your true intentions toward us.  We can handle a slower clip.  We can’t handle falseness.

Inconsistency:

Any woman reading this already knows what I’m going to say.  This is one of the classic blunders.  The most famous of which is never get into a land war in Asia.  But only slightly less well-known is this: never go against a woman when mixed messages are on the line!  We may hate this more than any other thing…I’m not ready to fully commit to that statement just yet… I mean, there are spiders, bad breath, crooked gig lines and improper uses of the words you’re and your… but still – this MAY trump all of those.

This is that awkward and confusing jump from a certain level of communication or affection or generally being “into you” that waxes and wanes without explanation.  And we’re left to our own internal devices to try to decipher the behavior.

One minute you’re blowin’ up our phone with flirty texts, the next – we go for days without hearing from you.  One minute we’re getting “good morning” phone calls, then you fall off the map.  One minute we’re hanging out at a steady rate (say, twice a week?) and then it inexplicably dies down.  And the strangest part is, often it’ll pick back up without explanation.  And we’re left dumbfounded.  What gives?  Are men this fickle?  Are they waffling back and forth between being “into us” and then not?  I really don’t know.

But here’s what you need to know, men.  When you set a certain pattern of communication into motion, we use that to gauge the “tone” of the relationship.  So, when you suddenly change it, we’re left to wonder what the HECK you’re thinking about us!  And usually, we go to a pretty pessimistic place.  In man speak, I think it goes something like this… don’t cruise along in 5th gear and suddenly shift to neutral and expect us not to emotionally go flying through the window.
(How’d I do on my automotive metaphor?  I’m ‘gearing’ up to be able to handle a sports metaphor…but we’re still a long way off…)

Teasing:

This one is such a FINE line.  Most well-adjusted women dig a healthy amount of jabs/trash-talk/teasing – IF it’s done in a friendly and flirtatious way.  In fact, it can spice up the relational banter considerably.  But it is SO easy for men to take it to a mean place without even realizing it.  One minute they’re talking smack about being a better ping-pong opponent (though…to be fair, no man can actually say that about me – I’m basically a ping-pong MASTER), and the next, they’re taking it to a more personal level where teasing becomes mocking/belittling.  I just had a friend ask my advice on this issue this morning.  Her guy will unwittingly join in with a mutual friend and tease her to the point of bullying.  He thinks he’s being funny, but she feels ganged up on.

Men, the best way to diffuse this particular blind spot is to pay attention to her non-verbal cues.  If the laughter becomes less authentic sounding, if her face falls, if she avoids eye contact, if she grows quiet – she’s not into it anymore.

Here’s the great news on this one.  There is a FOOLPROOF solution, men.
You CANNOT lose if you do this.  Ahem…here goes… (I still can’t believe I’m just dishing these pearls out for free…):
If you even think you MAY have crossed this line… (now this gets very intricate and tricky, so try to keep up) – ask.
Ask her.  Yup – that simple.  And you’ll come out on top, regardless.
Soften your demeanor (always a plus in just about every encounter with a woman) and approach her kindly with something like this:  “Oh, sweetie…did I go too far?”  or  “Oh – I’m sorry – did I upset you with my teasing?”
Boom.
Done.
You have just reset the entire system here.  Because of your perceptive skillz – she’s now back to being enamored with you.

This can only go one of two ways.  She’ll either admit that it DID go too far, but she’ll be touched by your sensitivity and kindness.
Or she’ll assure you that you didn’t actually take it too far – that she was totally into it and having fun – but she’ll still be touched that you checked in, just in case.  It’s win-win, guys!

Bragging:

Men have a tendency to want to to show off things that most women don’t care about as much as you all think we do!  Now, some women care more than others, so I may be a bit of an outlier here… but I honestly do not care what kind of car you have.  I care if it’s relatively clean (though, that’s entirely hypocritical, because my car is a disaster – it’s basically an extension of my purse… peppered with various dried-up markers, empty water bottles and a few rogue shriveled-up sweet potato fries in the mix there…), I care if it has a/c (c’mon – this is Houston, peeps – if there’s sweat dripping down my back, I don’t care HOW cute you are…love isn’t in the air), I care if there’s a working radio – I mean, how else are we supposed to have a rousing go at the radio game?  But other than that, I couldn’t care less.  And – to make matters worse, I pobably won’t even NOTICE if it’s something fancy.  After a ride in your car, I’ll know what color it is and if it’s comfy.  That’s about it it.  You know when someone calls themself a “car person?”  Well I’m the opposite of that.  I’m a person person.  (Hmm…that doesn’t sound very exciting.  I’m definitely gonna have to work on that title…)

So, I don’t need you to go on and on about your car, or your watch, or your expensive trip to Italy (unless we’re going to talk about the delicious FOOD you ate when you were there – that’s fair game), or any other topic that’s solely intended to impress me based on fiscal success.  If you’ve done well for yourself, it’ll show in time – let it come across organically.  Don’t force that idea on me… it makes you look insecure or like you have your priorities outta whack.

Another way this issue can surface is in simply talking TOO much about yourself.  And this includes false humility too.  Talking too much about how you’re “not that good at ____” or about how humble you are – counts.  Ugh.

Begging:

This is another area where there’s a fine line.  It would be overly simplistic of me to say that when a woman says no to something (and I am talking about a broad range of things here, not just physical stuff), that she definitively means no.  We’re all experienced enough in the nuanced dance of man/woman relationships to know that often women say no, but hope to be chased a little.  Or even when we don’t hope to be chased, if we happen to find ourselves on the receiving end of a hot pursuit, it’s exciting.  If I turn someone down (say, for a date), and he doesn’t give up – it can really go either way, depending on his approach.  It’s ALL in your style, guys.  Having a “I see something worth fighting for” attitude can be mighty sexy.  Desperately begging for us to give you another chance is like seeing a wounded animal on the side of the road and wanting to see it put out of its misery.

The two tips I can give you on this – and again, this is a tricky road, I’ll be the first to admit – are:

1.  Read the room.  Really.  (OK, not ‘literally’ …you can’t read a room, that’s just silly).  But you CAN decode the verbal AND non-verbal cues here.  If you’ve asked for something (anything from “let’s grab a drink!?” to “one more kiss?” and more), and she says no – HOW did she say it?  Was it coy?  Was it uncertain?  Was it playful?  Or did she look like she’d rather be stabbed in the eye?  I know it’s a gray area, but really think here – Playful?  Or eye-stabbing?  They are SO similar…

2.  If you DO decide to press the issue, and I cannot stress this enough – do it in a winsome way.  No, not a “whinesome” way…definitely don’t whine.  Don’t succumb to baby talk (I’m not making this up).  Don’t poke your bottom lip out.  Please don’t be that guy.  Be a man.  Be a man who she could say no to, but just can’t say no to.  You can offer up (in a charming and flirty manner) compelling reasons why she should go out with you, or stay out a little longer, or whatever it is that’s on the table.  How do you do this without coming off desperate or smarmy?  Be clear on the fact that you CAN accept defeat, that she CAN stick to her “no” guns, but that you have something to offer that she can’t resist.  Don’t be the guy who says over and over, “please? C’mon!!?!”  (and…I feel like a broken record here, but this is all coming from either personal experience or from stories close friends have related to me).  Be the guy who wins her over by mentally seducing her with your charm, wit and adorable persistence.  Begging is not sexy.  Confidence IS.

Not Complimenting:

What is it with men on the dating scene these days…it’s like pulling teeth to get a sincere compliment.  I’m not suggesting that compliments should only go one way.  No – I’m the queen of telling you what I like.  If you’re handsome, you’re gonna know it.  If you’re funny, or smart, or a great dresser, or you can recite the quadratic formula – you’re gonna be praised, don’t worry.  But – we girls put a lot of thought into how we look, what we say, heck – the WAY we sit on a date even… so, throw us a bone every now and then.  If you like something, say so.  And here’s why.  It’s not because we need our ego stroked.  It’s because it shows a vulnerability and softness for someone to take a one-down approach and acknowledge a good quality.  An insecure man doesn’t compliment.  But a confident man can step outside of himself to recognize a characteristic that’s admirable or likeable or attractive and then has the boldness to call it what it is.

Not Planning

No matter how liberated we are, women want a man who will take charge and initiate spending time with us.  But, so often, in this lazy, postmodern dating world, men just sit back and wait for women to chase after them.  And, hey – I’m a chaser.  I’m not afraid to go after something I see as potentially valuable.  But, oh, man – to be pursued… and well?  MMmmmm…

Whether you are a planner by nature, or you’re a take-life-as-it-comes kinda guy – you can impress and ultimately show love/care for a woman by having the forethought to make plans with her.  Trust me on this.  Every woman loves the spontaneous stuff too.  But, give us a guy who takes the time to text/call/e-mail to ask us out – more than 24 hrs. in advance, and we may very well swoon right into a full-on fainting spell.  I’ve said before that the root of real romance is effort and thoughtfulness.  Planning requires both of those… hence, planning is romantic.  I know, I know…in the movies, the romance always happens on the fly.  And I don’t want to dismiss that kind either.  If a guy I was seeing just showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and a movie – I would LOVE it.  (well, as long as he was ok with the possibility of finding me with a green mask on my face in my pjs mid-self-pedicure… hey – that’s what you risk when you just show up.  But if you can deal, so can I).  We LOVE the spontaneous gestures.  Love.  But we also really love being thought of.  And it lets us know that in the future, you’ll be the kind of guy who will THINK about us even when we’re not right there.  Oh, that makes my heart feel smooshy just thinking about it.  Finding a guy who will think about you during his day, and then take the time to make a plan with you – because he’s so excited to see you – that’s relationship butter.

And let’s not kid ourselves, …there are countless other things that people do to impede relational growth.  I’m not trying to fix the whole world in one post.  But these are the ones I hear  or experience most often.  The very fact that there are successful dating relationships happening out there is a testimony to the fact that
a.  there ARE still some good guys left (there ARE some good guys left, there ARE some good guys left, there ARE…  ), and
b.  people (women included) are forgiving.
That oughtta keep hope alive for a while… right?

Here’s hoping.


Oh, honestly…

How many times have you heard someone say (or have you thought to yourself), “I wish I could just get in the HEAD of…”
Men talk all the time about how women can’t be ‘figured out,’ and women are constantly wondering why men talk/act the way they do.

Wouldn’t the world of dating and relationships be enormously aided if we could all actually be HONEST?  I’m really only asking for grown-ups to DO what we’re taught as children – tell the TRUTH!

But I do mean more than simply, “don’t lie.”
I’m talking about a new, radical, raw version of honesty.
One where people actually say what they’re thinking and feeling, even INITIATE doing so, especially as it relates to significant others and potential significant others.

I’d like to propose that the key to figuring out and working on relationships isn’t “communication” or “compromise,” (don’t freak out if you think those are cornerstones of great partnerships – I do too.  I just think they’re steps 2 and beyond.  Stick with me), but rather – is what you honestly BELIEVE to be true about yourself and about your partner.  It’s your core beliefs that affect the success or failure of a relationship.  Now beliefs aren’t necessarily truth.  And, beliefs are ever-changing, as people get more information.  Also – the more self-aware and reflective a person is, the more those beliefs can be fluid and dynamic as the relationship moves and changes.  But, if our core beliefs about another person shape our reaction to and relationship with that person, then shouldn’t we have the most accurate and best information to base those beliefs on?

Thusly (I love that word), if I can know what a guy is really thinking about me, I can more precisely form my beliefs about who he is and if he’s the kind of man I want.  The same is true in reverse.  I try to give the most honest picture of who I am – (even sometimes to the unfortunate point of coming across pushy or overbearing) – so that a guy will KNOW me.  If he knows the real me, he can decide what he believes about me and about us.

So – radical honesty.  It might not always be initially comfortable or feel safe, but I maintain that it’s good.  And in the end, I think it brings a lot of happiness and peace. (Some of the guys I’ve interacted with online might not agree…but…)

I’ve started doing this sometimes when I tell someone we’re not a good match.  If he presses and ASKS, I’ll tell him exactly WHY I don’t want to date him again.  Now, this gets tricky, because some information is helpful – like asking a potential employer, after an interview and then getting turned down from the job, why you didn’t get the position.  Feedback helps you fix things for the next time, right?  But sometimes it’s things the person can’t change (too short, not physically attractive to me, not smart enough, etc.)…and I’m still trying to figure out what to do when THOSE are the reasons why a relationship won’t work.  Guys, feel free to chime in here – do you WANT to know why it’s a ‘no?’  At all costs?

For MY part, I do.  Even if it’s unchangeable.  Even if it will temporarily hurt – because it’s information about myself, but ALSO it’s information about the guy I presumably like.  So often, the reasons why someone would choose NOT to date me – HE thinks will hurt my feelings, but in actuality, it will help me make the break from him more easily.

An example – a guy who thinks I’m “too religious” (which is kinda a funny way to put that, considering how much I know I struggle/wrestle with my faith and life) because I go to church every weekend and play/sing on the worship team from time to time.  (Ok, ok,…I may also be a teensy bit of a theology nerd…but this doesn’t mean I need to be with someone else who is).  He thinks he’s sparing my feelings by not telling me this is what he didn’t like, but in the end, I’d much rather know that HE is someone who bristles at having a real faith-walk.  That’s GREAT information for me – I can cut my losses, and move on to the next guy with ease, knowing this one wasn’t right for me anyway.  That’s SO much more preferable to wondering if it was a thousand other possibilities…

But it’s more than just being honest with someone about why you wouldn’t go on another date.  It’s also about sharing with someone else your thoughts AS you process how you feel about him/her.  Wouldn’t the dating world be drastically better if we knew what the other person truly thought of us as we explored the connection?

The following are true life scenarios from the experiences of close girlfriends.  Imagine how each of these would be bettered by simply having access to the thoughts of the other person:

1.  “Penny” flirts with a guy at a coffeeshop and gives him her number.  A week or so later they meet up for coffee and it turns into an all-day coffee, wine, amazing conversation, kissing and incredible connection all day and into the evening.  She’s really excited about having met someone she connected with so obviously, but as the next three weeks go by, he calls her almost every day – keeping up with her life, job, etc., but never asks her to hang out again.  Such a mystery.  If he’d just wanted to have the one interaction, he wouldn’t keep calling.  If he wanted a relationship, he would’ve initiated getting together, right?  How much angst could he save Penny by just saying, “Here’s what’s going on…” and telling her.  Instead, she’s left guessing all the possible reasons for his actions (or lack thereof) and remaining in a state of confusion and hurt.

2.  “Stella” has gone out several times with an amazing guy who genuinely seems to like her, but never initiates get-togethers, and seems to keep some emotional distance by not letting her in on his feelings about her.  He’s still dating multiple people, which is ok with Stella, if she knew where she stood, but all she has to go on is great dates where everything seems to go just right – lots of laughing, similar views, shared interests and good smoochin’ – and no other information.  So, this leaves her hesitant to let herself feel those butterflies/smooshy feelings, lest she find out she’s just kinda being played.  Again – how nice would it be for her to have a glimpse into his thinking?  Maybe he loves her personality, but doesn’t find her physically attractive?  Maybe he’s just not in a season of life where he wants to settle down with one person?  Any of this would be information – which is what all of us women want!

3.  Similar to Penny, “Nina” has gone out with a guy where the chemistry was great (from her perspective), they had awesome conversation, etc., etc. (this story is getting kinda familiar now, huh?), and since then, all she’s gotten is lots of texts, none of which are to make plans in the future.  They’re always things like:  “I’m out with some friends at X bar – come join us!” but never anything like “I’d love to hang out again – what are you doing Friday?”  Ugh… (I’m only ugh-ing in solidarity.  We all know if this was me, I’d just ASK the guy what was up – because that’s what I do.  I stifle men with my honestly curious approach.)

Now – a GOOD example of another friend, Cortney – who turned her guy down for some lovin’ one night because she was kinda grossed out that he came to bed without brushing his teeth.  The next day, he had the guts to ask what the disconnect was the night before.  And then she had the guts to just come clean and answer him honestly, “Well, if you really want to know – I thought it was gross that you didn’t brush your teeth before getting into bed.”  The next time they went out on a date, he put a fresh toothbrush on the table, laughed, and said something about how that won’t ever be a problem again.  He had a great sense of humor about it and – problem solved!

Now, I know that’s a silly example.  It’s much easier to tell your partner that they need to brush their teeth, than it is to talk about some other things.  I think the 2 problems standing in our way of NOT being honest are:

1.  Not wanting to hurt feelings.  But, as I already said, in most cases (of course there are exceptions), many people (me included) would rather know something hurtful (like – “you’re not skinny enough for me,” or – “I don’t like your children” (though, that would NEVER happen.  My children are adorable)), than to know nothing.  Knowing nothing means I try to figure it out myself and when women (and I’m guessing men too) try to ‘figure it out’ themselves, they default to assigning blame in places of deep insecurity and fear.  So – help a sista out and at least put us on the right, albeit hard to hear, path.

2.  Not being honest with yourself.  People who don’t know themselves or don’t take time to examine their own thoughts/hearts – truly don’t know WHY they’re acting a certain way.  And if you don’t know yourself, you can’t REALLY know or love me.  Anyone can be self-aware if you’ll take the TIME to think/reflect on your life and what you want and who you are.  To not do so is lazy, and in the end, it hurts the people around you who just want to know what’s up!

AND…this honesty thing swings both ways – not just telling someone what you DON’T like, but being free enough and bold enough to tell someone that you DO like him/her and why.
How good would it feel to get a text from someone you’re dating, saying how much they like XYZ about you?  Or while you’re spending time together, to step outside the conversation for a moment (enter that meta-commentary we talked about before) and just say how beautiful she is, or how interesting he is to listen to, or how much (if you’re at this point), you LOVE him/her?  Makes my heart swell to think about it…

I’ll end on this bizarre note:  My ex-boyfriend and I did something unorthodox, that I LOVED.  This was born out of some interesting conversations about past relationships and our mutual love of couples/relationship counseling (I have my degree in it and he was pursuing his).  Before we ever met, we e-mailed each other an ‘interview’ of sorts.  We called ’em quizzes, but they were really intended to help us vet each other before we ever even spent time together.  While I wouldn’t do this with all the potential partners I come into contact with now, I admit, I wouldn’t mind getting a guy’s answers to these questions as I’m trying to figure out if he’d be a good fit for me!?  What it DID, though – was open up the field of discussion on lots of sticky-wicket issues and gave us a snapshot of each others’ personalities.  It also softened our fears or hesitations in feeling free to be honest with each other.  It was like, we already knew each other well enough to feel safe asking tricky questions or saying how we really felt about each other.

So – I present to you our “quiz.”  I’ve combined the two interviews into one long one.

Enjoy.  And… yes – the next post will be funny.  🙂

Quiz to End All Quizzes…

What do you think are your top (2 or 3) relational strengths?

Weaknesses?

Do you smoke?  Ever?

What are your thoughts on drinking?

How often are you: 5-15min late? More than 15min late? Describe a circumstance when it would be acceptable to be more than 15min late:

What things are OK to hide from your spouse?

What is the best quality/memory from your childhood?

What kind of relationship do you have with your parents?
Siblings?

Do you play an instrument or sing?  Well?  In what capacity/venue?

In another life, what would you be, job/career-wise?

What do you think it means to live to honor Christ in your relationship/marriage?  Give concrete examples.

How much time (percentage) each day do you spend in reflection (about yourself, your significant other, etc.)?

In 5 years, where do you want to be:

–       in your job/career?

–       Spiritually?

–       Relationally?

How would your friends describe you?

What are the top 3 qualities you look for in a potential mate?

What are your top 3 dealbreakers?

What are some “non-negotiables” for you?

What are some of your pet peeves?

What is your love language? (words of affirmation, gifts, quality time, physical closeness, acts of service)

How would/will you act/treat your spouse when she’s sick?

Do you have a temper?  What do you do when you get angry?

How do you resolve conflict?

Do you like to snuggle?

What’s an ideal temperature in your home?

Which of these statements best reflects your views on a healthy relationship?

–       Marriage is about communicating well.

–       Good marriage depends on what you truly believe.

–       A successful marriage is full of compromise

Describe a perfect day – money is no object.

Do you think it’s ok to have sex before marriage?  Do you intend to?

Do you think you have the capacity (or the desire?) to put your spouse above yourself?  That is, to consider her needs/wants before your own?

Real or fake Christmas tree?

Early bird or night owl?

How do you like your steak?

Do you think you are a considerate/thoughtful (in the real sense of the words, not polite) lover?

Do you dance?

Who is your best friend?

Do you think you are a sacrificial person?  What does that mean to you?

Who is your oldest friend?

Who is your role model / mentor?

What is your biggest fear?

Do you have any phobias?

If you were to write a book, what would the title be?

Top three books you’ve read?

Top three tv shows you enjoy?

Top three movies of all time?

Top three artists/albums?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

What did you have for breakfast?

Name your top 2 or 3 vices

What can you not live without?

About what things are you selfish or unyielding?

A perfect dinner would be…

Do you have any bad habits?

List 3 quirky/random or seemingly insignificant details about you or your life that I might not otherwise learn in the first few meetings/conversations?

Tell one funny or embarrassing story about yourself:

Where would you visit if you had the chance?

Do you tend toward optimism or pessimism?

Are you a trusting or distrustful person, generally?

Where would you want to retire?

How do you feel about cursing?

Thoughts on pets:

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

How are you financially?  Saver?  Spender?  Worrier?  Free-spirit?  Do you stick to a budget, or try to?

Do you like your job?

What is your favorite smell?

How do you feel when someone interrupts you?

On a workday, how many times, whether via text or phone, would you like to connect to your guy/girl?

Do you communicate during lovemaking to tell your partner what you’d like, or do you expect him to just know?

How long do you take to forgive if you are justifiably offended or wounded emotionally?

Describe what your future spouse’s relationship to your children would look like:

How important is it to you that your mate understands you deeply? Can you be happy and maintain a healthy relationship even if this doesn’t happen?

Under what circumstances would you consider filing for divorce? This is a difficult question but please elaborate openly.

How often would you like to eat out at restaurants or order food?

Where are you on the neat freak – – slob continuum?

What are your thoughts on your mate’s use of his/her recreational time and energy?
Videogames, TV, Facebook, Watching Sports, Personal Hobbies, etc.


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.


Smooching and Fine Wine

Two of my most favorite things.  Let’s just jump right in.

I love to kiss.

Yup.  And this shouldn’t shock anyone who knows me.  Heck, even my pastor dad who may read this is probably nodding his head in resignation…’yup…that’s Sarah.’

I’ve always been affectionate and expressive…the essential pairing for an expert smoocher.

Kissing is like finding the perfect wine.  Nobody heading into a fantastic dinner party just HOPES they’ll be serving Franzia’s finest or the bargain bin Sutter Home Chardonnay.  And no one who leans in extra close on a date just HOPES they’ll get a half-decent smooch.  No – we ALL want the deliciously smooth, but exciting bold flavors of that perfect French red.  The one that, when you take a sip of it just after a bite of amazing food, makes your mouth explode with flavor and sing with celebration.  That’s the kiss I want, at least.

And luckily, there are lots of varieties of fine wines and fine kissers.  It doesn’t always have to be a bossy red, it can be a delightfully crisp New World white – sweet and flirty, but with depth nonetheless.  Or that kicky Argentinian Carmenere.  Or… or… the list goes on.  But, boy…there’s a lot of bad wine out there too.  There’s the white wine that comes in those peculiarly cumbersome glass jars at the Olive Garden, where – when you ask them what varietal of grape was used, they look blankly at you and say, “Um….white.”  There’s the ones on the bottom shelf at Kroger with the “you always save” $5.99 sign combined with that not-quite-right color… the ones you wouldn’t even use for cooking.  Or the one your friend picked out because it had the “cutest” label, but she has no idea how it tastes and you crack it only to find that it’s glorified vinegar you have to now choke down with a “bless your heart” smile.  Ick.

And kissers are just about the same.  A good kisser “costs” more.  Now, don’t go there.  I’m not talking a literal cost.  My dating hasn’t gotten desperate enough to warrant soliciting tricks.  I just mean – there’s often a greater relational  investment required – one that I’m happy to ‘pay’ – to get the good “wine.”  And, oh…the good wine is SO GOOD.

What makes a kiss good or bad?  I’m so glad you asked.  Becuase, as you may be picking up on by now – I have an opinion or two and I’m not shy about sharing.  So, here goes.

A GOOD kiss is…

– Passionate.  It comes from a place of real desire.  You know that moment when you’re looking at someone and your thoughts get all jumbled up and confused because your mind has been overtaken with the desire to just grab his face and plant one on ‘im?
And you might be thinking, “well – DUH, passion is an obvious component to a decent kiss,” but I contend that the best kind of passion isn’t the episodic or momentary “I feel horny” impulse.  The best kind is the passion that lives in you and is part of the core of who you are.  Maybe this is why I’m drawn to men who are obviously creative, charismatic, passionate people.  Musicians, artists, writers, even comedians – men who have that “fire in the belly” as an old friend used to say.  It’s always in there because it’s a part of their personality.  So, when it comes time for locking lips – they’ve got a natural fuel that drives it to be amazing.

– Intentional.  A good kiss comes from a thoughtful place.  He’s thinking about what will make it good for you.  He’s thinking about how his hands on your face will make you swoon even more, or about pulling you close with that perfect amount of strength – enough to say “I’m big and strong and can protect you” but not so much that it gives off the creeper vibe, or tugging your hair or….
(takes a deep cleansing breath…focus, woman… FOCUS!!)

– Appropriately paced.  We’ve all kissed “that guy.”  The one who, the very moment there’s lip-to-lip contact, starts contemplating which inappropriate “the bathing suit covers it” part he’s gonna go for.  You think you’re simply enjoying the kiss and he’s reaching for the goodies.  Come on, dude.  Hasn’t some wise person in your life explained the whole “women are convection ovens” bit to you?  We need a while to preheat… don’t go all ‘microwavey’ on us…it’s SO off-putting.  Plus, I’ve heard those waves can cause cancer, so…

– Improving with every new “installment.”  When you find someone with whom you connect – on that sensual level – every kiss is better than the last.  Why?  Because you’re learning each other – your styles, your likes/dislikes, and aiming to be better than the time before.  You’re also growing more comfortable so that you can be free to relax and do your best work.  It’s an art, really – and I, for one, am aiming to perfect my craft.  Finding that rhythm of passion that makes a so-so kiss an amazing kiss – is like gold.

Now…let’s talk about the bad kiss.
Let me be the first to say, if I sample a mid-level Sonoma Valley Cab Sav and I’m underwhelmed,  I won’t just toss it out. I’m not a MONSTER!   I’m open to letting it breathe a bit, maybe pairing it with a different food…and seeing if it grows on me.  If the wine is willing to evolve… I can be patient.  BUT – a full-on BAD wine has got to go.  As in – down the drain.
(I realize that sorta sounds like I want to have the bad kissers of the world rubbed out… which I don’t.  I just don’t want to kiss them.  Capisce?  (Mob humor is never not funny))

I had an experience a few months ago with a guy who was handsome, smart, funny, had a great career and was a charming conversationalist.  On our second date – he kissed me.  And it was our last date.  The kiss was so abysmal (and not in the Joey Tribiani sort of “abysmal”) that it was a non-negotiable deal-breaker.  (I haven’t written about this until now because I wanted to be sure he wasn’t reading my blog…yikes!)  The problem, (among other things…things I can’t verbalize in this public forum, for fear of mortification.  Things that still make me want to rock in a corner with my special lovee…), was laziness.  He was SUCH a lazy kisser.  I almost thought it was a joke at first.  He leaned in, closed his eyes and pretty much just shoved his face into mine until our lips smooshed together.  There was no movement.  No nuance.  No tenderness OR fire.  His hands stayed down by his side.  It was like an awkward movie scene of some gawky 13-year old boy nervously kissing a girl he’s crushing on at band camp and having no idea what to do.  It was the dullest moment.  I might have fallen asleep from the sheer unimaginativenesss of it all were it not for the steady assault on my face.

But I’m an artist.  So, I dared not give up so quickly.  I soldiered on.  I thought – maybe if I demonstrate what I like, he’ll mirror it.  So, I put my hand behind his neck and gave him some of my best moves.
MY BEST MOVES!
I wasted my prime smooching material on lazy-guy.  And what did I get in return?  Nada.  More of his lips just pressed against mine – occasionally backing away and then coming in again for a landing.  My grandmother kisses with more passion!  Sure, she peppers your cheeks with an uncomfortably high number of pecks while gushing, “Oh, it’s just been TOO long!”  But still.

And the worst part about it all was …how was I supposed to explain to him why we weren’t going to meet up again?  I had to tell him something.  I have a rule of thumb that I’m ok using the old “fade-out” method on guys I haven’t met.  But if we’ve been out together, I owe you a text to say I don’t think we’d make a good match.  And you just KNOW that lazy kisser was going to be the guy to text back, “why?”
Yeesh!  What does one say?
Here’s what I texted him:  (Closing my eyes tightly and crossing my fingers that he’s not reading this right now and fantasizing various ways to kill me) “I just think we have different smooching styles.”  That’s pretty good, right?

I’ll spare you the conversation that ensued, but after a brief consideration of letting him pay me for kissing lessons, and then another brief consideration of how that’s basically being a lip prostitute, I gracefully bowed out.

So – yes.  Good kissing is amazing.  Bad kissing is horrible.  And, as much as it sounds shallow, it’s a make-it-or-break-it issue for me.  Obviously not the ONLY one, but an important one.  I MAY or may not even have a ranking system for the guys I’ve had the pleasure (or horror) of kissing… but let’s save that for another time.

Meanwhile – I’m going wine shopping…


Creating Boys, but Craving Men

Let me preface this post with an apology for its length and ‘wax-ocity’ (yes…that is now a word.  When one waxes on about something… the noun form).  As I cull through online profiles or interact with men at (fill-in-the-blank: bars, church, social events, work, etc.), I’m more and more aware that I have conflicting desires.  And it’s just about time I admitted that and searched for the truth underneath it all.  After all, if I don’t know what I want – how can I get it?

I’ve had these ideas swimming in my head for months,…maybe even years now, but have never really been able to put my finger on the real problem.  Until now.  Yes – you read that correctly – I’ve figured it all out.  The answers to one of life’s greatest dilemmas – boys vs. men.   In the last few days, I had a eureka moment where I finally figured out WHY it is that we have such an abundance of boys around…and so few men!?!  I should be paid for this stuff…no, seriously… these are pearls, folks.  So – grab a pen and paper, pull up your chair and let’s get down to bidness.

A phrase you’ll hear women say all the time, is:  “I’m tired of boys.  I want a man.”
And, while I think that’s ultimately true… I’d like to contend that we (women), actually ACT otherwise, and in doing so, not only do we confuse the boys/men of the world, but we actually help create and continue a viscious cycle of making boys.  Hang with me.  This is gonna get good.

Let’s start with the basics.  What is it that sets the men apart from the boys?  And no, I’m not going to subject you to cutesy poems or posters or those things that end up all over Facebook about “boys do this, but a man does that….blah blah…”  I’m also not going to insult your intelligence by defining it simply as a maturity issue.  There are varying levels of maturity for boys and men, …this goes beyond that.  Hello – we are ALL maturing all the time… No, I’m going to tell you, from a woman’s perspective, what it is that I see/want/think when it comes to this distinction – deeper than issues of maturity or chivalry or the games we play.

And let me ALSO clarify that wanting a true man, doesn’t mean that we (I’m assuming other women feel the same way I do… I guess that’s a bit presumptuous, but – hey – that’s what the comments section of this blog is for) don’t want the fun, silly stuff that you may THINK I associate with being a boy.  Being a boy has everything to do with self-absorbtion and nothing to do with fun.  Being a man doesn’t mean being a reserved, measured and boring guy!  Quite the contrary!  A man, in his self-awareness, has the freedom to truly be:
– spontaneous
– silly/goofy
– witty
– romantic/impulsive
– passionate
– flirtatious/playful
A man is these things for their own sakes – because they are exciting or fun on their own, not as tools to feed a hole of unawareness or woundedness.

Let’s establish what, then, I DO mean when I am talking about men and boys.  Then, I’ll admit where I think women perpetuate the very thing we SAY we don’t want.  So – men (and boys?) – hang in there… this isn’t a man-bashing post at all.  Trust me on this.  🙂

First – let’s start with the boys.  They’re adorable, after all:

Signs you’re dealing with a BOY:

– Emotionally insecure.  (This comes across as either immaturity or an opposite defensive move – meanness, distancing, game-playing, gas-lighting, stone-walling, etc.)
– Gives in to (believes and acts on) cover emotions rather than knowing himself and digging deep within to discover/learn what it is he truly needs/desires.
– Thinks that his happiness and his comfort are things he deserves…that you owe him.
– Relies on ego stroking and self-indulgence as his source of strength and life – even to the point of manipulating a woman to get the praise he “deserves” (needs).
– Views conversation and romantic engagement as an opportunity for his own selfish gain.  (don’t get me wrong…the effort a boy will put into his end-game (usually sex, but maybe even just self-praise) is usually pretty stinkin’ fun to be on the receiving end of.  Boys use romance, flirting, connection and sensuality to get self-gratification or sex, while a man views sex as a response to a shared love and passion…but I’m getting ahead of myself).
– Is ultimately about the TAKING.  And never about the sacrificing.
– Is lazy.  Doesn’t “show up” to the relationship, except for the ‘fun’ parts (you know…receiving the love of an amazing woman and all…)
– Doesn’t know himself well enough to recognize his internal woundedness, and instead tries to control or dominate a woman to compensate for the mess inside him.  He disguises his own fears by masquerading as strong or unfeeling.

Next…. let’s talk about men.  Rewrrr….  Lawsa mercy I do get excited just thinkin’ about ’em…is anyone else in here warm?…. (fans herself wildly as if she has the vapers…)
Signs you’re dealing with a MAN:

– Self-aware.  Takes time to reflect on himself and identify the root of his masculinity (I dare say this has something to do with his place in the created order), and thusly – his true needs and desires.
– Isn’t afraid to recognize and tap into the deep well of emotion he has at his core.
– Realizes his role in helping a woman feel secure.  Not in a co-dependent way, but in a caring place – out of his own strength.  Quick caveat on this. ..

I’m a firm believer in men and women being equal in signifiance, but obviously different in makeup and strengths.  And, I’ll just say it – I think there IS a sense in which women are the “weaker sex.”  Oh, settle.  I’m not saying we’re less intelligent or capable.  Think of us like a highly expensive and delicate vase.  It has great worth, but it’s easly broken.  It needs to be cared for and valued.  And yes – sometimes dealt with more gently than a table saw.   That’s all.  And a man will CARE for his “vase,” while a boy won’t recognize it’s worth and will deal harshly with it…breaking it into a thousand pieces.  Ouch.
Ok.  Caveat over.

– Is thoughtful.  Not in a Hallmark-y, “awww…isn’t he SO sweet??” way.  Not in a “he sent me roses on Valentine’s Day” kinda way.  (Gag… c’mon…roses?  Not particularly imaginative…which goes right to my point).  No – I mean – actually THINKS.  Has thoughts.  Spends time thinking.  And then acts from a place of thoughtfulness.  Pair this with him knowing about YOU?  And you’ve got a reservoir of romantic potential.  RRRrrrr…..
– Puts the needs of the people he loves in a place of significance/importance.  This means he feels good about making others happy/secure.
– Helps.  This is part of that effort I alluded to earlier.  A boy tries to get out of work, while a man wants to help you hook up your wireless router, install a towel bar and actually anchor it into the drywall, check the oil in your car even though – yes, you know how to do it, but it’s hot and he loves serving you this way, wash the dishes after a big party, kill bugs, etc.  And let me just beat you to the punch – I know women can do these things.  And we do!  But it is just so nice to know that a man WANTS to help us.  It’s an outward expression of care and really – love.
– Owns his woundedness.  Has the capacity and desire to look at his past hurts and identify them.  This means that he won’t be projecting the pain of those onto you in the relationship, but rather asking for your help to walk ALONGSIDE him as he works toward healing.  THIS is what distinguishes a codependent relationship from an interdependent one.

 Another side note.  I do a lot of these…side notes.  I guess I just have THAT much good stuff to say… it’s a heavy burden, really, but… I think I wear it with humility.
This idea of knowing your woundedness and letting the other person in the relationship come alongside you to work through it rather than putting it on that person – is something that many women are good at.  But, it’s misunderstood as its own weakness.  This is not weakness.  It’s internal strength.  I have a friend who was recently put off by a woman’s online profile because she was open about an area in which she’s tender and needs a little extra patience.  I think he was scared that she would somehow be needy …when in fact I applaud her connection with her ‘stuff,’ such that, when something comes up in that arena, she’ll know it’s triggering emotion of her own and NOT of the guy she’s with… do you realize how freeing this is?  This is the opposite of needy/clingy.  Knowing your sources/triggers of pain and your connection to past hurts is strength that can make a new relationship SING with health!

– Knows what he wants and pursues it.  Especially when it comes to a woman.  He knows what qualities he desires and when he sees them, he actively chases after them.  This means he’ll use all the tools at his manly disposal to woo you.  His charm, his kindness, and yes – his sexuality – but in the RIGHT way.  Once again – it IS very warm in here…right?  Right??
– Is responsible.  Now, wait – before you go falling asleep on me here, I don’t mean this in a “makes his bed in the morning” kinda way.  Nor do I mean it in a “makes enough money to run a home” kinda way.  NO – I’m referring to something much more intrinsic.  A man takes responsibility for what belongs to him – including the things/people he has chosen to pull into his life.  Example: If a man chooses to be with you – to commit to you – then he also takes seriously his participation in that relationship.  He takes ownership of your well-being along with his own (and yes, women – we have to do this too, to be set apart from the girls).  When he makes a mistake, even if it’s completely unintentional, he owns it.  Ok….do you feel it?  Can you sense it coming?  Time for another aside.  You know, I’m not gonna lie…this feels so right…

Let’s talk for a moment about apologies.  One of my biggest pet-peeves is a lame-sauce apology.  This would be the boy-caliber kind.  He’s gotten “caught” doing or saying something insensitive, hurtful, thoughtless, etc. and out of obligation, says something stupid like, “I’m sorry you’re upset.”  NO!  Oy….

A real apology – the kind that may just get you some make-up sex (ears perked up everywhere…) takes responsibility for the misfire, claims it honestly and shows genuine remorse.  It may look something like this:  (face is soft and accessible – makes eye contact) “I can see now how I hurt you. When I said ______________, it made you feel ________________ because _____________, and I hate to have been the cause of you hurting.  I am really sorry.”  THIS is the kind of apology that softens our hearts.  It means swallowing pride, but more at its core, it means recognizing the error and taking responsibility for the part you played in messing up.  And c’mon – everyone messes up!  So this time it’ll be your turn, the next time it’ll be her turn.  But, to be clear, it won’t ever be MY turn.  I rarely, if ever, make mistakes.

– Is authentic.  This might seem obvious.  But, oh-ho-ho… you’d be surprised.  Authenticity requires vulnerability.  And that’s a hard thing for a guy to show.  Being your true self exposes you to misunderstanding at best and cruelty at worst.  But, oh… when you find that safe space that a woman who truly loves you can offer?  You’re in the sweet spot.  And when both people are being actively authentic, the passion and satisfaction that comes from that… well, it’s other-worldly.

Ultimately, a man is all the fun of a boy (or what we THINK of as boyish) plus the selflessness that comes with knowing yourself and desiring to SHARE love, not just receive love.

I really am sorry that this is going on SO long.  And probably most of the readers have given up, but…if you’re still with me… here comes the woman bashing part.  (If make-up sex didn’t get you, maybe this will?)

I propose…(I feel like I need some kind of drum roll, or roving spotlight or at the very least, a dramatic hush to fall over the crowd)…
I propose  that women perpetuate the boyishness that we ultimately hate.
We say with our lips, and believe in our deep-down spots that we want a man.  But we ACT (out of loneliness, desperation, fear) like we want a boy.  And – WE PURSUE BOYS.

Yup.
We are, by nature, compassionate, mothering, nurturing – and we’re drawn to wounded/insecure boys.  Maybe at some level we feel like their reliance on us is love?  Maybe we think it’s the only ‘hook’ we can use to keep them faithful to us?  Maybe we truly think we can heal them and they’ll love us all the more for it?  But for whichever or all of those reasons and more – we pick the outwardly charming, but inwardly selfish guy.  We pick him, we jump right into his immaturity and self-absorbtion and then 6 months later we cry to our best friends and ask why he doesn’t care or doesn’t try or is distant or mean.  Why?  WHY does he treat me so badly?
Because he’s unable to give outside of himself. Because he’s a boy. All his attention is inward.  He’s a boy.  Every sweet and romantic thing he did in the “illusion” phase was for his own glory and once he was called upon to give and sacrifice and show up… it turned out …..you guessed it… he was a boy.

Here are some examples of how women keep men acting like boys.  How we play the game to our own detriment.

1.  Instead of saying how we really feel – and maybe making it more acceptable for him to also say how HE feels, we play the game and clam up.  Call it flirty or coy… but it’s IN-authentic.

2.  We give a boy what he wants – in bed.  (I use the term “we” loosely here.  And yes…pun intended).  By giving in and having sex with a guy before WE are ready, we send a message that you can just have that – without any relational work.  So – after several of those encounters, boys know that it’s simply a numbers game – troll for sex long enough and you’ll find a willing taker.

3.  Similarly, we do the same thing with our affection.  We may not give sex away easily, but we’re quick to give our hearts to someone who hasn’t demonstrated they’ll show it care.  A handsome face, a sparkling wit, and we’re ready to expose our soft underbelly.   And if he was a man – he’d recognize the intimate move and match it or at the very least – step carefully around it.  But a boy will either take advantage or run for the hills thinking we’re ‘crazy’ or ‘moving too quickly’ (which…perhaps we are!)

4.  We reward the wrong things.  Remember that conditioning I talked about in an earlier post?  Give a rat a treat for doing something and he’ll do it again?  Women give men ‘treats’ (this can be anything from a come-hither look, to a favor, to a sweet touch, to our entire bodies) for simply offering up the basic human kindnesses that should just be a given.  In fact, we even reward BAD behavior (self-indulgent talking, selfishness, even rudeness) too… and we’re surprised when it continues.

I could go on and on, but I’ve already written a small thesis, so – I’m gonna try to land the plane.

From the time men are young (and it’s actually OK for them to be boys), our culture (including us women) contributes to a certain emasculation (we think it’s nurturing, caring, mothering, showing compassion, etc.) …that doesn’t stop in adulthood.  Then, when they continue to act like boys when they should have miraculously become a man, we resent their relational dependency that we so once loved.  We want a man, but we created a boy.

One last side note:

It may be for this reason that so many women swoon over the poorly written tribute to false-masculinity that is the “50 Shades” series.  We mistake aggressive and domineering behavior for being a man…we confuse sadism with strength… and we so crave a man that we’ll take the other end of the boy pendulum (with one end being wimpy-ness and the other being misdirected aggression) instead of seeking an entirely different pendulum.  Mark these words – Christian Grey doesn’t love anyone but himself.  He is a boy in a handsome man’s body.

What’s the solution?  I’m still workin’ on that.  But, here’s what I know for ME.  I’m watching more closely than ever for those red flags of boy-hood.  And when I see them – even if they’re paired with a devilishly handsome body and well-spoken demeanor, I’m going to keep my emotional distance until I can see the depth, vulnerability and self-awareness that constitute what I’m REALLY looking for.  I’m also not going to contribute to the boy-making anymore.  I’m not going to play games …I’m just going to be myself.

And if it sends a guy running… well, chances are – he’s a boy running away.  And that works out rather well – because it leaves the space in front of me open for a man.


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’.


You’re NOT Perfect Just the Way You Are

I’d like to become a professional dating consultant.  No, not a matchmaker.  YOU find the girl, I’ll help you keep her.  Sort of like Hitch, but …white, and with more estrogen.

The thing is – I’ve been on enough bad dates or heard about them or have even witnessed them from a table over, that I feel the world is ready for me to make it better, one clueless guy at a time.  Think of it like a makeover, but more for your personality.  Hey, I’m not here to sugarcoat.  I’m like the SuperNanny of courtship.

My services would include, but not be limited to the following:

– helping you reassess your strategy in connecting with women.  If there are more people like me out there compelling the men of the world to make contact with women the way we dream of, then maybe we really WILL start seeing more of those RomCom encounters we want – preferably without the com.  For instance – if there’s a girl at a coffeeshop with no wedding ring and she looks over at you and makes eye contact, even if just for a second, that’s your invitation to go talk to her.  That’s it.  Simple, huh?

– Recording your date and, in my post-date consultation, doing a cooperative video analysis.  There will be a whiteboard, X’s and arrows, and …if you pay for the deluxe package, even an inspiring pep talk.

– For those in need of intensive help, I will even come along on your dates.  I’ll sit one table over (hey, I’m that girl anyway), eavesdrop, and use our own pre-coordinated complex taxonomy of visual cues and hand signals to help you navigate the tricky waters of women.

– In cases of extreme emergencies, I will step INTO the date and rescue the woman.  This may or may not involve me asking you to just go, but it will certainly include profuse apologizing, topic-changing and basically an entire structural reorg.  (That’s corporate talk for starting from scratch).

But, if you’re not ready to sign up yet, let me whet your appetite with some teasers of truth.  These are pearls, so – my publicist would kill me for just giving them away for free… but, what can I say?  I’m feeling generous today.

Things girls do NOT like:

– licking your lips or doing weird things with your tongue.  Gross.  Do you want to date me or eat me?  Please don’t answer.

– Talking about yourself the entire time.  And here’s the thing – this is true even IF you’re an interesting guy.  But, let’s be honest – most of the culprits of this crime are not.  Interesting.  So we’re left to our own internal devices to make the time pass.  My personal fantasy involves me scooping my eyes out with a melon-baller.
* In related news, if you hear yourself use the phrase, “to make a long story short,” the ship has already sailed.  Abort.  Abort!

– Too much cologne.  This is not an irreparable issue, but it’s not gonna help your game either.  Even if it smells good.  A little goes a long way.  When in doubt, err on the side of the woman not being able to smell the cologne at all than to smell too much.  A good rule of thumb should be – we should only be able to catch a whiff of it if we get very close (e.g. hugging, kissing, whispering in your ear, etc.)

– Speaking ill of others.  We don’t want to hear you talk about what a *&%# your ex-wife is, we don’t want to hear about the guy in your office that you can’t stand, and we don’t want you to bash another people group – unless it’s a group – of people – who are mean…then I guess you’d have a double negative on your hands, wouldn’t you?  I went on a date with a guy who said, “gay people are so GROSS.”  Yikes!  Just like that?  An entire population of people – summed up with such ignorance… good grief.  Such a turn-off.

– Chastising your date.  I had a guy tell me once – on a second date – that I really should relax my “rules” of not sleeping with a guy on the first couple of dates.  Oh really?  You think I should relax that rule, huh?  What a shocker!  And, no.
But, to be clear – now that you went all parental tone on me and let me know I’M the one who’s off for not wanting to sleep with someone I don’t love, I’m SO much MORE attracted to you!  (read the sarcasm)

– Checking other women out.  I am embarrassed for us as a society, that this still has to be spelled out.
Look, I know men are visual.  But, are they also completely unable of exercising self-discipline?  If you had any idea how it made your date feel to see you eyeing a pretty woman who walks by, I wonder if you’d think twice before the next time.

– Being late.  Check it: this is the first and simplest way you can show a woman you care about her – respect her time.  If you’re late, it tells her that you think she’s important enough for you to try.

– Laughing at everything we say – but not because it’s funny.  Because you’re trying to impress us.  I’ve had guys laugh even when I’m not saying something funny.  Now, granted, I’m hilarious.  So, it’s hard sometimes to tell when the wit stops and the “regular” stuff starts, but still.  When you’re doing that nervous giggling after every sentence I say, it makes me think you don’t have a backbone.

Things girls DO like:

– Winking.  Not in that cheesy “what would it take to put you in this car today?” kinda way, but a sweet or flirty wink… will send our hearts racing.

– Sensual touch.  Touching the arm or the knee while you’re laughing or talking, shows us that you like us and steps up the confidence a little so we can continue to feel free to be ourselves.  I mean, this is simple conditioning.  If the rat pushes the lever, it gets a fruit loop…and it’s gonna push the lever again.  Yes – in this scenario, women are rats.  In hindsight, I might have chosen a better metaphor, but here we are.

– Eye contact.  Again – not the creepy kind where too much of the whites of your eyes are showing and your chin is jutted out like a crazed psycho.  No – just maintaining enough that we know you’re interested.  Now, if you wanna take it to the next level (when the moment is right), brush our hair away from our face while looking at us…and we’ll be yours for life.

– Dressing well.  A double-breasted suit isn’t necessary, but just make it look like you care.  A shirt half tucked in, half out or a tee-shirt with bleach stains all over it don’t send the message that you’re particularly excited about meeting me.  A clean gig line is halfway to love, baby.

– Pay.  I know, I know…it’s archaic.  But, I’m sorry, it’s sexy.  This won’t apply to your entire courtship, obviously.  But that first date – if the guy pays, it sends a message about his character.  Now, listen, single women aren’t just trying to get free drinks/dinners, as much as whiny embittered guys would like you to believe.  Do you really think that we think it’s WORTH a free drink to put up with someone we have zero interest in?  No.  If we’re there, we WANT to be there.  You paying just shows that you think we’re WORTH buying a meal/drink/pony.  (just seeing if you’re paying attention).

– Fresh breath.  When a guy leans in to talk to me and I can smell minty deliciousness, he gets major points.

– Interest in our lives.  Ask questions!  (One of my services is providing lists of appropriate questions, based on prior level of contact, number of dates, etc.).  And for those of you advanced enough – ask questions within the questions (this is SO Inception-y).  In other words, if you ask her what church she goes to and she answers, don’t just move on – ask her why?  What is it about that church (fill in here – job, hobby, music, etc.) that she enjoys?  And with each answer, dig into the conversation more, until you feel like you’re really getting to KNOW her.   People yearn to be KNOWN.  This is one of the greatest gifts you can give.  Much better than buying an expensive dinner.

[Sidebar – as I sit and write this at a coffeeshop in Houston’s Heights, there are two people right across from me who met for coffee for the first time.  She’s talking, and he’s leaning in with a look of interest on his face, making eye contact and asking follow-up questions.  Beautiful.  I feel like a National Geo explorer who just discovered some amazing new bird…]

You could basically boil most of this down into this simple rule…and it’s pretty complex, so – concentrate…

TRY.

That’s it.  Effort.  Women love a man who gives THOUGHT to us.
Effort is as the root of romance <– not gonna lie, this is good stuff here…

So, if you’re interested in my services, let me know and we’ll see what sort of package suits your particular situation best.  And I am certainly NOT doing this to add another pool of single men into my sphere of contact.  Nope.  That would be selfish and opportunistic…


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’.”