With all this talk of breaking things off, I thought I’d tell you a related story from my own dating life.
I have permission to share the story, but on the condition that I refer to this man as “Rahul.” Or is it “Raul?” Hmm… let’s just see what rolls off my fingertips as I type.
Let me paint the background picture for you, so you’ll understand my later angst.
Raul and I met on an online dating site, and quickly exchanged numbers. After a lovely phone conversation, we agreed to meet for drinks. There was flirty banter back and forth before we met (a whole string of texts about what to wear when we met. He told me he’d be the guy at the bar in a Panda suit. But, later, was bummed that the dry cleaner wasn’t done with said suit…all very cute.) Then when we finally did come face to face, it was a great first meeting. He was a total gentelman, easy to talk to, obviously smart, laughed at my jokes and was happy to pay for the drinks and appetizers (always a good sign on a first date, at least in my book).
About 35 minutes in, he said very candidly and sweetly, “oh, and… I’d love to go out with you again.” I loved it! FINALLY, a guy who isn’t playing games… just speaking his mind about what he likes/wants.
Great. Finished up the quickie first date and went our separate ways.
Second date: He called a few days ahead of time (planning! woo!) and asked me to a nice restaurant that just opened up in Houston. We had a great meal, laughed a lot, whenever he noticed my wine was low, he’d refill my glass. He was a gentleman. At the end of the night, he gave me a sweet short kiss when he walked me to my car. Perfect.
3rd date: Again, a few days ahead, he asked if I would feel comfortable coming over so he could cook me a meal (we’d already established a shared love of food). I happily agreed and when I got there, he had prepared the most amazing feast, even made me a delicious cocktail beforehand. He then came out with me and some friends to a wine bar, then salsa dancing (well – I did more of the dancing, he did more of the purse-watching, but still…tomato, tomahto), and the night ended with him making me a melt-in-your-mouth prosecco-poached peach tartin with homemade lemon ice cream. YUM. Ok, fine, we may have smooched for a while after that. Also yum.
Things continued like this for the next couple weeks – lovely dates (coffeeshops, walking in the Heights, dinners, even a relaxing pizza/movies/PJs night at my place, etc.), him being sweet, fun to be with and generous (after my computer bag was stolen on my birthday, and he remembered that I’d lost a bottle of my favorite perfume in it, he brought me a Chanel giftbag with a new bottle of perfume…how incredibly thoughtful is THAT? (and good TASTE, too)), and me genuinely enjoying his company. But, for me, there was a piece missing. The more we spent time together, the more I was truly baffled because in so many ways, he seemed perfect, but there was just something that wasn’t fitting for me.
Now, normally it doesn’t take me this many dates to know whether something is going to be a good match or not – which is why this situation with Raul is particularly intriguing. I think it’s, in part, because we were just becoming good friends, which was so nice, I wasn’t forcing myself to face the inner voice saying, “he’s not ‘the one,’ Sarah.”
But, finally, I realized I couldn’t keep going like this and I needed to let him know. But, HOW do you tell the sweetest guy you know, …
…a guy who spent the better part of an afternoon braising short ribs and picking basil for the mashed potatoes from his own garden (yes, you read correctly…he grows herbs in his cool Rice Military townhouse yard)…
…a guy who braved the Galleria ON A WEEKEND to buy you new Chanel perfume…
that it’s not gonna be a good match?
I knew we needed to talk, so when the next kid-free night came along, I let him know I was free. He asked if he could take me to a nice seafood restaurant in MidTown.
GREAT! I’m going to be telling this guy we’re a no-go and he’s going to be buying me a delicious crab-topped red snapper? Ugh… stomach starting to knot up.
I knew what I needed to do. I needed to talk with him BEFORE (in lieu of) going to a nice meal together. I knew it wasn’t fair to his time/money to agree to a meal of that caliber (now, it would’ve been a whole other thing if he’d just offered to treat me to Taco Cabana…), knowing that I was going to give him the “we’re not a good match” speech.
But, we’d been out enough, and established enough of a friendship that I couldn’t just text him. I knew I had to talk to him on the phone. Stomach hurting…
I knew it, but I didn’t WANNA! Who does? Stomach tightening up even more…
So, I did what any self-respecting emotionally intelligent, MA in counseling carrying woman would do.
I called my guy friend (Tyler).
I wanted him to say something that would get me off the hook (I don’t know what!? But he’s a think-outside-the-box sorta fellow…I figured he’d have SOMEthing up his sleeve). Nope. He said exactly what I already knew… talk to him before dinner. When I told him I was weak…and didn’t want to hurt Raul’s feelings, he told me to “grow a pair.”
So, I did what any self-respecting, was-hoping-to-hear-different-advice-from-Tyler woman would do.
I called ANOTHER guy friend (Doug).
I wanted HIM to say something that would get me off my own (and now Tyler’s) hook. But, you know what he said? “Grow a pair.” Geez! What are these two, in some anti-Sarah club?
The next two hours was me filled with me anxiously waiting for Raul’s call (to confirm dinner plans), where I would crush his spirit and deal with the disappointed fallout that would inevitably ensue.
Stomach now in full ulcer mode.
I even did that thing that adorable female protagonists do in movies, where you practice all the various ways you could say it, out loud. There may have even been pacing involved.
“Raul, you’re such a sweet guy and…” NO….
“Raul, I’ve just given this a lot of thought and… I really do want to be friends, but…” NO…
“Raul,… wanna make out?” NO!
Finally, he called. I took a big breath, my stomach, at this point, is now in a full constrictor knot.
Here’s the convo:
Raul: Hey! We still on for Reef at 7:00?
Me: Um… well, I was hoping we could talk for a couple minutes. Are you driving home?
Raul: No, I just stepped out of a work Happy Hour for a minute to call you. What’s up?
Me: (sweat dripping down the back of my neck…he’s not even really alone? Crap…) Well, can you call me when you have a couple of minutes to talk?
Raul: Is something wrong? Is it bad?
Me: Well…. I just…. I wanted to talk with you about something before we go eat.
Raul: Can you just give me the reader’s digest version? (Great…)
Me: (deep yoga quality breath) Well, ok. Raul, I’ve just been thinking a lot about you and me, and about whether we’re a good romantic match or not, and I …
Raul: We’re not!
Raul: (laughing) We’re not a good match! I was going to talk to you about it tonight!
What??? All this time, and all the years taken off my gastrointestinal life… for nothing?
He felt the SAME? Good grief, what are the odds?
Raul: Do you mind telling me what it was for you that didn’t work?
Me: Well, …(started to tell him one of the issues…and then he kindly interrupted)
Raul: Actually… this is really good feedback for me, and I think we both agree that we like each other and are friends, so…what do you say we go ahead and go to dinner and talk about it there?
Cut to an hour later at the restaurant. We ended up having a great meal and discussion. I had way too much fun with our server – “Can you give us a minute? We’re trying to break UP here!!” or when she asked, “is there anything I can bring you two,” I replied, “yeah, an eligible bachelor and bachelorette!” There was some serious frivolity happening…
Raul ended up telling me the BEST possible reason why a guy wouldn’t want to date me. Why was it the best? Because it truly wasn’t about me. It’s one of the only times someone could say “It’s not you, it’s me,” which works out perfectly for my ego, since I think I’m practically perfect. Oh wait… that’s Mary Poppins. But, still.
He said that when he was at my house and saw my daughter’s shoes lined up in her room (my kids weren’t there, I was just showing him around, lest you all start judging me for introducing him to the kiddos too early…. settle down), it clicked for him that he wanted that. But from the teeny tiny shoes on up. He wants to START a family, not come in as an add-on to an existing one. And he hadn’t realized before then just how strong that desire was. He then went on to say all sorts of kind and complimentary things about me that he DID like (is there any more appropriate way to end things with someone? I think not.)
We agreed that we are definitely going to continue the friendship, enjoy meals together, meet up for coffee/walks/concerts/etc., he’s gonna hang out with my singles crew, and we’ve even talked about co-hosting a wine tasting party. It does NOT get better than this.
So – there you have it.
Great breakup (minus my ulcer).
Great story to tell.
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.
Let’s take a trip to the jerk store. Every town has at least one (Houston has 14)…and there you can find all manner of misogynists, scoundrels, miscreants and generically rude persons. They come in every size, color and breed. In the last month, I’ve had the distinct displeasure of dealing with 3 different brands – and I’m here to share my tale with you.
First…and back by popular demand…. (and also, because of a rogue text…) – Mr. McSmarmy!
For those of you just now joining our show…back in May of this year, I gave my number to a guy online who hit me up for what I can only assume was casual sex (he offered, never having met me, to bring a bottle of wine to my house at 11:30 at night on a Tuesday). When I refused, he said some pretty nasty things. All the details can be found here:
So… I MAY have accidentally sent a text that was intended for a friend, to this guy. And when I say “may,” I mean that, much to my own shock and dismay, I did, in fact, send it. They have the same first name, and I didn’t have either of their last names in my phone (not to fear, the situation has been remedied). But before I realized my mistake, McSmarmy was texting me – “who is this?” Still thinking it was my unsmarmy friend, I played along with what I thought was a string of joking texts. Argh…before long he was calling and I realized, to my horror, what I had done. I apologized profusely and got off the phone, but – as you may have guessed – it sparked an interest with him again and he began texting…. again.
The texting continued from there. I reminded him of how horrible he had been to me in our last round of texts, and he (much to my surprise) apologized, saying he had been in a terrible place then and wasn’t himself, and that he was truly sorry. He asked if he could make it up to me.
Now,… if I didn’t write a blog about these things, I would’ve kindly declined the offer, but… as you all know… I’m wont to bait these situations to see what will come of them. Additionally, he’s a chef at a new popular restaurant near me and I thought I might get a free meal for a girlfriend and myself out of it. So, I told him I might stop by that weekend and say hi. More texts followed where he tried to convince me to meet up with him for a drink, but I was busy with other things and couldn’t.
In LESS than two days, he was already SO frustrated with the fact that I hadn’t met up with him, that he wrote me the “dear John” text. Ha! What?? Two days? This guy is unbelievable.
I’d like to say that’s the last we’ll see of McSmarmy, but… I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll make at least one more appearance…
One can only hope, right? 😉
The next flavor of jerkitude is the guy who wants to see ALL the goodies ahead of time before ever meeting a woman. It’s trés classy.
You’ll know you’ve found one of these gems when you start texting and he asks you for more photos. Now, if you only have one or two pictures on your profile, this is a perfectly fair request, but I have 15 photos up there – some close-up, some full-body shots, …so there should be no question of what I look like. So, it’s always a red flag to me when a guy asks for more. Still… not EVERY guy who presents a red flag is actually a dirtbag, so sometimes I’ll oblige.
I’d like to present to you exhibit A – a string of e-mails between me and one such particular jerk… just by way of example.
Here’s the backstory – we met online. He’s handsome, intelligent and funny. He’s an orthopedic surgeon in Houston’s med center and we share a lot of similar interests: guitar, wine, comedy, etc. So, you can see why I’d be so surprised to find he’s THIS shallow. Read on.
Before we begin – two caveats:
a. This is NC17 stuff, so if you’re reading this with younger audiences (not that I can picture a world in which a pre-teen would have ANY interest in my blog, but still…), you may want to censor first.
b. Yes – I baited this guy. I did it for you… you’re welcome.
First, let me give credit to my friend Tyler, who supplied me with the line of reasoning that if you’re looking for 100% outer beauty, you’re probably going to find just that…and only that. Good stuff.
But…yeah. And lest you think this is an anomalous situation, you’re sorely mistaken. This stuff happens all the time in the dating world. It’s a wonder any of the nice ones even make it to the point of falling in love, when we’ve had to wade through the waters of 100% loser to get there.
The final sort of sot we’ll study today – is the no-show. Yup – having a problem with commitment would be a monumental understatement with these guys. They’re the ones who talk a big game (“Oh my goodness, you’re adorable – I can’t WAIT to meet you!”) and then, when the time comes to put their bodies where their texts are… they’re MIA.
Yup – I’m referring to being stood up.
Left at the altar of first date blues…
Abandoned on the street corner of hope and disillusion…
(alright…enough of the sappy poetic restatements. Everyone knows what it means to be stood up.)
It happened to me for the first time a couple weeks ago. This guy initiated contact with me through an online site. We exchanged some e-mails and then went to texting. He was witty and sweet. He even canceled a meeting to be able to make it to the time/place we agreed on.
Then, I arrived… and he never showed. I texted once…didn’t hear back (until almost midnight that night…. our date was at 5:30).
Here’s what I don’t get. Why wouldn’t you just send a simple tiny text saying, “I’m not going to be able to make it after all.” Or even, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think we’d make a good match, so there’s no point in meeting.” What? Too harsh? Really? Worse than forcing me to take my fully-dolled-up self to a bar and sit there like an idiot searching all over for a guy who’s never coming? I realize I may be a bit too traditional, but when you say you’re going to meet someone, you’ve made a promise. You’ve obligated yourself, for better or for worse, to the intention of your words. So, to simply not show up is such a black mark on your character… it’s essentially telling the other person, “Not only can I not be relied on, but I don’t even care about people enough to respect their time and spare their feelings.”
I WILL say this, though. If you’re GOING to be stood up – the place to do it is the Tasting Room at CityCentre, Houston. Here’s how it went down:
My deliciously adorable bartender, Cody (who’s now practically my BFF…ok, he doesn’t know that, hey… … I’ll wear him down in time… but, I’m getting ahead of myself) – Cody chatted me up while I waited and talked about the unfortunate woes of online dating. He poured me some pity wine and then handed me over to the equally charming Angel (yes…that’s his name. No he’s not literally an angel. Though… he DID keep pouring me wine and calling me “Preciosa,” so… not really that far off I suppose) who took care of me for a while after that. Between these two graciously urbane (and did I mention handsome? and funny?) men tag-teaming, I had ample conversation partners – undoubtedly more interesting than my would-be date, and I made friends to keep! Also, because I followed my own rule about the date being ‘drinks only,’ I wasn’t forced to sit all alone at a table for 2 – I could perch myself at the bar with a lovely Chenin Blanc / Riesling blend and two of Houston’s sweetest guys keeping me company. Not a bad date after all.
When I finally did hear from McPromise-Breaker (hmmm…doesn’t flow like “McSmarmy”…I’ll work on it), he was apologetic, but not enough. I think the level of displayed remorse should be commensurate with the transgression and he seemed only mildly upset that he “wasn’t able to make it.” He said he “really did want to see me again,” and would I consider it? Once again, if I didn’t have hordes of followers around the world waiting with bated breath for every riveting post, I would have just said no. I’m not going to waste my time/anticipation/blind hope on someone who has proved unworthy of those things. But… for the sake of good literature (or… self-indulgent drivel… whichever you deem this), I said I would. Give him another chance, that is. He thanked me and said we’d talk about the details the next day.
This is like one of those questions on the SAT where you have to decipher the pattern and fill in the next number/shape/what-have-you. Can you figure out what happened next?
(in her best cheesy talk-show host voice) “That’s RIGHT! You’ve done it! You guessed correctly. She NEVER heard from him again. Step right this way to claim your fabulous prize!”
Yup. Nada. Nunca.
What GIVES? If he knew he wasn’t going to try to make it work that second time, why even bother contacting me at ALL about the first-date faux pas? Maybe this guy gets off knowing he builds up hope only to disappoint…? Is that a THING? I’ll need to check my DSM-IV to be sure…
In any event… you now have a sampling of Houston jerkocity.
Perhaps instead of continuing to hope that “the one” is still out there, I should just take up a life of daytime drinking, putting a seed of bitterness in my children and obscene reclusivity? I’ve got quite a collection of pajamas that need wearing and I’m WAY behind on my Sudoku puzzles. Does anyone know of a good deal on cats?
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.
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.
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?
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.
Let me tell you about a recent date.
Or, as it should more aptly be called – an epic disappointment.
Let me set the scene.
This is a guy who came out swingin’.
He’s VERY funny.
And y’all know – that’s my jam.
It’s probably THE most attractive quality in a guy (to me), so this guy – (let’s call him “Brian”), was “in” right from the get-go.
Let me give you an example of his sense of humor.
We’d been chatting online for a while, and I’d given him my number.
Then, this popped up on my phone one day out of the blue:
Things continued like this for a while – witty banter and all that. Swoon… Right?
Then, the other day, he texted to see if I wanted to hang out. He said his buddy had a table at a nightclub for his birthday and he wanted me to join them. We texted back and forth a bit about details… I was hesitant, because the whole nightclub thing isn’t really my scene – even though I LOVE to dance and shake what my momma gave me…
Anyway, finally he called and we talked and he convinced me to come. He was so sweet! He said it was gonna mostly be guys and (I’d thought I might be hanging with a girlfriend that night…wasn’t sure yet) I was welcome to bring my friend(s) with me.
So – I went outside my comfort zone and said yes. Eeek!
No grabbing a drink first to get to know him a little better before going to a noisy club.
Nope – just right into the “ntz-ntz-ntz” of Houston’s nightlife with a cute boy as my lure.
It was then that I discovered, I have no idea what one wears to a club! I mean, I go salsa dancing and country dancing all the time, but that’s different. I knew this crowd would be young and skinny and hip (so hip, in fact, that they would probably die before using the word “hip”) and I wanted to fit in without coming across like I was trying too hard. Knowing what I know now, I went the wrong direction. Hindsight is 36/24/36.
But, …I was naive. So – I wore skinny jeans, heels, a black sleeveless top and a smoky eye. (See picture below) If you’re wondering why I’m telling you all this, it’s for two reasons. One – I want to set the stage for you – that I was OUTSIDE my comfort zone, but trying my darndest to be daring and bold and embrace the spontaneity – all for the sake of that great search for love. Two – since I write a blog about dating and I talk as if I know a thing or two, I figure it’s only fair to admit that I’m no different from anyone else – I have no clue what I’m doing! And I have insecurities and areas of ignorance just like everyone else!! Put me in a jazzy cafe with wine and cheese and I can charm the socks off of you with my stimulating and clever conversation, but meet me at 11:00 at a thumping nightclub packed with perfect-bodied 26-year olds, and I’m a little thrown…
Ok – so – here’s me breaking it down with a girlfriend I forced to come with me…
I think we’re adorable.
And – we DID have fun. I danced my TAIL off for hours. But…that’s not the point of the story. Let’s get back to Brian.
Brian was late. In his defense, he called me to tell me – and again, was very sweet and charming. He wanted to make sure we didn’t get there before him and then wonder where they were. Thoughtful, right? He gave me the name to use to get in (OH SO Sex-in-the-City) and my girlfriends and I decided to go ahead and get our dance on while we waited.
We arrived, paid the ridiculous fee to park in some crappy gravel lot across from the club, trounced through the grit with our heels and finally arrived at the velvet-roped entrance, only to discover that we were sorely underdressed. So, naturally – my level of nervousness plummeted another floor down. Greeting us at the door were men in sport coats and the most perfectly (and medically) sculpted woman in the shortest, reddest, tightest dress I’ve ever laid my judgmental eyes on. And they were just the beginning. The inside of this place was filled with the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen. It was like People magazine exploded into a room pulsing with sound and light. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, well-dressed men and exquisitely manufactured women in the sparkliest dresses.
I’m pretty sure I was the only female in the room with only her God-given parts,
sans botox/extensions/implants/tucks/plastys and the like. But they all sure were glorious to look upon. The people I encounter when I go salsa dancing or 2-stepping are real people, out to have fun dancing. THESE people were like living mannequins and models parading their goods to sell to the highest bidder.
So – 11:00 turned into 11:30….turned into almost midnight before Brian arrived. And when he finally texted me that he was there, I assumed he’d come find me on the dance floor and greet me, show me to their table, etc. But no. I had to go hunt him down (always an ego boost), and when I found him (or rather, we sorta bumped into each other and then hugged),
he looked NOTHING like his profile photos OR the pictures he had JUST THAT DAY sent me on my phone.
He was considerably …um… more plentiful?… than his pictures had led me to believe.
So I had to put on a “yay! So happy to finally meet you!” face over-top of my more authentic “good glory, this guy’s a total fraud” thought crawler.
Now, I know some of you may be thinking – “isn’t that awfully hypocritical of you, Sarah? You’re imperfect and curvy. How can you expect a guy to be a chiseled demi-god when you’re so far from that yourself?” Well – maybe you weren’t thinking those exact words, but still – I hear your inner interrogation…I hear you and I raise you my answer.
Here’s the difference: I market myself AS I AM.
I put photos up that are recent and I include full-body shots to show the men on those sites what they’d be getting themselves into…
What they see is a true representation of how I look – flaws and all.
THIS guy was deceptive. He purposely duped me – and it left me feeling annoyed – almost angry – at the bait and switch. And the saddest part is (well – the saddest part up until THIS point in the story) – if he had shown me pictures of himself as he is right now – I still would’ve gone out with him. I still find him attractive! It’s his witty personality that grabbed me in the first place, and he’s got a great smile. So WHAT if he’s got a little cushioning – birds of a feather, right? But – he lied. It’s the false advertising that makes me so indignant.
Still… I was already there, I’d already ventured into the unknown and underdressed, so I wanted to spend some time with him…
you know… to preach the gospel of kale and other superfoods…
(oh, settle – I’m just teasing).
I wanted to either grab a drink or dance or sit and chat, but he was looking for a buddy and told me he’d come find me in a minute. So – I went back to the dance floor to get my shake on.
45 minutes later…
(yes – you read that correctly)
FORTY-FIVE friggin’ minutes later… I was getting peeved that I hadn’t seen any sign of him. I thought maybe because the place was so packed, he couldn’t find me. (I know, I know… I’m so naive…) So, I (once again), went looking for him. When I found him, he was being trailed by some 20-something smoking hot girl who’s body could only have been crafted by a team of specialists. There do not exist, in nature, breasts like those on a frame that skinny. I’m relatively certain she had some of her less-essential organs removed to get the full barbie ‘look’ she was sporting under her Oscar de la Renta knock-off.
WHAT? Who IS this girl? I stopped him and said, in my best “I’m just flirty and cool and zen and not at ALL annoyed that you’re ignoring me even though YOU asked ME to come tonight” voice, “Hey you! Come dance with me!” He muttered something about “in a minute…” while the eye candy behind him snickered and literally rolled her eyes. Again… WHAT? Who IS this girl? Is she some kind of club groupie? Is she part of some harem that I’ll eventually be asked to join (after multiple surgeries to completely alter my form)?
So – I went back to the dance floor. Again.
I danced for another 45 minutes and decided to leave. I texted him, “Gettin’ ready to leave…”
I heard nothing back.
As in – not then. Not later that night. Not the next morning or at all the next day. Not all weekend… nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Like I was never even there.
Like he’d never even asked me – multiple times.
Like we’d never texted AND talked multiple times.
So – this is my life now. I try to be edgy and enter into unfamiliar territory, for the sake of the cause… and I get too-many-burgers-jerk-store-special.
You’d think, at the very least, he’d validate my parking…
I’ll now be accepting suggestions for a well-composed, pithy yet snarky text to send to this guy in the coming week. Something that says, “you’re a jerk,” and “you missed out,” and “what happened?” and “no, seriously – what happened?” all in a neat little package with a “Bazinga” finish. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? After culling through the hundreds of entries I’m sure to receive, I’ll be awarding two prizes (I can’t say what the prizes are (because I haven’t thought of something creative enough yet)) – one for the best quip to ACTUALLY send, and one for the the zinger that makes me laugh the most.
I’ve heard it said that women have it ‘easier’ in the world of online dating – because all they have to do is post a remotely pretty photo and men will come flocking.
Studies show (and yes, I actually have documentation to back this up – I’m not “that girl” who just throws out the “studies show” or “they say” or “experts agree” unless I have sufficient back-up) that women get flirted with or messaged at an extremely higher rate than the other way around. Men send the messages while women just sit back and let the love roll in.
I agree that men have to do more “work” than women on the FRONT end. But I’m here to tell you what things look like on the other side. Yes, men have to be virtually gods to get some online attention. I have a guy friend who’s handsome, insanely witty, and whose profile is that perfect mix of clever/unique and also shows that he can be a warm, romantic partner..and he almost never gets messages or “winks”…it’s crazy. And then I sit down to my computer and have at LEAST 50 messages a day on any given site I’m on. Here are the numbers for today…just to give you a picture:
Sounds great (for me), right? Well…let’s not get cray cray…allow me to dig a little deeper.
You know when your fill-in-the-blank-female-family-member makes you a “beautiful” needle-point work of art – if you look at the backside, it’s all KINDS of a mess? That’s what it’s like to be a woman trudging through online dating sites. It might seem so easy – just put up a photo and wait for the masses to come knocking on your proverbial door, but oh-ho-ho…. let’s take a look at who it is who’s coming a-knocking.
There are a few archetypes of messages I receive from men. For easy math, let’s assume I receive 100 messages a day. It’s possible, but not a sure bet that ONE of those will be remotely interesting/complimentary/clever enough to spark my interest. The other 99 are one of the following:
1. Flat out boring. These are the ones that make you want to reclaim that 1/2 second you lost by clicking on the message to begin with. They say things like:
And that’s being kind – because I’ve spelled everything correctly and used punctuation appropriately…
And now I’m asleep.
2. Full of cheesy come-on lines.
What’s that you say? You want some examples? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
If I were to be present in heaven… as in…dead?
And – “common many angels?”… I mean… comMON man!
It appears I’m popular among the angelic crowd.
3. Don’t take the hint, resulting in flooding your inbox with multiple unwanted communications.
Dude…if I didn’t write you back 11 days ago, or 9 days ago, or anything between then and now…it’s time to walk away.
(and if you’re reading this thinking that it’s cruel to not write back to all of these guys, let he who hath not 100’s of inane messages cast the first critical online dating stone.)
4. Stupid. Stupidity comes in various forms. It ranges from the grammatical/spelling mistakes to the idiotic or non-sequitur thoughts that end up making me roll my eyes (at the very least), insulting me (see below), or cause me to shake my head in despair at humanity’s descent into moronitude (go with it).
I don’t even know what he MEANT to say. But – doesn’t matter. He had me at “ho.”
For the last time – I am only ONE woman. Do you know how emotionally taxing it is to take on the responsibilities of beautyful women everywhere?
Luckily between the last blog post and now, I found an app for my iPhone that translates stupid. So – what I THINK he means is:
“The basics in your profile nominally interest me enough to write this lazy and flawed message to ‘say hi’.”
You would imagine I have a personality? Yes. I have one. I should totes shoot you me number.
Proofread, honey. I’m a woman, last I checked.
So – while men may have to do a little more leg-work on the front end of the game, we women (well – the beautiful, charismatic and ridiculously witty ones like myself) have to sift through a LOT of trash in search of eventual treasure.
The sheer herculean task of dumpster diving through the well of vapidity should earn me SOMEthing…right?
Culling through these messages (and yes – I read every one. After all – once in a while you’ll find a gem. Right? (Say right.) And if I were to miss that ONE amazing guy because of the 99 other cholos blowin’ up my inbox – what a travesty THAT would be!) is practically like having another part-time job. Not only does it take up time, but it exhausts my mental faculties. I should really get paid for this. I’m providing a service, if you think about it. When guys don’t get messages back, I’m CERTAIN they take a good long look at their approach and reflect on why it didn’t work and learn from it – I’m basically an online dating philanthropist. I mean, I don’t want to be painted with a “hero” brush, but…
I’m KINDA a hero.
But I’m also a relational baller on a budget, so – anyone who wants to pony up and help a sista out… I’ll be opening a PayPal account for these and other sassy services I provide. There will be varying levels of sponsorship – you can subsidize my online dating sites’ subscription fees – think of it as a comedic investment. You’d be like my platinum-level gigolo. You throw down the cizzash, and I’ll bring in the laughs. And why stop there? Now that this is a full-on Business, not only memberships/subscriptions, but date costs become company write-offs. This could really work out for me. If my date pays, and I keep the receipts for a tax deduction, I’ll actually come out ahead. Financially, that is. Morally, it’s likely a step back.
But, I’m ok with that. All’s fair in love and laughter, right?
So – step up, lovers of love – and help better the world one unrequited message at a time. And remember what we’ve learned today – women don’t have it easier at all. I dare say our ‘job’ is the harder of the two. It’s a difficult life being an amazing woman. But someone’s gotta do it, so…I’ll man up.
(I’d like to thank my friend Sean for helping me come up with this
devious shady masterful plan.)
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…
A few people have criticized me for being in the world of online dating… saying that it’s a lost cause/dead end. And a few thoughts go through my mind. First – do you think that’s all I’m doing in my search for love? C’mon… But, secondly – why is the online dating scene such a dead end, when it’s at LEAST one step up from bar hopping? I mean, at least with online sites, I’m able to filter potential partners with some of my desired traits, right?
So…where do you GO to look for love? This is one of THE questions for us on the single scene. And if you ask around, you’ll get LOTS of opinions. Almost all of those from married or ‘taken’ friends. The same ones who apparently have NO single friends left to set you up with…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I guess when choosing your “pool,” you have to consider your end-game goal. So, for instance, I know I want a guy who has a real faith in God, so… where would be the logical place to meet him? That’s right –
– Church. This is what EVERYONE tells me. “Go to church. You’ll meet a good man there.” (you should’ve read that in a grandmotherly, yet slightly condescending tone).
But this is easier said than done!
Look – I already GO to church every week. It’s important, no – central to me – to be part of a faith community. And, no, I do not go to church to hunt for men. But, I do welcome the opportunity to find a great guy in this venue. The problem is…how? I mean..what’s the protocol here? Am I supposed to hand out my number during the greeting time? Can we set up a margarita bar in the lobby? Perhaps we can have a mid-week dinner, Bible Study and speed dating event? (and I am SO not kidding. I would go to this…let the record so reflect).
So, if church isn’t panning out, what are my other other options?
– Set-ups by mutual friends who know you well? Awesome idea. For me… this has happened ONCE. Yup. I’m one of the friendliest people I know, and yet – none of my friends know of anyone to match me up with. I don’t know if this is because they just don’t interface with single men my age? Or if they know how neurotically picky I am and don’t dare unleash me on anyone they care about? Either way… the magic isn’t happening…
– The bar scene. Everyone refers to this as if it’s an actual place. I should open a bar and call it “The Bar Scene.” Or maybe it’s more of a philosophical archetype?… I digress… People are constantly saying they don’t want to meet the “kind of people” you meet at bars. Really? I mean… if I’M a quality single woman and I go to bars… then, doesn’t it stand to reason that I may have a male counterpart out there who does also? Perhaps I should clarify the kind of ‘bars’ I’m talking about… I think people must picture me walking into some saloon-esque dive in the seediest part of town where the only people there are the unbathed guys who’ve been drinking since 10:00am, some rogue gang members and meth-heads, and me – slamming my entitled fist on the bar while demanding, “gimme the hard stuff! Line ‘em up and keep ‘em comin’!”… Unless you call a wine flight in Upper Kirby the ‘seedy’ part of town, that’s not my thing. No, I’m talking about wine bars or Happy Hour at the tons of fun restaurants Houston offers up, or the dance club/bars where I salsa or 2-step. Why is it so doubtful that there could be any good guys here?
And yet… I haven’t found any.
– Happenstance meetings. This is the way it works in romantic comedies, right? Two people shopping in the produce section… a chance tumbling of a red pepper, he hands it to her, she blushes…. Cut to: video montage of their love story set to a Taylor Swift song. This sounds lovely. But, guess what… even at Club Kroger (which is the name I’ve affectionately assigned to the Kroger in the Heights – because it is always teeming with handsome single men), this never happens. I have even taken the first step and started up light conversation with men. Last week I had to hunt forever to find ripe avocados, so when I saw a cute preppy guy (who, I could just TELL loved Jesus…) looking in vain for a ripe one, I said, “uh oh, I think I got all the good ones…sorry. But, hey, guacamole calls…” He smiled, shrugged, and then went on his merry way. Sigh…
I am always ready for my cinematically promised run-in… wherever I go. And, I’m not shy. I will give my card to someone if we strike up a conversation… but I can’t do this alone…the men have to participate!
– Speed Dating or Singles “Events.” Ok, again… RomComs have done us WrongCom. You remember that scene in Hitch at the end where the two women are speed dating? There’s a plethora of handsome, well-dressed, well-spoken men there – a veritable smorgasbord of dating opportunity. Wanna know what that looks like in the real world? I’ll tell you.
Last weekend, I dragged one of my single girlfriends to a speed dating mixer event (admittedly I bought my ticket through Living Social… no way I’m shelling out $35 for what could possibly be an hour of disaster or disappointment).
We got there (it was held at a nice tapas restaurant in MidTown) and filled out the paperwork, got a drink and soon were off and running. All the women sat at numbered tables in a line and the men sat across from us, each with our papers to write notes, indicate which ones we liked, etc. (I’ve scanned mine for your vicarious entertainment). Each man stayed for 5 minutes and then they’d switch and move to the next woman.
I will tell you this – I was on fire. I was witty, friendly, charismatic without being intimidating… I flashed my winning smile at the bevvy of lame jokes I heard. I answered the boring questions with grace. I even listened with rapt attention as one guy went into an unfortunate level of detail about his recent toe surgery. “I mean…it was really gross. They had to go back in because the infection was so deep….” (I’ll spare you the rest). But, really? He had FIVE. MINUTES. Five minutes!! And he spent at least 2.25 on the toe surgery…yum.
The problem was that the majority of the men there didn’t speak English as their first language (I’m putting this mildly…you can ask my friend…). A few were even new to the country. Everyone was friendly, but I felt like I was giving immigration interviews, not searching for the perfect romantic partner.
But…there was one guy. Let’s put it this way: a divinely appointed sunbeam might as well have shined on him as all the women in the room heard the angelic chorus, “Aaaaah…” He was handsome, intelligent, funny, well-traveled, had a good job and was a great conversationalist. He was also the object of attention from every woman there. When he came to my “station,” we exchanged witty banter, we laughed, connected, …it was dreamy (of COURSE I’m exaggerating a little bit…it’s more amusing that way). Afterwards, he sat across from my friend and I and we talked some more, he asked for my card, …things were going great. Until I dropped two bombs on him. I can’t be sure which one was the final blow – that made the light in his eyes snuff out – the fact that I have kids, or the fact that I’m “religious.” I think he visibly rolled his eyes when I mentioned that one… You know that moment when you can hear the record scratching followed by a disillusioned “womp womp womp…?” Yeah….
So, he quickly changed his strategy and struck up conversation with the pretty girl at the table next to us, practically stretching his body in front of us to get her attention. We took the cue and left.
The lady in charge told us that we’d hear from anyone who marked on their sheets that they were interested. You know how many I heard from? Zero.
And that brings me back to online dating.
Is it really so crazy that I’d look for a man in a place that’s full of men – where they’ve already given me more information than I can get at ANY of the above spots? Before I ever interact with a guy, I already know if he can use proper punctuation, what he deems significant enough to put in his profile, his age, what part of town he lives in, his spiritual preferences, and how he looks. Seems like a decent starting point to me…?