Summer Lovin’

“Summer loving had me a blast…Summer loving happened so fast…”grease_l-4

John Travolta was never so wrong.

Summer used to be the time for first dates, flings, blossoming romance and at least a few months of ‘getting to know you’ dates, dinners, hikes and smooches. Long days, hours of sun and defrosted loins seemed to swarm the city and offer us singletons new hope. It was, in short, a blast.

But lately summer just seems to bring out the hermits, the hostile divorcees and the downright strange. And it’s not just me who has noticed the shitshow that summer dating has become. My single girlfriends are all experiencing a summer of strangeness; flakes, fuck-boys and stage five clingers.

To those happily partnered, let me explain.

Flakes: These charmers jump in, express interest in meeting you then once you accept, just disappear. Having gotten over the hurdle of getting a date.. they just don’t seem to want to make it happen. Flakes fade out faster than your iPhone battery but with far less notice.  The consensus is that flakes don’t actually want to date. They just like the positive thrill of flirting, finding evidence of their attractiveness or creating a ‘black book’ that they’ll never open.  I presume most flakes are already attached, drunk texting or suddenly find me hideous, but mainly I assume they’re just rude.

“John” told me how amazing I was, asked for my phone number , texted me about how he’d love to meet me and how much fun we would have. I finally agreed to a date and then I never heard from him again. Multiple by 20 and that was June.

Fuckboys: Self explanatory really. Guys who are “down for whatever” as long as whatever means sex, straight up, no strings and nothing else. Usually accompanied by a ‘not looking for anything serious, but you never know’, these guys offer up the potential for something in exchange for some humpty.. followed by yawning silence. Where the fuckboy excels is popping up 4, 6, 12 months later, to apologize, seduce and repeat. Great if you just want to get laid, but don’t wait around for a second date; he’s already on his, and it’s not with you.

“Chris” disappeared for a year after our first “date”. He reappeared full of apologies to schedule a “real date” (you know with food and conversation), which I finally agreed to despite misgivings. He left the house after some humpty and then disappeared for 2 years. I headed to therapy with some serious questions over my appeal. Cue year 4, and Chris reappeared proclaiming love. Not surprising, 3 weeks later, he apparently died because I’ve never heard or seen him since. My first, and last, fuckboy.

Stage Five Clingers: After 5 years of dating, I really thought a clinger might be nice. You know, someone who actually wanted to see me. Someone who planned dates, called all the time and seemed to have endless time for me. WARNING- this may be a Stage Five clinger in disguise as ‘normal guy who just thinks I’m awesome’. Be aware, these folks walk right up to the edge of claustrophobic and fall headfirst into stalker territory veeeeery fast.  Expect Facebook, LinkedIn, Insta stalking, back to back texts asking why you’re not responding and then hear about “your” plans for the weekend. All in the first month.

“Bob” was an ok first date and mellowed into a charming second date. I gotta admit, I was sorta excited. Sure, the selfies, morning, noon and night were a little intense, but hey, he was a ‘communicative guy’. But when he started planning “our summer” after our 4th date, and started talkng about ‘believing in me’ and I realized I had a Stage Five Clinger. There’s nice and eager.. and then there’s just.too.much.  After I broke it off, he left a rose on my doorstep and continued to text me support. I put 911 on speed-dial.

And I’m suing John Travolta.

The dating resume

I’m not kidding. The dating resume is a thing. I’ve seen several posted on men’s profile general-resume-11pages. Dating has officially become as difficult as landing that job you want.

There are also a few guys I wish had written and posted them before the actual date… but that’s another story.

Back to the resume. I always assumed resumes were about work, but since first dates increasingly feel like interviews, I guess it was only a matter of time before I was reading some guy’s “Relationship Goal” and checking out his ‘Special skills’. It was pretty helpful to read about his relationship history (like an actual resume, its always the short tenure or long gaps between that generate the most questions for me.

“Susie: April – July 2010. Casual ” Hmm. Wonder if she had the ‘where is this going?” conversation too soon? Maybe she didn’t like oral or maybe he got dumped for continuing to Tinder? I’ll never know and really, do I need to?? Honestly the only one which matters is “Lisa: Aug 2010 – Present. Married”.

Special skills always seems to be an interesting one. I’ve seen actual skills (‘carpentry, cycling, investing’). fun skills (‘Arson level campfire starter’, accomplished bullshitter’) and then the downright weird (‘my hands are so big I can lift a 2 year old on just one’ – #whydoyouknowthis). My favorite one was a guy who’d actually created the image of slider rules to indicate his proficiency in areas such as ‘fashion’ ‘help you find your keys’ and ‘sexy time’ (ranked from -5 to +5). Funnily enough he ranked himself 4.5 on the sexy time. #biasedreview

My absolute favorite though was the guy who created a pie chart to show how he spent his time. Honestly… genius. Segments included ‘fixing things I should have left alone’ ‘trying new things’ and ‘not enjoying new things I’m trying’. Now that’s a guy I can get on board with.

I don’t think I’m quite at the stage of writing a resume for dating yet (too busy fighting the #bitchesbecrazy stereotype), but it did give me pause.

When your special skills include walking in excruciating shoes, showing up 15 minutes early to everything (and then judging you for being on time), and forgetting everything you ever said instantly after a glass of wine.. its probably best to get that out in front.

 

 

 

The fishing is kind of ..swampy…

swampNow that I’ve changed the options on my dating profile to include leftovers dudes up to 55, I have to admit, my options seem to have increase 10 fold. The number of winks, likes, emails and stalkers is currently up into triple digits and while I’m going to wait a while until I venture out with another 50 something for a first date (I need to recoup some dignity after being ignored for a Pirates game), here’s a choice select of the options currently rotating through my ‘Viewed Me’ list. Got to say, the pool might be bigger.. but it’s certainly filled with ‘interesting’ fish.

Urbansoldier77

Now lets not judge. I am sure Urbansoldier77  is more than just a gun-toting NRA member. Sure, his 23 photos do feature him in various hunting attire, armed with multiple firearms (including something that looks like a prop from The Expendables) And yes, he does seem very proud to showcase his dead animal collection, but I think there’s more to this guy. I mean I’m a little nervous about the snake tattoo that wraps from his wrist up to his neck, complete with dagger and dripping blood, but maybe its a Asian art thing? His arms do look a little  ‘roidish’ but he claims that if ‘you can’t stand the pathetic sight of your boyfriend squirming and straining to get the jar open’ he’s the guy for me. Now I’ve been chief jar opener in my house for the last ummm 28 years, so I’m thinking ‘no’ but ‘thanks’. He likes to adventure down a trail, kayak, workout (clearly) and …play wheelchair rugby?. ….. oh. So I guess that explains the arms then. Suddenly all that gun-toting and hunting takes on a whole new element. How does one hunt in a wheelchair? I mean… I am seriously impressed and depressed. You really must want to kill things to get yourself up at 3am and wheel yourself down a deer trail to kill Bambi. I’m not sure that’s a passion I really can’t get my head around.

Doss std

Now I don’t think that ‘Doss’ really checked out his profile name, but putting aside the venereal disease associations, I decided anyone with such a ballsy name had to have something going for them. After all he gave me several likes and sent me an email. Lets have a look. So Dos is 54 and a widower, (awesome – someone loved him once), loves gardening (don’t we all), carries a few extra pounds…(not ideal but…), is 5 ft 0″ (wowser) and “is 75% handicapped”. Oh.  WTF with the handicapped dudes and my profile??? Do they NOT see the cycling photos? The backpacking photos? My expressed love of hiking? I’m sorry Dos.. you might be awesome (even though you state that you have ‘few friends’), but you didn’t even promise to open my jars. I think I’m leaning towards Urbansoldier on this one.

Rexclambake

Rex, I have to say, is a good looking dude. In a sort of rugged, beardy, “I’m off to hike the Himalayas next week” way. He’s 47 and never been married (hmmm issues?), but he is 6 ft 5 and no wheelchair in any photos. Now apparently he ‘makes a fantastic pea soup’ which makes me a little nervous .. does Rex considers soup a big attractor for woman? If that’s his big ‘in’ then I’m gonna have to go with ‘pass’. I mean, I make a pretty good pea soup myself. But hey, lets give the guy a chance. ‘I like to get lost in new cities’ (don’t you have Google, Rex?), and ‘can wander for days’ (seriously dude, Google maps…). Rex is also… oh.. ‘a Fire Captain with the Antarctic Fire Department’. So not so much ‘based in Denver’ as ‘checking out Denver from 13,000 miles away. Now Rex, I’m thrilled that you think I’m a winner, but even I have my limits on long distance relationships. And 13,000 miles might be it.

Paganbeast57

I am not kidding. A man decided to call himself Pagan beast online and email me a note saying ‘What do you think?’. O-kaaaaay. Lets see what’s on offer. No photo (bummer) but his headline is ‘Sunset surprises and full moon fantasties (sp)’ Seems Pagan beast is making up for his lack of spelling with some lunar driven imagination. Why I’m suddenly thinking about hairy men and bonfires is beside the point.. maybe there’s something else? Except there isn’t. Pagan beast’s entire profile is this:

.And.

Wowser. That’s some Buddhist shit right there. It’s so everything and nothing. All encompassing and yet telling me absolutely nothing about him. WTF dude? Who responds to this shit????? Sorry Pagan Beast. You might eclipse (geddit?) all other men, but I can’t realistically respond to “.And.”

So you’ve dipped your toe into my over 50 dating pool. The water’s kind of funky no? 2 guys in wheelchairs, a dude in the Antarctic and a Pagan weirdo. I think I’m gonna wait around a while until the scum clears and I can actually see some kind of fish before heading out on date #2 of the fall. Until then all I’m reeling in is tin cans.

Dating the ‘Separated’

separatedOver the years’ I’ve broadened my dating pool out of a combination of curiosity, necessity, and lately, by chancing upon dudes who lie compulsively.

Lying you say?

Yes, I know. Lying isn’t exactly new to online dating. Between myself and my pool of single chicas we’ve all encountered chubsters, baldies, dwarfs, a guy in a wheelchair, a AARP member and yes, even people who have used someone elses photo entirely. ‘Fit’ has been interpreted to be mean ‘possesses some Nikes’ and ‘fixes the photocopier’ becomes ‘IT engineer’. I know women do it too.. but the type of lying I’m stumbling on lately is more along the lines of marital status.

While your newly separated woman is off at the gym, forging new female friendships and Facebooking her old college boyfriend, her counterpart is online, announced his instant ‘divorce’. He’s not separated… he’s mentally divorced. So that makes him so.

(in which case, I am 5 ft 6 and have naturally blond hair)

I’ve learnt that ‘divorced’ to a guy can mean anything from ‘I got the papers last year but haven’t gotten around to signing them’ to ‘she moved out last week’ . He might still be living with his wife and kids ‘but its been over for years’ (does she know?).  He might actually be living apart from his wife but ‘hasn’t had time to meet with a lawyer’ or ‘filed the paperwork months ago’ (90 days people.. it only takes 90 days). He might be hesitant to actually be divorced due to ‘tax implications’ or ‘business reasons’. Or, like many, he might have discussed divorce that one night when they drank 2 bottles of Chardonnay but he’s still going to bed with his wife every night. So sorry buddy, but you’re not divorced.  Hell, you’re not even separated.

Now I don’t have an issue with dating someone who’s newly divorced. I’ve been there. I know it’s a weird time and everyone thinks they’re handling it great, but is actually acting like a horny 18-year-old. But there’s a good reason that they include ‘separated’ on the dating form… one which the newly, or less newly separately seem oblivious to.

Being newly separated means you’re ‘undateable’. No, not because you’re still technically married.. or still in love with your wife… but because you’re not equipped to go on a date period. The newly separated guy has no IDEA of how to date.. and beware anyone who thinks ‘how bad can it be?’ or ‘he said its been over for years’.

It’s not his lack of emotional availability that you need to worry about. Indeed, it’s quite the converse. Frankly, the recently or newly separated man is terrifyingly available.

Let me explain.

If you date online after the age of 40, with someone who’s been divorced – say 6 months – it goes like this;

  1. Day 1 – 5: Email exchanges. Identification of shared interests, humorous asides and general ‘are you sane?’ questions.
  2. Day 5-7: Phone call or coffee. Verbal confirmation of sanity, ability to converse etc
  3. Day 7-10: Dinner. Contingent on good first date/ call.
  4. Day 11 : Dinner, sex, hiking, whatever…Contingent on good dinner date and level of comfort. Also depends on whether you think you could take him in a fight … you know, should the need arise.

But if you go on a date with someone who’s separated it goes like this;

  1. Day 1: Email exchanges  ~21 emails in a single day.  All escalating in excitement, identification of kinship and plans for ‘the future’. You hear all about his kids, his job, his life, how ‘ok’ he is, how ‘he’s done the work’, how he just wants to have fun.. and then a comprehensive list of how damn awesome you are. You level of awesomeness increases by the hour. In fact, by Day 2, he’s convinced of your connection and your compatibility. Actually… he might be falling for you.
  2. Day 2 or 3: Phone call or coffee. He declares his love. Detailed review of the agenda for the next 3 weeks of your life. Activities will include, but are not limited to, running errands, picking up and dropping off of kids, cooking at his house, every activity he’s ever done and wants to share with you, detailed list of bands/shows/plays he has tickets for but no date now, weekends he wants to take and friends I need to meet. Like right now. Oh and he booked flights to San Francisco for Thanksgiving. Hope that’s ok?
  3. Day 4. There is no Day 4. This is where you block his/ her profile and run screaming from the man who is clearly not ready to date, has the judgement of a 12-year-old boy and finds the empty side of the bed all too frightening and a ‘to do’ to fill.

You see ‘the separated’, as they reenter the dating pool, are essentially looking for one of three things;

a) A replacement wife. Like now. Because looking after kids 50% of the time is really hard and .. you know.. he needs help. And he’s used to a partner. He doesn’t like those empty spaces or empty silences. He remembers how awesome it used to be with a wife around… and women like being married right? Time to find a new one STAT.

b) Instant sex partner. Excited at the potential after sleeping with the same person for 20+ years, he wants to jump past all the getting to know you, spending time together and just fall in love right now and FUCK. Which wouldn’t be that terrible, if he didn’t insist on assuming you like EXACTLY what his wife liked.

c) Free therapy. He is traumatized. He is hurt. He is angry. And he wants to tell someone all about it and see a sympathetic face. Feel understood. Get the ok to move on. But therapy is expensive and you, you’re free!!! And willing to sit and listen to him!!!

And while people who are separated, especially the newly separated, need love just like the rest of us, they tend to be mentally, at the place they last left off dating.

  1. If your date married his high school or college sweetheart, beware. He’s got a lot of catching up to do, has no idea of how to seduce or romance a woman, and isn’t quite clear why you’re not as eager as he is to fumble around in the back seat of his car as ‘a date’. And unless he’s a compulsive cheater, he’s probably only slept with one or two women. Cross your fingers and hope they taught him a few things.
  2. If your new date last ‘courted’ in his early 20s, say hello to a lot of drinking, live music, sex in public places and assumptions that you’ll drop everything to move around his schedule. This guy thinks that skateboarding is a great idea for a date, and that you’ll be impressed by his swimming pool cannonballs.
  3. If he last dated in his 30s, he’s more likely to understand that a degree of ‘woo-ing’ is necessary, but he’s just jaded enough to resent you for it. This guy probably hates his wife, HATES his wife.. and boy he’s just dying to air his grievances.
  4. If he last dated in his 40s… hmmmm. Did he kill his wife?

But what of the long-term separated? Those who’s been living separate lives for years and haven’t yet pulled the plug?  Surely they’re as good as divorced right?

No. They’re still technically married. And if they’re still married after being separated for months or years, you need to ask the questions as to why. If there are young kids involved, I get it, but if not.. what’s the hold up? There’s something there. And whatever it is – its complicated, it’s not changing any time soon and really.. do you need to start dating a married man? Who still has his wife on the insurance documents? Who still -legally- has his wife as #1 on his list, even if mentally he’s moved on? That’s some heavy shit …and this is dating. So unless he has a golden penis or he’s really honestly the best person you’ve ever met in your life… move on.

They put ‘separated’ on the online profiles as a clear signal to the rest of us. Date warily. Lower your expectations. Be prepared to have some very honest conversations and offer not a small amount of coaching. Enter at your own risk, and be prepared for premature  declarations of love, lots of processing his prior relationship and no small measure of insanity.

You have been warned.

 

Questions.. questions….

QuestionsAfter the last round of doofus’s from match.com left me wondering if I really should just stop even hoping for a boyfriend before my Golden Girls years and investigate lesbianism in the meantime (never mind my fear of boobs and other people’s lady bits) I took the advice of a male friend and signed myself up for OkCupid.

His rationale?

‘You’ve got a banging body and you’ll get action a lot faster’

he added,

‘plus if nothing else the ego trip will do you good’

He was not wrong.

To my single people over 40, brush aside your prejudices, you have nothing to lose but a little dignity. Plus its a whole other world of dating options.

You want a poly bi sexual male, age 38 with a PHD in organic chemistry and a penchant for BDSM? Oh he’s out there. Of course his profile doesn’t actually say that… but its all available in the most rudimentary form. Via questions.

OKCupid asks you question, after question, after question.

And not your ‘do you like watching sports’ generic crap. Oh nooooo. OkCupid narrows it down to everything from your thoughts on feet to your role in any upcoming BDSM scenarios.

Yes, some questions are patently ridiculous and not exactly critical for selecting a date…

‘Do you think women are obligated to shave their legs?’

and

‘Do you like roller-coasters?’

But a lot of the questions actually, weirdly make sense. They certainly help you short cut through the minefield of weirdness that is other people. Here’s a brief selection of the 500+ questions you can answer on OkCupid.

1. Which is bigger the sun or the moon? Intended to root out the retarded amongst the OKCupid population, this is a great starter question to make sure that any dude you even respond to, has the IQ to read your email.

2. How clean is your bathroom? Sort of makes sense. Especially after one guy I dated briefly last year… YIKES. Upon reflection, a photo of your sink should probably be mandatory on all dating sites.  Would have saved me a few weeks and a one huge gross out moment. If you can’t keep your sink clean, I dread to think that’s going on ‘below the equator’.

3. Could Evolution and Intelligence Design both be right? I LOVE that they ask this question. Totally weeds out the people I don’t even need to have a conversation with. Because while most sane people will agree in Evolution, when you offer up ‘Intelligent Design’ as a parallel option, all kinds of weirdness rises to the surface. Plus it saves me from every having the ‘chicken and egg’ discussion on a date. ever. again.

4. Do wild places such as mountains, rivers, forest and the ocean call out to you? Ok sounds sorta hippy, but living in Colorado, if they don’t, I’d have to question your sanity in choice of residence. Plus given my own Sport Billy tendencies, if you don’t like the mountains, its not even worth a cup of coffee because we’d never see each other. Like ever.

5. Do you talk to your pets? I honestly think this is a really good indicator on a bazillion levels. First off, you clearly need to have pets to answer, which weeds out those who are ‘dead inside’ or who can’t take any responsibility for anything other than themselves. Second of all, if you have a pet, who wouldn’t talk to it? It’s a living breathing thing.. even if it’s a hamster. And as a fellow animal, we all need a little conversation. Plus any guy who doesn’t have a conversation with his pet… well its just downright weird.

6. Should your mate also become your best friend? This one is a great way to identify how people feel about romantic partners. And there literally is NO right answer. Yes, we’d all want our mates to be the person to whom you tell everything and share everything. But is your mate ranked above all other FRIENDS?  Codependant? yes. Healthy? ummmmm. A great question to weed out any potential stalkers or shut ins.

7. Are you sexually attracted to inanimate objectives? Lord, I am so glad this question is in here. Weird as it might seem, they’re asking… because these people exist. And while I welcome all kinds of weirdness and wild activity into the bedroom, a stuffed animal, an inflatable sheep or a Dewalt drill are not welcome.

8. How was your childhood? With options ranging from ‘Wonderful’ to ‘Awful and I have emotional issues as a result’, this one is a real window into the person. To be honest, if I’d had asked this of my ex husband on date 1, I’d probably have saved 5 years. Which upon reflection is sort of sad and disturbing. Do I wish those 5 years had never happened?  Hell no. And do I really want to date someone who had a ‘Wonderful’ childhood. Who has a ‘Wonderful’ childhood? What kind of sick weirdo is this guy? See… these questions are DEEP man…

9. Receiving anal sexy? Well hang on now.. isn’t this kind of a question for like the 10th date? Seems sort of uncool to have that out there in public. And well.. I’m not sure how I feel about a) guys answering it period and b) I’m not sure I need to know before I’ve even said hello to a dude in person. Sort of takes the fun out of things??

10. Once you’re  intimate, how often would you and your partner have sex? Whoaaa. I really don’t need to know this much information about someone before I’ve met the guy. And I certainly couldn’t answer this question until I’d actually done the deed with the guy. What if it’s great initially but quickly gets boring? Any answer is going to be a stretch goal if it sucks.. plus what if it’s the best sex of your life, and you low ball you answer and the guy is intimidated by your presumed insatiable desire? This question makes me feel like I’m signing a contract with a guy I haven’t met yet. Sorry OkCupid, ‘pass’. having said that.. if any guy says weekly or monthly.. I’m passing on him too.

So, if you’d like to know everything about your date from his intelligence level, to his moral compass, his predilection for wearing diapers and whether he talks to his mother every day… join OkCupid. The TMI of online dating.

Date-A-Thon 2014

sex appealSince its summer and that’s my most energetic time of year, I decided to kick off ‘Date-A-thon 2014’ early. Hey maybe I could find myself a cute Jewish nerdy guy with a killer sex drive and a penchant for early mornings.. and enjoy him for the whole summer? You never know!

But just a few weeks after the kickoff off  ‘Date-A-Thon 2014’ I am cancelling the event, effective immediately.

Why?

Well the last few weeks of dating has been like a series of trips to IKEA. You really don’t want to go, you know it’s going to be a time suck that will leave you miserable and irritated BUT you’re really in need of something. In this case, someone to make out with before I hit 43 and potentially fight off some bears while camping this summer.

But like most trips to IKEA, the last few weeks have been ones I’d rather forget. True, I didn’t wind up with any random plastic ornaments or strangely named kitchen tools, but my hopes of ever referring to a fellow member of the human species as ‘my boyfriend’ or ‘loooover’ are pretty much in the toilet.

My first date was a complete surprise. Complete. A simple online chat about ‘plans for the this evening?’ resulted in a surprise showing from ‘smallhouse578’ at a local bar, uninvited and right in the middle of an entertaining cocktail hour with my girlfriend. Not only did the numbnut show up, walk up to us, say ‘Hi there’ and sit down next to us.. but since he didn’t ever tell me his name (on the site or in person), I was left confused as to who he was and how I knew him (or didn’t). My girlfriend and I exchanged confused glances, and she – thinking she was doing me a solid – decided to leave me to my impromptu date. I was left at the bar with a nameless guy who assumed that my chat meant ‘come date me’. Like, right now.

My British reserve and politeness lasted as long as it took for me to figure out who he was .. at which point I became a shouting American for the very first time. Wow it was sort of liberating to dress someone down for stalking, rudeness and all around creepy behavior .. even if I did have to head home immediately for a calming cup of tea. The cheek of the guy! WTF?

But, being British, after restocking my supplies of stiff upper lip, I headed off on another date a week later. 6 years my junior, Tim is a self-confessed ‘introvert’ with kinky tendencies and a love of mountain biking. I figured he’d be good to know.. one way or another.

From across the restaurant he looked cute (even if he was hiding behind his menu), so I plopped down in my seat and introduced myself. At which point I realized that my interpretation of ‘introverted’ and his interpretation where alarmingly different. Tim, who had seemed disarmingly keen in writing, was so introverted he was practically inside out.

My hopes of finally getting to date a younger guy vanished in a nano second when I realized the evening was going to be short, painful and involve me trying to coax some semblance of a conversation out of him via an excruciating game of 20 questions. I’ve heard of shy.. hell on a date I’m shy.. but this was ridiculous.

He spoke quietly, more of a murmur really, and could barely order himself a drink. I actually think it was one of the 3 things he said during the course of the date. (the others were – ‘I’m from Cleveland’ – and ‘I just want to ride’). James Joyce he was not.

At one point I felt like Letterman, trying to elicit  some kind of spark from a doped up celebrity… I tried asking the usual questions – nothing. In the absence of interest from him, I decided to share a little about myself – ‘maybe he’s more of a listener?’ but still nothing. At which point I decided to stop talking all together…’maybe he just needs space in which to open up?’.

Crickets.

I don’t know what I ordered or ate suffice to say it went down fast and I was out of there in under an hour. As I headed to my car I wondered if maybe I was just a ‘bit scary’ (its been said before) and I should give him another chance in less formal circumstances. By the time I arrived home I had my answer… 11 texts from the guy. Over a 15 minute period.

What started as a simple ‘thank-you’ morphed over the minutes into a plea for a second date, concern for my safety (since he hadn’t heard from me), a detailed list of my positive attributes and physical appearance, followed by more pleas for another chance.

I felt for the guy. I really did. It was like watching myself on an answer phone some 10 years ago.. leaving a rambling message which started out cool and ended up desperate. I figured I’d give it another go and I’d call him in the morning.

But when 7 new texts greeted me in the morning, including one which said ‘I know I have a hard time communicating’, I decided to move on. I don’t want to date a version of myself from 2002.   Yikes.

After two let downs in the space of weeks,  I decided to give it one more shot before handing in the towel on ‘Dat-a-thon 2014’. 3 strikes and I’m out. Its summer and while I’d love a guy in my life, I really don’t want to spend my spare time looking at profiles and enduring any more painful cups of coffee when I could be out doing… well …. anything else.

So after a few weeks I decided that John would be #3 and my final ‘on-line’ date of this season. He was divorced (yay.. someone loved him once), skinny, a rider and a double for Jim Parsons (Sheldon Cooper). Now while I love a geek, I’m more of the ‘Jewish nose & glasses’ geek than the ‘white bread artisic guy’ variety but hey.. he seemed interesting and there were no single Jews available. Can’t be totally picky.

John sat down and I swear I was suddenly in an episode of the Big Bang Theory. Sans laugh track or amusing bot mots. Chemistry? Zero. Attraction? Zero. Conversational skills? Zero. I can’t say for sure that he was artistic, but he certainly did a very good Sheldon Cooper impression.

I did learn that he’d had a mental breakdown (so that was interesting and helped influence my longer term dating plans) and that he programmed rockets (Sheldon Cooper in-the-flesh). But he wasn’t offensive, he was polite and hey, it was the first conversation with a dude in 2 months. Score!

With my mother’s counsel ringing in my ears (“you’re too picky”) I decided to go with a second date and see if the illusive ‘chemistry’ could emerge from somewhere. Who knows.. maybe once he chilled out a bit, he’d be all kinds of amusing or charming or… something?

Lets just say if you’re not that interested on the first date, unless he or you have undergone a personality change in the preceding days or weeks.. it ain’t happening on the second. Sorry Mum. Life is just too short to wait around hoping for nothing to become something. I’d rather have the nothing and enjoy the rest of my time.

So for the rest of 2014, if I’m meeting any men, it’s going to be out in the normal world. Where it’s perfectly acceptable to say ‘see-ya’ after 5 minutes and it’s not my job to make anyone interesting. Where chemistry is palpable and instant, and I don’t have to drink any more fucking coffee to see if its going to  develop into something.

Sure, you can be too picky. You can also be too hopeful. But at the conclusion of Date-A-Thon 2014 I’d have to say I’m definitely neither.

Fuck first impressions

insultI’ve always considered myself more of a grower than a show-er. I’m an acquired taste. People like me… after a while. I’m someone who tends to be more highly appreciated over time. Like wine, I taste pretty foul the first time, but after a while, you start looking forward to that glass at the end of the day. But you sort of need to stick at it to get there.

(I’ve also been likened to being hit over the head by a 2 x 4. You can get used to anything if you do it long enough. But I digress.)

First impressions of me (years later when inebriated, most friends and lovers have confessed), range from ‘cold’ and ‘harsh’ to ‘awkward’ and most often ‘rude’. I’m also ‘over confident’ and ‘shy’, ‘chatty’ and ‘dull’, ‘overly smart’ and on one occasion ‘bore-ish’.

Lets just conclude that I don’t make a great first impression. What can I say, I find social interaction outside of work sorta challenging.  Especially around men I don’t know. I don’t know shit about football, I don’t have kids and I certainly can’t ‘small talk’.

Could be one of the reasons I’ve often ended up dating my boss.

Once I get to know a guy – say, 3 or 4 months in – I can relax and my true colors shine through. I’m actually a bit soppy, ridiculously romantic, a very caring person and fairly articulate.. but from the moment I first meet someone of the opposite sex, I become the worst version of everyone. Think of the worse date you’ve ever been on… ever… I got them beat if you’re a cute guy and I don’t know you.

Cue the sweaty palms and inarticulate ‘uhuhs’

If you’re my boss, I will – obviously – insult you upon our first meeting. I’ve told bosses that their shirt was ‘a bit gay’, that they’re ‘overdoing the product’ on their hair, their ‘pants are waaaaay too tight’ and on one occasion I introduced myself to my boss by telling him that ‘I’ve heard you’re something special but I don’t see it’.

Frankly its amazing I have a job at all sometimes. It’s not that I set out to be a bit of git, it’s just what comes out of my mouth.

(my current boss learned to tolerate me when I ordered a martini during our first meeting (it was an early dinner) and I swore joyfully ‘fucccccck me’ into my drink.)

(I wasn’t aware he was a devote Mormon.)

(he was clearly desperate for someone to fill the role)

In lieu of polite conversation about the local football team, the weather or family (my small talk consists of swearing about Obama’s ineptitude and the latest num nuts platitudes coming from the far right), I just seem to resort to whatever comes into my head. Which inevitably insults those in the immediate vicinity.. including the person I’m trying to relate to.

Thankfully over the years my coworkers and bosses have learned to tolerate my shortcomings, (slightly worrying in the face of my profession), due to my excessive productivity and willingness to send emails at 10pm.. but when it comes to dates.. romantic prospects… well frankly I’m still in second grade. (if they needed more emails sent, maybe I’d be married by now?)

If a guy is car-crashingly ugly, dull, rude or totally unappealing, I have no problem. I become supremely confident in my attractiveness, relax and let the verbal banter run rings around the poor sod. I actually enjoy dates where I know there isn’t going to be another.  But if he’s  in anyway attractive, if I feel even the faintest glimmer of a spark that could potentially be nurtured into some kind of flame, if I immediately mentally checking the match-iness of my underwear, well I’m fucked. I may as well leave the location and just go home. Its going to save everyone a lot of embarrassment.

I’m so terrified of what might come out of my mouth that my brain freezes. I say nothing. When something does eek out, I spend the next 15 minutes questioning whether I sounded stupid, desperate, too keen or not keen enough. Largely I sound retarded or overly obsessive (I talked to one poor cute guy for an HOUR about a bike race.. which he hadn’t even watched.. in fact I don’t think he even owned a bike).  So largely about 30 minutes into a date, the guy is wondering how to make a non rude exit from the chick who’s muttering to herself and chewing her cuticles. As first impressions go, its a miracle that I ever get the chance to make a second.

(I put it down to good boobs and a sterling resume)

It seems that throughout my single 30s and 40s, the only way I get through my extreme nervousness in the face of an eligible man, is to get naked. Thankfully my coworkers are a fairly unappealing bunch or I’d have been fired long, long ago.

But this ‘confident when naked/ illiterate when clothed’ thing has made dating quite a challenge, especially as I hit my 40s. After all, you can’t get naked on a first date at 42… (what was cute at 25 or 35 indicates mental illness in your 40s) and getting naked on a first date tends to be somewhat terminal in the minds of most American men. (who conveniently forget that while they don’t want to be with someone who “does that”, they themselves also just ‘did that’).

So over the years I’ve regulated my ‘getting naked’ significantly and generally removed myself from the dating populace since I know I’m about as suave as a goat when it comes to meeting strangers.  Instead I hold out hope that someone I know in a platonic way, someone I meet while I’m temporarily blind (or they are), someone I work with or someone who’s been previously burned by my harsh tongue or bad behavior… will one day wake up and think ‘you know… maybe I didn’t give her enough of a chance’. Maybe, just maybe that guy will look past the insults, the nakedness, the chewed cuticles and wonder ‘I wonder what she’s really like’.

I know.. I know.. its a long shot. But after the most recently ineptitude which involved me drinking my body weight in wine, seducing a fairly willing man and then STILL finding insults coming out of my mouth… well.. I’m not holding my breath.

Or maybe I’m just a ‘7th impression’ girl? Now the trick finding someone willing to keep coming back to get to that version of me… nail gun anyone???

Spring fling

Yes.. its been a while. Let me explain.

Spring is sprung here in Colorado and once I could actually take off a layer of thermals/ feel my fingers/ remove more thermals.. well men arrived.

springfling
Spring Fling

And after a desert-like 2013, who could blame me? I had a little fling.

But as with all spring flings, they tend to get flung pretty darn fast. This one, faster than usual (this coming from the 2013 speed dater record of 23 minutes).

One minute I was revelling in sex on tap, the joy of having someone take me out to dinner (with tablecloths people, TABLECLOTHS), and telling me how gorgous I was as we polished off another bottle of Chateauneuf-de-Pape… the next.. meh.. not so much.

You see the spring fling is a weather drive occurance here in Colorado. We’re over our winter activities, its stopped snowing most days, but we’re not yet full speed into our summer obsessions. We’re on ‘slow’ speed and we’ve got time on our hands. The weather is tricky (75-32-65-17-50 can be a typical week) and honestly, what can you really do when its overcast and grey, cold and you don’t like shopping?

Have a fling. Its like a second job and certainly made my ‘mud season’ fly by.

I’d forgotten how much time a dude can take up. Like ALL of it.

I had to fight to make enough room for some yoga and a spinning class or three. And I’m sorry, but if I’ve seen you last night and we chatted until the wee hours, what on earth do I have to talk about tonight? And for 4 hours? Over the phone.

(Yes, apparently my fling was set in 1989.)

If I was suddenly wondering what I was going to do over a weekend where it was meant to rain, be hot, snow and with winds of 80 mph.. well here was my answer. Fling. Hours accounted for. Boredom = zero.

Unfortunately a fling comes with some serious downsides other than time suckage.

First there’s the waist expansion. After a spartan ‘clean eating’ winter which left me fairly lean and healthy, suddenly I’m chowing down on foie gras, rabbit and duck fat fries, desserts and wine. Twice, three times a week.

And did I mention the wine? I think I’m personally responsible for the current Syrah shortage on the West coast. I went from an occassion glass and a few martinis a week to what was verging on a daily habit. I think 50% of my nutrition was coming from olives one week.

Then there’s the financial impact. You see flings require that you suddenly refresh your wardrobe, (partly due to that expanding wasitline and partly because someone is suddenly actually seeing you in your smalls), invest in that French lace push up bra and ignore all of your financial good intentions by throwing down $65 for the matching panties.

Yes. $65 for panties.

(and no, they don’t come with a cappacino machine or gold stockings.. I checked)

You need cute outfits for date nights, cute things for after the date nights and more cute things so that you look cute while lounging around doing nothing. And apparently SmartWool doesn’t cut it.

Lets just say I am now set for plunging V neck tops, skinny jeans, low heeled boots (he was under 6 ft), dresses and make up for the remainder of 2014.

Yes my fling was time consuming, fattening and expensive…But oh it was fun.

After not being touched by anyone other than my OBGYN and my gastroenterologist in 12 months.. it was a lovely reminder of the wonder that is someone else’s skin next to yours. That your boobs are more than annoyances when running. That your cycling butt makes those $65 panties look AWESOME and having someone appreciate all that work you’ve spent on  yoga mat. Well.. I wasn’t saying no.

Whats best of all is the surprise of the thing. That after you’ve decided you’re content with your dog, your bikes and your friends.. you suddenly get the delight that is an unexpected lustfest plumped down in front of you out of the blue. Sort of like going to Whole Foods and someone slipping a whole chocolate cake into your bags as you walk out the door. Finding someone who makes you laugh, who thinks you’re the bees knees and who actually owns and opens a wallet (single ladies.. amiright?). Who wants nothing more than you to feel amazing?

Pretty cool… until it was a bit … well.. much.

You see the flimsey nature of the fling is that it flings far and fast.. and it burns itself out faster than you can say ‘with 3 olives please’.

As the temperature in Colorado started to rise, my desire to spend more time on the bike(s), with my friends, hiking, camping and actually doing stuff that doesn’t involve being horizontal or sipping wine started to increase. My tolerance for long phone calls and ‘doing nothing’… well it was bound to end. I mean I already have a job thanks.. and I really don’t want another one that involves inordinate amounts of time gazing.

Unless its at Chris Froomes butt.

And while yes, you can have a life and date someone, its hard to have an active life with someone who isn’t.. well.. that active. Who isn’t excited to watch Paris Roubaix this weekend and who couldn’t give a stuff about trails clearing above 8,000 ft. If all you have in common is each other.. well, I know I’m not that entertaining.. and sadly, neither was he.

Plus he paid to watch a Vin Disel movie on more than one occassion.

I can only bend so far.

So my fling is flung. No regrets, no ‘what ifs’ and certainly no reconsiderations. At 42 I might have wrinkes but I also know my own mind, and trying to become someone else for someone else… thats so 1990s. If that means I’m single.. so be it.

As of today I consider the bad juju from 2013 erased. My dry patch over and 2014 officially ON.

Plus I just ordered some new cycling shorts from Rapha. Maybe not ‘skin on skin’ loveliness but damn expensive lycra and a Cytech chamois  is a definite close second.

 

Its awesome.. except when I’m not

woman-walking-aloneOne of my favorite bloggers recently wrote a post that stuck with me, and helped articulate my current conflicted feelings about the guy I’ve started dating.

After a long, long… loooong time of being alone, of hapless first dates, desperate drunken fumbles and one shocking dump-age, I find myself in a good place, with a good man, having an amazing time. He makes me laugh, he’s smart, cute and is willing to endure my sizable list of anxieties (this may change.. give it time) and I like him. He bizarrely seems to feel the same way. That never happens.

I like him in a ‘wow I actually can stand to be around you for hours at a time and still enjoy you’ type way. (Rare since I generally love people, but only in 1-2 hour stints) and after a first date of 8 hours, a second date of 9 hours and a third date of well.. a weekend.. I’m feeling like the 8 year old girl at school who just found their new bestest friend.

But as we move from ‘oh its amazing that I met someone who I like’, who doesn’t need to be lifted by a crane from his house, or need an intervention, whose ego isn’t swallowing him whole and whose lack of selfishness is – frankly- astonishing… well of course. Its time for my anxiety to swell to whole new levels and the deconstruction of his personality, his quirks, his ‘shit’… to start.

I wish I was a Buddist. I fervently wish I could ‘be here now’ and I really do try to just ‘be in the moment’ but my brain can’t help itself. Ifs its not spinning at 600rpm, its not comfortable. So while I’m basking in the satiation of a joyful weekend with my *gulp* boyfriend, my sentient brain is looking for the cracks. The flaws. The elements that make this guy human.. but which I just know, will drive me insane in about 6 months and cause me to run for the hills.

And while he’s busy being himself, eagerly sharing his great day, or ideas for a future weekend, I suddenly find my throat closing up and all of the air sucking out of the room. I can’t breathe. I need space. Its too much and my head might explode any second…to whit.. I have to get off the phone asap with a rapidly invented ‘class’ that amazingly starts in 10 minutes.

As soon as I hit ‘End’ on the phone the air rushes back in. My pulse rate returns to normal and this huge weight of expectation leaves my shoulders.

I know.. I know… its ridiculous. I’m a chick. We’re meant to love planners, and men who want to spend time with us. We want guys who talk on the phone and can’t wait to see us.

But I’m not that chick.

I’ve dated and married men with cool detachment. Men who call, but don’t have much to say. Who literally ask ‘how was your day?’ and then get off the phone in 10 minutes.  Who like silence. Who would no more tell me about their day than talk to me in the bathroom. Who understand the need for space.. in fact, need even more than I do.

Faced with someone who wants to close that space, engage with me daily, chat on the phone for hours and make plans 3 days out.

Well I’m sweating even thinking about it.

I know its my problem. He’s just acting like a guy who likes a chick. He has a life, I have a life. He’s not asking to move in (oh boy that guy was a piece of work) and he’s certainly not monopolizing my time (ditto).. but I can’t help but freak out every time he knocks on one of my carefully constructed mental walls, even if its just to check I’m ok and ask if I need another cup of tea.

It literally makes me want to run screaming.

(now you get why I’m in therapy). Intimacy… its kind of a bit of a problem for me.

I know this will pass. Over time I know I will be able to relax. Enjoy the attention and the connection – after all, its what I’ve been looking since I lost it back in my 30’s.

So for now, I’m trying to take it one day at a time. Speak with kindness. Try not to project my abject fear onto him and remember that its not ‘him’ and that yes, whatever we’ve got going on.. well ..it is kinda awesome.

Me? Well I’m not quite ‘awesome’ with it yet.

But I know its ok not to be and that as with all things.. this too will pass.

The sense of claustrophobia will ease, my desire to reinforce the carefully constructed walls around my life will fade, and who knows.. maybe one day, I’ll make like East Germany and knock those fuckers down.

I’ll always be someone who likes silence. Who needs space.. even if its to do nothing. Who recharges without words and who lives in their head. But after many years of trying to change, I know that to be with someone doesn’t mean that I have to lose these things. At 42, I’m not going to change… but I can flex.

I just need to open my mouth and start the conversation about how its awesome… but sometimes, I’m not.

Casual Encounters – Tinder

26bits-tinder-superJumboWhile I’m no longer dating, when my circle single women friends allude to ‘finding someone’, we often fall into discussion of the different dating sites with humor, authority, insight and NSFW warnings;

  • Match is for hooking up
  • eHarmony for finding a divorced dad or religious guy
  • JDate for cute nerds with mommy issues
  • PlentyofFish for blue collar guys and shirtless snaps
  • OkCupid for ‘alt’ types and those under 30
  • Its Just Lunch for rich introverts and oddballs
  • Craigslist for opera tickets, cheap furniture and dick pics

Between them, my friends have covered the online dating spectrum, each offering up advice to others about ‘the friend’ who amazingly ‘found the perfect guy’ on this site or that site and who is now totally happy/ been dating a year/ married/ living together/hating the way he leaves his towels on the floor.

And despite being of reasonable intelligence, over the past few years I’ve wondered ‘maybe I’m not on the right site’.

(NOTE: this is easily refuted by checking out three site at random. You’ll largely find its 80% of the same guys on all sites. There is no hidden Valhalla of eligible sane men in the Denver metro area. Sorry.)

So when a guy friend of mine asked whether I’d tried ‘Tinder’ I threw it in my mental trash bin of ‘yet another dating site where I get matched with that short chubby dude from Westminster’. But then a girlfriend of mine mentioned Tinder a few weeks back, and the requisite qualification – aka’ my girlfriend met someone on it and they’re dating now’ – it got me thinking. Not that I thought this phone app was actually the Valhalla I’d been searching for, but that if it was anything like Grindr, it might solve my current nagging issue.

Celibacy.

You see I’m fundamentally wired to have trouble balancing my strong libido and my stronger desire to avoid being considered a slut for acting on it. And since my desire to date is equitable to a desire to stab myself in the eyeball, its resulted in quite a dry year. Figuratively speaking of course.

In fact many of my discussions with friends these days if they concern men at all, tend towards the physical absence of sex rather than the actual absence of a partner. Our dreams of white dresses and matching towel sets withering along with our ovaries. In fact, the older we get, the desire for ‘fun’ (aka sex), far outweighs the desire to choose curtains  together. Which is where, I guess, Tinder comes in.

Now for those who aren’t in the market for a ‘hook up’ or who last dated in the Clinton years, Tinder is the hetro answer to the wildly ubiquitous hook up app for gay men ‘Grindr’.

Grindr, (est 2009), was based on the assumption that all men are pigs, ergo, willing to have sex with anyone, anytime and anywhere.. often without saying a word to each other.  Grindr just facilitates that process anywhere – you can hook up while ringing up your groceries at Safeway as easily as you can in a bar. The app works by showing you other Grindr users profiles in your immediate physical vicinity, enables you to search based on what activity they’re interested in pursuing (blow jobs and anal rank a little higher than croquet and scrapbooking), and ‘bobs your uncle’, you get profiles of dudes within 6, 10, 50 feet of you who are likewise feeling the itch. If you’re interested and he’s interested, you can literally grab your groceries, your Grindr dude and get laid without a word.

You’ve got to give it to the gays.. they sure are effective in getting it done.

Fast forward 3 years and the straight guys starting wondering if the same thing might work for hetros. Of course it wouldn’t be quite so blatantly about getting laid (oh no, the ladies wouldn’t go for that), designed a little more like a portable dating app, and featuring a rating tool where users can view photos of users, select ‘hot or not’ to ward off those they’re not interested in, and potentially help facilitate a meeting, and eventually a hook up. The ‘hot or not’ feature also helpfully enables women to internally judge their self worth by collecting ‘Likes’ as they scroll for their perfect box of cereal life partner .

Sidebar: Funny how Grindr doesn’t have that ‘hot or not’. Apparently, as we hetro women have assumed for years, all gay men are hot. Or hot to another horny dude.

Anyhow, like Grindr, Tinder took off and became fairly popular amongst those in the 18-24 crowd, (the app has an age limit of 50 – after which apparently you die alone and celibate) with people using it to check each other out, entertain themselves while driving, making it less weird to be standing at the bar waiting for your friends etc.

But then, in a recent interview in the HuffPo, Tinder app creator Justin Mateen clarified the purpose of Tinder as follows;

“It was never meant to be used for hooking up. We just did a poll recently, and a tiny percentage of our users think that’s what Tinder is for. Fundamentally women aren’t wired that way, right? So even if we had tried to create it for that, it wouldn’t have worked.”

Its always a disappointing day when you find out that you don’t exist?

Why Grindr is acceptable for guys to facilitate casual hook ups, but not for women to find dudes to ‘entertain’ is beyond me. It actually sounds like a fabulous idea for someone who doesn’t want the strings and matching towel sets of a relationship but also has some life left below the equator. Aka ‘me’ and my eleventy million single girlfriends.

Which is what I was thinking when I tried to download the app. YOLO and all that.

‘Your phone operating system is not compatible with this application. Please upgrade your phone operating system and increase memory capacity in order to complete download’.

Apparently both me and my phone are too old for Tinder.

8 reasons why I’m not calling you back

waiting-phone-callOver the last 56 thrillion dating profiles I’ve looked at and the eleventy million bad first dates I’m endured, I’ve honed a fairly simple but robust approach to meeting someone new. Of the dating persuasion.

Not for me the simple ‘smiley face’ followed by the inevitable text ‘whatcha doing?’ from ‘Rob 1969’. No, I’m not twelve and neither are you Rob. I require, against Elvis’s wishes no less, ‘a little more conversation and a little more action please’. After all, if I’m going to be kicking off my pants and jumping into the sack, I’d at least like to know what your voice sounds like. Nope.. these days I follow my own rules; 2 emails, 1 phone chat, 1 drink. THEN, only then, do we get to go on a date.

Sounds rigid? Youbetcha.

  • Have you ever been on a date with a man who bored himself to sleep? Literally a doze at the bar?
  • Have you ever been on a date with a felon who lived with his dad?
  • Has one of your dates explained that he only has 8pm-10pm slots available in his life? (M-F)
  • Did one of your dates spend the entire first meet up reviewing his resume and work history?
  • Have you showed up on a date to find out that he attended Woodstock (the original) – as a vendor?
  • Did your date tell you all about how he watches S&M porn with his dad and they have the same taste?

Hence, these days, an essential part of my finely honed dating etiquette is the ‘pre meet up’ phone chat.  Just like a job interview, this is the ‘screener call’ aimed at ferreting out the weirdos, those lacking in any social etiquette or conversational skills, or the complete odd balls who really shouldn’t be applying for the job at all. Its the simplest way to see if I want to learn more about you.. and vice versa.

Its so easy. Chit chat about nothing for 10 minutes, slip in some questions and watch for those low fences – employment (aka – do you have a job), living situation (are you still living with your ex? your parents? on a sofa?), general temperament (do you want to talk about the meaning of life in the first five minutes? do you find yourself hysterical?). Fall at these easy hurdles and I’ll mumble a potential future date, but I’ll never call you to schedule it.

Of course if they pass the screener chat, its no guarantee that our date will be great, but at least I’ve not spent the evening slapping on foundation, eyeliner and lipgloss only to be met by a monosyllabic moron who watches the tv screen at the bar instead of trying to learn anything about me at all. And hey, at 40ish, if I’m skipping a yoga class or a Masters of Sex episode, I want to make sure I’m going out to meet someone I’m interested in learning more about. 

If we’ve chatted on the phone and you thought it went great… here are some of the reasons I won’t be calling you back after all.

1. You tell me you hate your job.

I don’t care. I’m not your mother, your self actualization coach or your wife. I am a stranger, just like someone you met at Target, and therefore bear no responsibility for your work woes. If its one of the first things you choose to share with me ever.. its not really a winner. I’d probably be more interested in your ability to guesstimate my bra size. Even if you do hate your job, that’s fine – I just don’t need to know at this moment in time. Maybe in 3-6 months time.. say when we’ve farted in front of each other. Then you can complain about your job. Until then, lets focus on whether we’ve got anything in common other than breathing.

2. You mention your ex more than once in the conversation.

I don’t know you. I don’t know your ex. And by virtue of her being your ex, I probably don’t need to know her – and certainly today and this call is not the time to introduce her. We’re meant to be interested in learning about each other.. not your past… not yet. And unless your ex is still in your life, (necessitated by kids, you serving time for her murder etc), then you don’t need to mention her more than once. Twice and I assume you’re still hung up on her; three times and I’ll just assume she’s holding a gun to your head. Not convinced? How often do you talk about your ex to a stranger you’re standing next to in Target? Exactly. To you, that’s all I am right now.

3. You couldn’t charm your way out of a paper bag

Part of the screener call is to see if there is any rapport between us. We’re not looking for break dancing and American Idol auditions, but we do need to know that holding a conversation with you isn’t going to make our eyeballs bleed and our ears wilt. Since we’re  not talking about much – online profile data, the weather, the weekend, any odd similarities or coincidences, you should be on stable ground. Maybe make light of something (doesn’t even have to be joke), ask a question and sound interested at my response. Its not hard… charming can be as simple as listening and responding. Charming is not – suave, smooth, oily or creepy. It does not involve you telling me that you made my bikini picture your screen saver or that you’ve Googled me and downloaded my thesis on deindustrialization. No I did not hurt myself when I fell from heaven, and yes, they are real. And no, you’ll never get to see them. And no, talking about sex on the phone the first time we chat is a no no. Would you do that to some in line at Target? ‘Security!’

4. Why so serious?

We’re strangers on the phone. Attempt to make a lighthearted conversation happen, or at least something vaguely interesting. It doesn’t need to be funny, or even light.. but you can’t bring up the death of your mother, your fallen army buddies in Iraq or the state of abortion rights in Texas. Sure I’ll discuss this with you until the cows come home at some point in the future, but its NOT ‘chatty’ ‘get to know you’ conversation. I don’t need to know that you’re trying to figure out the second half of your life (yet), that your crippling social anxiety makes it hard to leave the house most days (yet), and that you’ve not had a date since 2006 (ever). I’m not a free therapist and if I need a drink after talking to you for 20 minutes, the likelihood is that you need a therapist. Not a date.

5. Its takes two

A conversation is an exchange of ideas, sounds, vowels.. but most importantly, voices. There should be two people talking on the phone during a ‘screener’ chat. If there’s only one – either of you – its not a good sign. I once sat on a call with a guy for 35 minutes while he discussed his life. I ended the call and realized he’d not asked me a single question about myself. He probably felt great – he’d offloaded a bunch of stuff while someone listened and asked questions. Free therapy.

Apparently my profile – all 350 words of it – gave him everything he needed to know about me so questions weren’t necessary from him. I’m apparently better at writing than I thought.

If its only your voice you hear, you might as well hang up unless you’re an egotistical maniac. If s/he can’t interject, respond to a question with more than  a single word, you’re not a match. His match is a stoned socially anxious hermit, or a woman who likes the sound of her voice, and hers alone. Since you’re already single, you already have silence in your life. You don’t need silence accompanied by farting. You have a dog for that. The only way this guy moves to an actual date is if your FWB has tapped out. This guy is a perfect FWB – quiet.

6. Liar Liar

Everyone lies on their profile right? (I’ll never be 5 ft 3 without shoes on.) But when its apparent that his profile was about as realistic as Lady Gaga’s hair, its going to be tough to get to an actual date. Once women find a loose stitch in the sweater, we can’t help but pick at it until we’ve unraveled a whole new reality omitted from your ‘About Me’ story.  When I ask you about your medical specialty and you told me ‘General?’ with a question mark. When I asked where you received your culinary education (note – ‘around’ isn’t an institution) or even when I calculated your actual age based on the length of your marriage, women can spot a fibber at 15 feet. And if we can spot it over the phone, we’re not likely to bother with the actual date. You’re probably still married.

7. Not feelin’ it

The dreaded non specific ‘chemistry’. Yes, it exists over the phone. Its what makes you talk for an hour by accident or hang up, excited to learn more. And sure, I probably have missed some great guys due to bad phone chemistry but I’ve also saved myself some terrible bad first dates. We might chit chat and its all very pleasant for 15 minutes, but if nothing has grabbed me, (or you) and we’re running out of things to say… it doesn’t bode well for an actual date. Its at that point that one or both of us would start knocking back the tequila to make it more interesting. So no… lovely person I just spoke with.  You did nothing wrong, you were offensive in no way and you asked me about myself. But like most people in the queue at Target, some people you don’t need to talk to for more than 5 minutes in a lifetime. And apparently, we just did that. Good luck. Next.

8. The phantom caller

We agreed to chat but then you text at 10pm. I return your call and you don’t pick up, instead I get an email. You’re desperate to arrange a date via text and email, but you won’t pick up the phone when I call and actually speak to me. I’m all about the social media and email, but in dating, at some point you have to physically meet the other person and exchange words. A text or an email can get you to that point.. but its no substitution for a live conversation. So no, even if you’ve left 3 messages at weird times, and texted me repeatedly, we’re not going out until you and I have spoken live. We’re not 15, we’re grown ups and if you can’t ask a woman out by the time you’re 40, you’ve got bigger problems than me not calling you back. Grow a pair buddy.

So yes I’m rigid, cold and not a little cynical about this dating stuff, but then if you’d been stiffed for the bill by strangers, stood up by nervous nellys and ignored in favor of the bar maid, you’d be right there with me too. So if she’s not calling you back… consider if its any of these reasons. And if not, maybe she just didn’t like the tone of your voice. Sorry. What can I say. We are, after all, women. And we do control all the vagina.

The case for women over 35

Robin-Wright-David-Roemer-Evening-Standard-02I was reading OKCupid blog this weekend and I have to share the awesomeness that came from their stats blog. If you’re over 35 and feeling sorta depressed about dating.. this one is for you. In fact, I want to trumpet this news from the rooftops, but since I live in a condo and I’m scared of heights, I’ll settle for some vague mumbling as I walk around Whole Foods and this blogpost.

The premise that OkCupid puts forward is this:

As a woman, the older you are, the harder it is to date

(I know, tell me about it).

But this isn’t just because there are less single people out there. The real reason is down the to skew that occurs in men’s preferred age range for dating. Men date younger and younger women the older they get. (Something completely evident as soon as you walk into a Houstons or Elways).

But its not just limited to sugar daddy’s and 50 something divorcees.. No siree.. By age 23, men are looking for women only 1-2 years older than themselves but at least 4-5 years younger. And  as they get older, this skews even younger and younger- peaking at age 48, when men will consider dating a 48 year old woman, BUT also everyone younger than her down to 28. (OkCupid has the charts to prove it).

“With a ‘token’ upper limit right around his age, the majority of men are dating 5,10, even 15 years younger the older they get.”

What’s even worse, according to OK Cupid, is that the average guy is spends a considerable amount of time messaging women even younger than their stated minimum. So no matter what the guy says on his ‘site page’, a 30 year-old man spends as much time messaging 18 and 19 year-olds as he does women his own age. And your 48 year old? Apparently messaging 22 year olds.

Yikes.

So if you’re a 41 year old women, you’re not only competing for attend from other 40 somethings, factor in the 30 somethings and even the 20 somethings.

No wonder we’re not getting much play.

Women, ignored by their male peers after their early 30’s, start increasing their response rate to older and older guys… since they’re the only ones who are paying attention. So your average 30 year old chick is actually already starting to respond to 40 yr old guys, and us 40 somethings are left with the sexagenarians.

In fact, by the time a woman is 48, her chances of meeting something via a dating site is 50% that of a guys.

But..put down the butter knife, hands off the Xanax… OkCupid says ‘oh hells no’.

Because here’s the dirty little secret.. based on OkCupid stats, we’re actually a more attractive match for guys than they think (no matter how deep our crows feet are).

Why?

Cos we like sex more.

In fact, OkCupid asked woman a bunch of sex related questions and mapped them according to age. Here are a few indicators of our apparently rampant sexuality;

  • 75% of 39 year old women, when asked, said that sex is one of their favorite activities. By comparison only 25% of 18 year olds agreed.
  • 74% of 34 year olds, said that they were fine with casual sex compared to 55% of 18 year olds
  • 81% said they enjoyed giving oral sex, compared to 63% of 19 year olds
  • 40% of 34 year olds said they’d consider a threesome, compared to just 29% of 24 year olds

Other preferences which OkCupid found about older women

  • We apparently like to dominate more in bed
  • We use contraception and get tested regularly
  • Our self confidence is at 95% by age 39

and here’s the big one for most commitment-phobic guys…

  • 96% of us are ok being in a relationship that won’t lead to marriage by the age of 36.

So, before you start questioning your profile or wondering ‘what in hell is wrong with me?’ know that you’re probably dating to young. And that goes for you too guys. Nothing wrong with dating a 35 or 40 year old chick.. you know, if you like sexy confident women who might be into a threesome?

Just sayin’.

Doing the Match.com ‘Season’

A girlfriend and I recently discussed taking ourselves off Match.com. It seems the 2013 relationship ‘season’ is over and its time to hang up the witty email banter for another year as we move into the frigid (literally) months of winter.
Over our time on Match we’ve noticed that April – June is the influx season of new blood. As we shed off our winter parkas and shift that stubborn muffin top, Match.com sees huge numbers signing up to get looks, get love, get laid. By summer the takings are picked over but still rich. By October its a cold day in dating land as the losers languish and the marginally date-worthy hunker down for the winter with their current squeeze or *gasp* alone.  Long term divorcees (cue the noon martini, french cigarillo and feather boas), we’ve both been off and on Match for a few years… we know the drill.

Yes, I said years.

It sounds bad but its actually more common than you think. Especially if you’re divorced with a modicum of taste. You sign up, you post a profile, filter out the 121 guys with beards, lifted trucks and pot bellies then go on a few dates. Find a guy you actually want to see again and take yourself off match. 12 weeks later that’s over (his profile omitted the ex girlfriend he was in love with, his terrible technique in bed, his $100K in debt).. You take a break..then.. bored out of your mind with nary a date for months, you head back on Match. You can wait around and meet people through all those ‘activities’ that dating books tell you about – but frankly I do all that stuff and everyone I meet wants to date a 33 yr old.  Which I.. will never be.

So, if you’re over 40 and you want to meet someone (as a woman) you have two choices: invest in a mini skirt and head to the nearest cougar palace, or go online.I’m saving the cougar palace for my 50s.. so Match it is.

Plus is it wrong to want to eat dinner across the table from a dude who finds me attractive?  Since working at home leaves me slim pickings (the UPS guy, the USPS guy, the Fed Ex guy… men with packages basically)… its sort of sad, (I know), but Match can at least deliver me a dinner date. (NOTE: the Match ROI balances out pretty fast).

But back to the influx theorem. Over the years my girlfriend and I have noticed this strange Match.com wave that hits around April, peaks around August and fades (with your tan) around the beginning of the holidays. We’ve signed up in October, looked around and immediately renewed our Netflix. Join in June and prepare to be wined and dined (or at least emailed to death.).. but as the leaves fall, its chubby Dave and his 3 kids in suburbia or nothing*.

Why? Is it because spring brings excitement and joy, new energy and lighter days? Are relationships in their death throes finally ended with some vigor and enthusiasm to find a new ‘one’? Or are the cold winds of winter too much of a match for… Match? Do the long days of a sequestered winter kill all relationship desire or is it winter weight that keeps men tethered to the sofa until the end of March? Am I doomed to eat alone until spring 2014 rolls around and I can date a decent man again???

Why? why? why the October slump?

1 word.

Football.

See you next year Match.

*(nothing against Dave, but Dave’s tend to not want to expose the kids to my tattoos, motorcycle or swearing).

You need to …the condundrum that is advice

Munch_The_Scream_lithographyI enjoy being single and 41. My life is rich, way more fun and joyful than I ever expected 41 to be (I thought it would involved a lot more sweatpants).

I just wish there was a little less of the singleness sometimes. I’ve had 2 dates this year and one drunken hook up. Arid doesn’t begin to describe my love life.. I think my fridge has seen more action.

On a visit to San Francisco this weekend, I was delighted to receive zero feedback or advice about my single status – a refreshingly unusual state of affairs. Upon meeting most people these days, they’re full of unsolicited advice for how to address my *gasp* non partnered state.  And its not just me… to most partnered people we’re just doing it all wrong.

‘Stop looking’

‘Don’t give up’

‘You’re trying too hard’

‘You’re not trying hard enough’

‘You need to be more/ less picky’

‘I did a mantra/daily affirmation/vision board which totally worked’

‘Read this book, it totally works’

‘You’re on the wrong dating site- try OkCupid/ eHarmony/ Chemistry/Glutenfreelove.com’

‘You need to give it more than a few days.. you need to let love grow’

‘If there’s no chemistry within the first 5 minutes, you should leave’

‘Are you sure you really want to be with someone? Maybe you actually don’t’

Its draining. The advice, not the being single.

But my SF friends, who themselves found love later and via a dating site, know better.  Theirs was a highly non traditional courtship and I don’t think anyone would take advice based on their path to love; ‘move to another country after the first date’ as a successful dating strategy? You’ve got to be kidding. Except it worked and their 2 year old cutie is a testament to ‘don’t rule anything out’.

Another of my friends met her husband in bar while she was backpacking in Germany (he was on leave from the Australian army). He visited her a year later to catch up and married her 2 weeks into his visit. 13 years and 3 kids later, I think you’d call that ‘successful’ and hardly an advertisement for long term dating.

One of my girlfriends met her partner while at a party in NYC. She was an Manhattanite, an actress and a committed big city girl. He was a suburban dad from Denver. They couldn’t be further apart geographically, politically, temperamentally and lacked shared interests. 10 years later they’re happy as clams and still together. So much for finding someone who shares the same interests.

And then there’s the match story. I know everyone has a friend of their sister’s husband or their buddies next door neighbor who met their partner on match.com, but I actually do have a friend (in fact multiples) who met via online dating. The same site as me. The same city. And all on the first date they went on. Now part of me thinks ‘extremely good fortune’ and part of me thinks ‘low standards’ but they all wound up with great guys.

It seems that everyone, or most people, eventually find someone to be with. Whether its timing or circumstance, divine intervention or dogged, sweaty perseverance.. I’d like to believe if you want it, it will show up. (sadly, I don’t believe that works for large stashes of cash). And despite the circumstances, love will find a way. Apparently. Just not for me.

So, in a fit of ‘WTF?’ I decided to finally, after 7 years, ask a friend for help. Ask her and her husband to take a look at my profile and to be honest. After all, I am a writer by trade and for entertainment, but feedback never hurts. Maybe there were a few things in there which I needed to tweak? We’re consultants by trade so hey, consult my profile. Help me make it better.  Plus with a male and female perspective.. I’d have it covered.

An hour later I got her red lined document back and had a momentary seizure.

Every single line, barring the actual facts (I am 41, white and 5ft 3), was edited. Whole paragraphs were tagged ‘NO!’ in red and to be honest (horrifically), every single word she wrote was true. Me, the writer, apparently not the best writer about myself.  In fact, I’m still amazed I’ve had a date in 7 years at all once I read her feedback. And sadly I couldn’t dispute anything she wrote.. Rereading it, I seemed bitter and cold, demanding and inflexible, ‘fuck you’ and ‘I don’t give a shit’. Yikes. I was scared of me. Screw the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, make way for the Girl with the Mehendi Tattoo. She’s terrifying. You’d need balls of steel and a brain of a cucumber to sign up for that chick. No wonder dudes always seemed so relieved when they actually met me.

After all, only a sadist would approach the person in that profile.

girl-with-the-dragon-tattooThen I heard back from her husband.

He loved it.

(and I don’t think he’s a sadist?)

So now I’m more confused than ever. Do I go with what I know to be true – my profile isn’t very good, makes me sound incredibly scary, bitter and weird – or do I go with ‘the dude liked it’?

After all, I do want to date dudes.

I think I’m going to settle on the middle ground. A little frankness, a little softness,  light humor but a little more Monet, a little less Munchian ‘Scream’. God knows, based on this year, it can’t get much worse.

And meanwhile well I’m rethinking my writing. I’m not sure that I’m cut out to write the light romantic chick lit I love.. I think I might be better cut out for cold sadomasochistic horror stories. Apparently I’m really good at writing that type of scary shit.

Mind.. officially blown

jamThis morning I read an amazing piece in the Huffpo which literally blew my mind. I honestly feel compelled to write the author, send her gifts and promise her the proceeds of my estate after I am gone (aka 1 x 9.5 ft chesterfield sofa and one slightly stinky dog). She not only encapsulated the trouble with dating online in a novel and unique way, but it caused me to think about why I’ve really struggled to date in the US and honestly whether what I’m doing is actually worth it.

The essence of her piece is jam. Yes, jam. Not a product I’ve usually associated with dating (sex on the other hand…?) but it works. Ok, its actually about the paradox of choice, but I like the jam analogy which goes as follows;

“Science now tells us that if you put out 24 jams for people to sample, rather than 6, people will buy less jam.  The presentation of more choice essentially leads us to believe that somewhere, out there, exists the perfect jam for us..so we find it really difficult to choose and often just walk away.”  – Barry Schwartz

Transitioning from jam to men.. and the perp roll that is Match.com and suddenly, the last 7 years is completely explained. There are simply too many men out there to choose one.. at least beyond a first or second or third date. And they keep coming up with more flavors.

I recently updated my profile and posted what is probably the best photo I’ve had taken in the last 30 years. The result has been a lot of email. Ok, largely from the over 55 crowd (why? why?) but still, facing 30 emails in my inbox is daunting. This guy is the right age but he has a really big head. This one has 3 kids (yikes) but sounds really thoughtful and writes beautifully. This guy, wayyy too old, that one Hmmmm.. seems good but he sounds a little hung up on the ex. Result? I ignore all of them. And yet, from those emails, there is probably at least 1 or 2 I would really enjoy spending time with. But finding them amongst the noise of 30 emails?

crowd this guy

Exactly.

Now back in the UK in the 1990s, we were still (mainly) unconnected via internet and cellphones were for phone conversations. You met people through friends, through work or people you met while waiting for the bus. Your ‘jam’ selection was pretty limited. So you reviewed your options, discarded the mentally challenged, the drunks, the partnered and were probably left with 2 or 3 options who found you attractive and who you could picture naked without getting grossed out. Which made dating really easy. You picked one and if that one didn’t work out – his hobbies included lining up the tins in the cupboard, he had his head up his butt – you had another 2 to work with. And today, even though there’s Match.co.uk and texting and all of the crap we have in the US, .. there’s still less jam to choose from.

Fast forward to today. I now live in a metro area of roughly 2 million people (and that’s not even a big city for the US) of which maybe a third are single. Of those, maybe a third are on some kind of dating site. Ruling out the terminally obese, the socially awkward and those in AARP, that’s still a heck of a lot of jam. Add in people who live outside that area – even just 30 or 50 miles – and the jam selection gets even bigger. No wonder online dating is a mess.. its like a warehouse of jam.

So as you wander the aisles of this jam warehouse, pick something that looks interesting,  you can’t ever forget that there’s eleventy million other people out there who might also be interesting.. and a few of them are actively shouting at you to buy them. Which can make you suddenly very selective about that jam you’re buying.

‘Maybe its too sweet?’

‘I think its a little too pricey for my taste’

‘I love it, but god, its really drippy on toast’

‘I’m sort of craving raspberry but I know I get bored of it after a while’

‘I’m a Nutella girl all the way.. only Nutella.. where’s the Nutella?’

Now I’m old enough to know that I don’t need or want the perfect jam and I certainly am not willing to spend the rest of my life researching jams to find it.. but it is starting to feel that way sometimes. Even when I’m looking really hard, there’s just too much on the shelf. Some of its dusty (but might be really yummy), some of it sounds awful (bilberry?) but would really blow my mind and some is just Smuckers Strawberry. Which to be honest, I will eat and enjoy every time. They all have their positive attributes.. so how do you ever pick one?

Which is to say, I’m not sure that reviewing profiles or assessing attributes over these last few months on Match.com has actually landed me anywhere. I still can’t pick a jam I like, no matter how much I try new things, use different selection criteria or give it a go. I might automatically disregard that jam with the backwards baseball cap in his photo or the 3 kids and be totally missing a gem. Just because it says organic and sugar free doesn’t mean I’m going to like the taste after a few weeks. If only there were less to choose from.

So today I probably just should approach the next friendly looking guy I meet (without a wedding ring) and ask him out. He might be Smuckers, he might be Organic Apricot and Walnut.. but he’s still jam and my toast needs something on it. And I am over shopping for damn jam.

First Date topics you might want to skip

sick-bedAh first dates. Gotta love ’em. Actually we all hate them. There is no rationale as to why we decide to spend an hour with a complete stranger with the sole purpose of trying to decide if you’ll get naked at some point in the future. I prefer my annual ob-gyn exam.. the small talk is easier and he doesn’t care if I’m not that pretty.

What do two people who know pretty much nothing about each other, talk about on a first date? I mean, its not like its an interview for a job (no matter what Jerry Seinfeld says). But you do.. and at 40 something, I typically manage to have a good time on a first date especially if they’re a) cute, b) chatty and c) trying. But last night, even I was stumped. I finally found one I couldn’t crack. And boy, did I try. Blood.. meet stone.

First dates typically start by either of you latching onto a topic and staying there until the cocktail kicks in, at which point you can move the conversation in a zillion directions. Which is when the date gets fun. After all people.. aka humans… tend to be really interesting.

Over the years I’ve learnt that to get things going to start light and casual..weekend plans, summer activities, even the weather can get things moving. Its not hard.

But no, this guy decided the best place to start after he’d said hello, was to give me his resume. Starting at age 18.

Now as a 46 year old man, who’s run a fairly successful business, I would think my date would have the ability to small talk. You know, .. how’s your summer been? done anything fun? what are your plans for fall? Are you looking forward to ski season? Banal, but easy.

Not this guy. Instead I got his life history from age 18- 46, with every move, every job, every conversation with management, his stock purchases and yes, even his IPO returns (and subsequent investment decisions).

I wasn’t sure if he’d somehow confused me with a headhunter.

At one point I even interjected to mention that yes, his career was fascinating but that I was actually more interested in how he arrived in Colorado, to which I was reprimanded with ‘I’m telling you’. So I guess if he wants to hear about how I ended up in the US I’d have to start from the womb?

But.. 15 minutes in, I managed to steer the Titanic away from the iceberg of his bank account details towards the calmer waters of his kids. Everyone likes to talk about their kids don’t they? And while I don’t actually care about his kids (I’m not considering dating them), I figure it might calm him down and he could wax rhapsodic (as all parents do) about the awesomeness that is his offspring.

But no.. I actually appeared to have found the only parent who wasn’t interested in talking about his kids. Nope.. not one bit. Instead he wanted to spend time assuring me that my decision not to have kids was ‘ok’ and that people without kids were ‘fine‘. Wow.. Thank you. I had really been tortured by my non-parent status for the last 10 years, but now *phew* I can finally sleep at night. I really must pass on to other non parents that we’re not the pariahs of society that we think.

What became really clear as he expounded  on ‘having vs. not having kids’ (with no idea as to whether this was an active choice for me or not), was that he clearly hasn’t spent any time with adults who don’t have kids. According to his portrayal of us non-parents, our status as ‘non parents’ was down to our preference for a hedonistic cycle of alcohol, sex, food, travel (yep, seems about it). No judgement though.. no judgement at all.  There was no recognition that we might have rich inner lives, be pursuing creative or spiritual passions  or that we simply didn’t find the right guy at the right time. Nope.. he was fine with people who preferred to selfishly live their lives alone with no ‘real’ responsibilities. He was just concerned for us.. dying in a retirement home, unvisited, unloved and soul suckingly alone.

What can I say. This guy knows how to woo a single woman. Sympathy for my barren status and impending lonely death always gets me hot.

Before I could interject that maybe, just maybe some of us non-parents might have a expansive network of caring friends, that we live full and rich lives, that we might actually have a greater chance to spend our latter years surrounded by loving, fun and caring people.. (after all, plenty of people in retirement homes have kids who don’t visit).. he decided that really, we needed to talk about dying.

Yep. Lets talk about dying. On a first date. Awesome.

His reason for being on Match.com? Well apparently it was down to his desire to not die alone. He wanted to die holding the hand of his loving spouse, who was assuring him that he was loved as he drew his last breath. Surrounded by his loving kids, and you know.. loved.

I want to die smothered by a pillow. Hopefully in the next 5 minutes.

He went on, and on, about his uncle who had died alone in a nursing home, with no visitors and you know..totally alone. And how, by not having kids or a spouse, this man was an object of pity and fear for my date. His being not married, sans kids,  in old age was literally the worse thing that this guy could imagine..

‘I don’t want to end up like that’

Well buddy, non of us do. That’s why we invest time in friends and family (yes, the ones you don’t create still count!). That’s why we live our lives engaged with other people. Spend our time with friends we care about and have experiences that we will remember forever. Sure, we hope some of those friends will be with us in our dotage, but if they’re not, we’ll find new friends to keep us company and engaged in life..after all, we’ve been finding and keeping friends all of our lives. (you know, when we’re too tired to have sex or too hungover to be drinking). I for one will never be alone unless I want to be.. and after an hour with this guy.. I’d never wanted anything more.

So I wish Mr.Doom and Gloom all the best in his search for his deathbed hand holder. I do know for sure it won’t be me.

I’ll be the one in the corner with the pillow at the ready.

Why you’re not long term potential

panic-hands-due-man-afraidMy friend Steve is a fellow ‘mature’ Match dater who’s been reading my blog and wanted to share some insight from a man’s perspective. Here’s his thoughts on why the guy you’ve been on a few dates with might not consider you a long term prospect.

  1. You drink too much

Its one thing to loosen up before the first date, but if you’re regularly ‘loose’ before every subsequent date, you’re probably not long term potential. Throwing back those rum and cokes mid week, every week, until you’re sorta sloppy drunk? Definitely not long term potential. Unless it a major celebration, a holiday or you just won the lottery, throwing back the booze during a date is a sign that you’re someone who likes to ‘party’. Doing it every date.. a definite sign that something’s amiss and this isn’t for the long haul.  You might be lovely (but nervous), charming (but lacking in self confidence) and a perfect match for us.. but we won’t stick around if you’re slurring ‘letsh go back to your placesh’. Of course this does mean you’re very much short term potential.. but I’m guessing you didn’t want to know that.

2. You refer to your ex(s) more than once in single evening

If you were nodding at #1 on this list, you’re probably also guilty of this one. If you find yourself referring to your ex more than once during a date.. you’re probably not long term potential – yet. In a few months, a year.. maybe… but for now… we get the sense you’re still a bit hung up on him. Of course its easy to spot to those recently scarred and still processing stuff – shouting ‘the bastard’ after mentioning his name tends to give it away. Misty eyed remembrances don’t help us feel good either. Its awesome that you love your ex, but you’re on a date with ME and frankly it makes me uncomfortable to know that you’re spending our date thinking about him. And no, using the term ‘we’ (as in ‘we hiked the Grand Canyon, we used to hang out at The Tavern all the time) isn’t any better.  Everyone has a romantic past at this point, but please can you limit bringing them on the date with us? I mean your ex sounds awesome.. but I don’t think I want to date him.

3. You’re so intent on being confident that we can’t relate to you

Men love a confident woman. It signals that we’re not going to spend every minute of every day reassuring you about your looks, your job, your friends or our feelings (which we like to do, but just not all.the.time). A woman who knows her value and her own mind is a good thing.. but you can have too much of a good thing. If you spend the entire date telling us how awesome you are, how wonderful your life is and everything in it is just amazing.. its pretty clear that you really don’t want or need a man in your life. Frankly, you’re scaring us. No-one can relate to perfection and someone who puts themselves on a pedestal.. well there’s confidence and then there’s false gutter bravado. If you’re overly confident, smug or arrogant… we know that we’re never going to measure up to your standards. But I think George Clooney is single…?

4. You eschew anything feminine

Being feminine isn’t a sign of weakness girls. Heads up – we’re guys. You’re a woman. If we wanted to date a dude, we’d be on Grindr (it sounds a hell of a lot easier). You don’t need to grab your crotch, swear like a sailor or recite the Eagles 2012 draft picks in order to be attractive (no matter how many of you want to be that chick in Silver Linings Playbook). If this is who you are – go for it. After all a tomboy can be attractive, but a chick who doesn’t have any feminine vibes about her..? Friend zone. We like women. Who are women..all flavors. And no, this doesn’t mean you need to wear a skirt or have big nails. Women who like being women have a poise about them and they’re not trying to ‘out dude’ us. Women who want to be guys..? Two words. Chas Bono. Who I do not want to date.

5. “Stage 5 clinger.. we have a Stage 5 clinger alert”

Dating is fun. And we get as excited as you do after a great date. Really. We want to show you that we’re interested, but we don’t want to come on too strong. We know its a balance and not knowing what you think or feel is part of dating can be fun. We’re adults and we know getting to know each other is a bit of a dance. Which is why ‘clingers’ freak us out. There’s no dance. Its straight up ‘I REALLY LIKE YOU’ from the get go.. all the time. If you’ve said ‘I love you’ too fast, if you’ve cried after sex or you’re calling us ‘your boyfriend’ after 2 dates.. sorry, but you’re a ‘clinger’. You want a man, any man, more than anything. In fact, we feel like you’ve put us at the center of your universe.. which frankly is terrifying when you don’t even know us. Is your life that empty? So if you’re blowing up my phone with texts after a date or two, if you’re asking me to help you move, fix your car, come look at houses.. yikes. We’re screening your calls. Actually, I think I just got a job in Alaska.

6. Making it all about sex

Yes we’re dudes. We think about sex. A lot. And if we’re straight, we spend a lot of time thinking about women. And their bodies. And.. well, you get the picture. But when we go on a date, we actually want to spend time getting to know you. Find out whether your profile was true, find out whether we have chemistry. We don’t go on a date to learn all about what you can and can’t do with your mouth. Or how much you want to do X, Y or Z. Or what you did with some dude in the parking lot this one time. I mean, we’ll listen… (hey, I’m a dude), but does this make you someone we want to date?  Not so much.  If you think that we’re only interested in sex, and you make the date all about sex or the promise of sex.. well that’s how we view you.  As someone to have sex with. If we know you’re that eager to sleep with a dude you just met… well we know you’re probably eager to sleep with anyone. Which doesn’t mean we’ll say no to the offer (well not always), but it doesn’t make us think of you as a long term girlfriend. We might… I guess… but probably not.

7. And finally… the crazy.

Don’t judge me, but we can spot crazy. Inconsistent, irrational, hysterical and out and out unstable .. crazy comes in many flavors. And crazy can be fun. But its also tiring and comes with a lot of work.  And call me lazy… but I’m not that crazy about crazy.

So there you have it. 7 reasons why your date might not be adding you to his contact list. Of course, he could also just not like you.

Before and After

hiding

As those of us who actively date know, the days after something has ended is often more fraught and emotionally charged that when you were actually dating. But not a good way.

Before you were excited to see his number pop up on your phone screen and curious as to what he had to say, now you cringe and hit delete (while feeling somehow ‘invaded’) and pray that he doesn’t resort to text. Before you spent time thinking about the time you’d spend together and the things you’d do, now you pray that Denver is big enough that you’ll never run into each other again.

And the biggest ‘before’… before you didn’t give a thought to what type of an ex he’d make, because he was lovely enough for you to date. ‘After’ ..well all of those things you noticed and appreciated about him.. frankly, now creep and annoy the heck out of you.

In my mid twenties I dated one of my neighbors. It was easy, heck it felt like we’d created a kind of ‘Threes Company’ featuring me, him and his cat. He was just a flight of stairs away and we saw each other all the time. We drank wine on his patio, ate breakfast on mine. He played piano as I read the Sunday papers, and I sometimes felt like I was living in a movie – it was just so lovely.  He was easy going, funny and warm, he liked taking care of things for me and I felt adored. Traits I loved about him. Right up until the relationship ran its course. At which point he became all of those things x 100.

Well he didn’t, but the need to disentangle from him brought all of these personality traits to the fore. And loving and warm, kind of becomes claustrophobic and creepy when you’ve just dumped someone.  I’d have dealt better if he’d have cut off contact like any normal guy.. instead he was just the same, but more eager to prove himself on the off-chance that I might change my mind.

Did I need help carrying my groceries? How was my day? Did I want to check out his new jazz CD? How about I come over for a glass of wine? Was I sure I didn’t need help carrying that from my car?

I had to move.

Did I need help packing my boxes? Did I need him to arrange a moving truck? Was I ok?

ARGH… GO AWAY.

To be honest, he was just being nice and trying to make it easy, but within a few weeks every single thing about him made my skin crawl and the air suck out of my lungs. Thankfully once I moved, he adopted the usual post-relationship model of ‘see you around’ and I never heard from him again.

(sorry people who stay friends with their ex’s… but I think you’re really weird)

My neighbor currently finds herself in a similar situation. Before she thrilled at the sight of her new boyfriend across the courtyard.. now he’s an ‘ex’, she skulks around unless she’s looking her best. Before she was warmed by the sight of him through his window.. now she has to watch him date other women though the very same window.  We don’t ever think of the ‘after’ when we’re in the ‘before’ stages, but I’m betting she’ll give it a thought before she dates again.. and I sure will after the latest foray.

What once was intensity and focus has become obsessive and weird. The traits which advertised him as a good catch – consistency, rigor and thoughtfulness – have resulted in text after text, email after email looking for explanation, throwing accusations and character assassinations every which way. This morning I am apparently ‘mentally ill’ and ‘a complete nutter’ and that was just the text I read.

Before I was smitten.. two weeks later, I’m frankly, quite scared.

Which leads to today’s advice. Always spare a thought for the ‘after’ before you start. All those characteristics and personality traits which you find so charming today.. spare a thought for what they’d look like turned against you. Because while you’re hopeful and sure that this one is going to work.. likelihood says that it might not. Whether you dated for 2 weeks or 2 years, one day you could be ducking and dodging, screening and blocking at some point in the future.  And while we might wish that they’d just ‘go away’ once we’ve pressed delete on their number.. not everyone does.

Dating over 40: Listening to Your Gut

Dating over 40: Listening to your Gut

We’ve all been dumped. We’ve all dumped someone. Largely it sucks but sometimes, wonderfully and rarely, sometimes.. it just makes you laugh.  And I am laughing this week.

After a few weeks of a lovely ‘getting to know you’ dates – the usual Colorado mix of hikes, beer gardens, dinners and dogs- I decided that while my date was smart, somewhat together and nice.. he just wasn’t the one for me. I didn’t really want to rip off his clothes with my teeth and to be honest, he stopped having a sense of humor after our second date. And if there’s two things I need in a guy, its mad chemistry and the ability to laugh. Because being with me.. you’re going to need a sense of humor (skin like an elephant and a butt you can bounce a quarter off doesn’t hurt either).

And even though I want a boyfriend, I’m not that motivated to keep dating just to ‘have a dude’ and found myself pondering the process of dumping someone who’s not got any obvious flaws..you’re just not ‘feeling it’. My head said ‘ wow he’s great’ but my gut said ‘nope.. move along. nothing to see here’.

As anyone dating over 40 will know.. you don’t take this decision lightly. Its not like you’re panning for the gold in the 1880s; these days there really aren’t that many nuggets left in the creek. And finding one who’s employed, articulate and not a Republican.. even rarer.  But despite proceeding slowly, getting to know him before getting naked and really starting to ‘like’ the guy.. I still found myself thinking ‘um no’ at the thought of getting naked. I really liked him.. I just didn’t ‘like-like’ him.

So after much thought (and not a little consultation from my lady friends), I decided to cut this thing off at the knees before he started planning our Labor day or our Thanksgiving or any ‘L’ words started being thrown around. I felt like a picky bitch, but hey, if you’re not feeling it, you’re not feeling it.

But he made it easy… oh so easy.

I spent the day wrestling with why and how to walk away from a ‘really nice guy’ for reasons not completely clear in my head, (but obvious to my gut). Was I just getting too picky in my old age? What was it really? And could I get over it? Was it fixable or was it just that I wasn’t giving it a chance? Why was I not head over the heels for this guy? It made no sense.

But it all started to crystallize when I showed up for dinner on Saturday night.

Now I’m not a clothes Nazi. In fact my ex wore jeans and t shirt every single day of our 2 years of dating and subsequent 3 year marriage. He wore Tevas to get married in. Didn’t bother me in the least. He had favorite boxer shorts that I physically threw out – twice- but I do have some standards.

You should not, not ever, show up for dinner wearing faded Mom jeans pulled up to your mid chest. Nor should you ever… ever… wear jeans that don’t reach your shoes. Nope.. not even if you’re Italian.  And if I’m reminding you, ever so gently, that the restaurant is ‘kind of up scale’ and I am wearing a dress and heels, this does not mean ‘you look awesome’. No.. this means ‘you need to change into pants or at least jeans which reach your shoes’. And if you must wear a Tommy Bahama shirt.. no man (unless he’s Kevin James), needs to wear an XXXL. I don’t care how comfortable you feel wearing a super large shirt – this isn’t bed you’re not meant to be that comfortable.

But hey.. he’s a nice guy. And I’m really not a clothes horse myself so I figured that after a cocktail, I really wouldn’t care. So he looked like my Dad… no biggy.

Except it was. Because as all women know, we spend a lot of time on looking nice. (even if we’re only a 6 or a 7 on the scale of attractiveness). We get our nails done, we get our roots highlighted, we push away dessert, we sweat it out at the gym (ok, that one is for me.. but you still get the benefits), we consistently buy clothes and shoes that accentuate our best features and we always, always want to look nice for a date. Whether its the first date or the 10th year of dating, its our way of showing you that we care, that we want you to feel proud to be out with us, and dammit, we want you to want us.

Which apparently this guy didn’t get at.all.

How many guys, dressed up for a nice dinner at an expensive restaurant, would take a women out to dinner who showed up in old jeans and a big baggy t shirt paired with an old pair of Dankso clogs? 10%? 20%? How about NEVER?  Because this has NEVER happened. No woman would even consider showing up for a Saturday night, fancy restaurant date, dressed like she doesn’t give a shit.

But this only occurred to me after the fact. Instead, I just mentally filed it as ‘wow.. casual Colorado’ and we went to dinner. And if I felt slightly embarrassed that you could see 2 inches of sock when he walked, I didn’t say anything because… well… it was only date #6 and I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. I knew this was our last date and it cemented that I was never tearing this guys clothes off…ever. ..unless there was a nearby bonfire.

Sure there were a number of things which didn’t click, but the lack of effort in trying to make himself attractive to me… well it put the cherry on the sundae for me. Because if you don’t care now… you sure aren’t going to care in a year.. or five years… or ever.
My head finally had something tangible to grasp and my gut cheered along.

So I made the break. Nicely, politely and lightly as determined by our few weeks of dating.
It happens. You like someone.. but not ‘like-like’. You say ‘thank you, nice getting to know you’ and you move on. No drama. No biggy.

Which is when the ‘real’ version of my date appeared and my gut feel of ‘nope’ suddenly made sense…..

Text messages, nasty emails, accusations and personal attacks. A listing of my failures as a person and as a datable woman (or undateable woman). Wow…the man was mean. And nasty. And I don’t care how hurt you are…no rational human being who has known someone a few weeks acts like that.

Which is when it struck me. Sometimes you gut knows more than your head.  And my gut apparently knew that this guy… not.for.me.

And while you shouldn’t ever judge a book by its cover, if its rocking Mom jeans and an XXXL Tommy Bahama shirt the universe is trying to tell you to judge ..judge away my friend. Judge away.

What’s that smell?

What’s that smell?

 I’ve always had a thing about ‘smell’. From the first boyfriend (Drakkar Noir) through my college years (Cool Water), to my first serious boyfriend (Polo) to my last (Armani Code)..I can remember smells almost more than actual events. Growing up on a continent where cologne is de rigeur, Old Spice will forever be my Dad, and watching a man slap on some cologne,  always one of the most intimate things to enjoy.   

When I first moved to the US I found it weird that men didn’t ‘do’ cologne and that those who did were generally regarded as ‘hiding something’ or ‘gay’ (their quotes not mine). What had historically seemed as much a part of shaving as foam and a razor, was entirely missing amongst men in the States.
When I mentioned it to the few guys I dated early on, I was met with jeers of ridicule and protestations that ‘that’s a black guy thing’.
Seriously.. only black men and gay men wear cologne? Where did that leave my Dad and every guy I’d ever dated? But 17 years on, I’ve got to say, black American men – to a one – smell delicious and I’ve never met a gay guy who wasn’t rocking some kind of cologne. Straight guys? Well I’ve stumbled across a few anomalies, but they’re few and far between. Generally, (and having not smelled 99% of America, I have to generalize), American men don’t seem to do much other than soap. Maybe sunscreen.
Which is fine… but kind of a big missed opportunity. Big.

For example, did you know that our sense of smell is the first of our senses to develop when we’re ‘in utero’? Before we’re even born, this sense is full formed and functioning (a weird fact that explains why the smell of cocoa butter is so soothing to me.. my mother practically bathed in it during pregnancy). In fact not only is it one of the most developed of our senses, it actually renews itself every 28 days (taste wins out with renewal every 24 hours). We smell (and taste), better than we will ever see or hear. 

And while 50% of us can’t remember a face after 3 months, your odor recall remains at 65% a whole year after you last were exposed to someone’s smell. Which means while you might not recognize that dude you dated in May, you’re sure as hell going to remember his smell long into next year. Which I guess explains why the faintest trace of Armani Code always makes me smile and I can’t remember much about many of the men who I’ve dated since I got to the US.

While you might like how someone looks, you’d probably be better off smelling and tasting them. It’ll last longer.

In fact 75% of our emotions are triggered by smell, which I guess is something they should factor in to that future dating profile. If only we could smell the guy.. there would probably short cut a whole lot of that time consuming weeding out process. In fact, some personality traits actually affect how a person smells, from extroversion and neuroticism to dominance. Can you imagine if you could scratch and sniff your Match.com profile? Scary.

And women, with our superpower noses, can literally sniff out nut jobs. Due to our ancestral need to mate with a healthy male, we can smell diseases from diabetes to viral infection to schizophrenia. So if you’re turned off by a guys smell.. there might actually be a real reason why.

Note to self.. sniff harder next time.

Of course ‘odor driven dating’ would only work for women, because men’s sense of smell is roughly 50% less effective than our’s (no surprise) which itself peaks right around ovulation. Apparently when we’re ready to mate, smell is actually more of a determining factor than what we see (makes you want to rethink that cologne aversion, doesn’t it?). Guys.. if you want to get it on with your lady.. you might want to take that shower and break out the ‘Sex Panther’.  After all, “it works 60% of the time, all the time”.

But since you’re only smelling 50% of what you’re putting on.. you might want to dial it down a little. If you can smell it on yourself, we’re probably going to be gasping for breath in the car.

But its not just cologne or soap, pheromones, those much maligned compounds from the 80’s, mean that even if you’re an unscented type of a guy who slavishly showers three times a day.. you’re still putting out a smell. I know an ‘unscented’ guy who smells like olive oil, one who smells like grass and I once dated someone who smelled like buttered toast. Whether you want it or not, you smell.

But its just a smell, right?  As long as its not nasty, it doesn’t matter really does it?
Actually, it matters much more than you’d think. As most of us who’ve ever had a cold know, your sense of smell accounts for 75-95% of the impact a flavor has… which means if he smells good, we know he’s going to taste even better (and vice versa). And rarely are you going to get to ‘taste’ us, if you don’t smell good. Which might explain why men without any sense of smell at all, have fewer sexual partners that anyone else. 

Ok. A lot of interesting facts, but what does this smelly stuff actually mean? Really?
For me, no matter how much I find someone attractive and smart, develop rapport and genuinely enjoy their company.. sometimes … you just don’t like the way they smell and that’s that. Game over.
You think that’s high maintenance?  Dan Savage once said ‘I knew I loved Terry when I realized I liked the taste of his spit.’ Apparently a good match is someone with ‘tasty spit’.
I think I need to rethink this online dating thing.