A Case of Mistaken Identity

Dating Profile Mistaken Identity

A funny thing happened on the way to meeting Mr. Possible Right.  I unintentionally crushed on someone else in Mr. Possible’s Tinder profile.  How did this happen? Men, pay attention, and learn some best practices for dating photos.

It was a good beginning. Mr. Possible super-liked me and made the first text move. There was nothing extraordinary in his opening but no red flags either. He wanted to know where I lived, a fair question given the number of geographic mismatches one encounters on dating apps.

As I reviewed his profile, I had to quell my overly suspicious mind, a side effect of being online too long and encountering too many guys who misrepresent themselves.  So what if he went to a relatively obscure university in New Zealand. Perhaps he’s from Middle Earth. I decided to continue communication and hope for the best. After all, I liked what he wrote in his profile and judged him attractive, although I wasn’t sure how recent his photos were.

We volleyed briefly about our respective locations and heights. As a tall woman, I always ask a man his height.

In the spirit of starting a new topic of conversation, I asked Mr. Possible to write a caption for any of his photos. He responded by captioning all of them and then (bonus points) asked about mine.

I read the captions and wondered about Mr. Possible’s use of “me” rather than “my” in captions mentioning his grandson.  Perhaps he was from New Zealand, Australia, or the UK.

Grandson1

As I went back and forth between the captions and the photos, I suddenly realized that Mr. Possible was not who I thought he was. I really did LOL (a rare use of this hated acronym).

Read my response to find out what happened.

Well, this is pretty funny.  Apparently I’ve been crushing on your grandson. Only one man’s face is visible in the first picture and since your profile has 3 photos of the same man, I assumed this man was you.  You have to appreciate that men put photos from just about every stage of life on Tinder – from babyhood on up – and often do not post current photos. And they often misrepresent their age.  Perhaps you can post another full body shot of you.  As for me, the 2nd photo is from the…(redacted in the interest of anonymity).

As I wrote my reply to Mr. Possible, I considered that he might take offense at my response.  But in typical Nadia fashion, I decided to forge ahead anyway.  I couldn’t help myself and I wrote the truth. I thought he was the younger guy.  There was apparently only one visible image of the real Mr. Possible, a head and shoulder shot of a white-haired guy (not nearly as cute as his grandson).  And the real Mr. Possible looked much older than his stated age of 59. His grandson could easily be 59.

As expected, the next time I opened Tinder I found that Mr. Possible had unmatched me.

Just to calm down any readers who might be leaping to the wrong conclusion. I don’t care to date someone two or three decades younger than me (although men do it all the time).  I would and have gone out with men who are 10-12 years younger, but I’m not looking for someone’s grandson.

I don’t think Mr. Possible was deliberately trying to misrepresent himself. I think he was clueless about dating profile photos.

For all the Mr. Possibles who could use a refresher on dating profile photos, here are some best practices:

*Make sure you are the only person in your main profile photo and clearly caption photos with other people.

*Don’t include photos with members of the opposite sex – unless they are relatives – and then, clearly state their relationship to you.

*It goes without saying, though I’m saying it: No photos of you and your recently caught fish, freshly killed deer, or your gun collection.

*To ensure that your photos work on a dating site, view your profile as it appears online AND on your phone. Not all photo formats and sizes work on apps and mobile sites.  If your photo does not comply with the app’s requirements, your head may be inadvertently cropped out (as it was in Mr. Possible’s primary photo, leaving only his grandson visible).

And, gentlemen, if you’re going to post a photo with a younger, hotter man who happens to be your grandson, at least provide a caption.

Until next time, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Resources:

Get A Professional Photo

Online Dating Photo Shoot

Nadia Goes to Vancouver: Solo Trip #2

Vancouver from hotel

As I gazed out the 19thfloor windows of my fancy downtown (Coal Harbor) Vancouver hotel room, I felt like a character in The Matrix movie. Super high-rise buildings, a setting sun, and the haze from far-off forest fires burning in British Columbia had my adrenalin pumping.

Downtown Vancouver’s futuristic, apocalyptic vibe didn’t factor into the Matrix but it inspired other film-makers to use the city as the backdrop for such sci-fi themed movies as Tomorrowland, Deadpool, and Godzilla.

Is it any wonder I had a brief panic attack on the first night of my second solo trip adventure?

It’s been awhile, dear readers, and this is a long post, so chow down slowly on pasta with tomatoes and goat cheese while I share the details of my second solo trip.

When we last explored the solo travel world, I had returned from my first journey – a low-key beach vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  I knew it was time to take a bigger leap out of my comfort zone. If you can’t challenge yourself at age 60+, when, if ever, can you?

Relying once again on the baby steps philosophy, I wanted to visit a foreign English-speaking city I had not been to previously.  Vancouver with its mix of nature and culture seemed like a good choice. I had always wanted to travel there and had even been planning an anniversary trip there before my marriage ended (no sympathy needed– just a fact).

August seemed like the ideal time to visit this city by the water and mountains. It’s the month with the lowest chance of rain and the temperature is ideal for touring around. I booked a hotel and my flights and embarked on travel research.

I no longer feel strongly about adhering to a schedule when traveling. Impromptu off-the-beaten-track explorations can often be the highlights of a trip. But as a solo traveler I wanted to have a rough outline of my days with some planned tours or activities to ensure built-in socializing.

Along with Vancouver-related research, I read solo travel  memoirs for courage and inspiration and looked forward to my adventure.

Back to arrival night: After that first moment’s existential panic (I’m all alone although Neo may be nearby), I texted my brother and started to relax. Connecting with him every evening helped to keep me centered.

The next morning I walked along the glorious Seawall, the 10 km pathway that extends into Stanley Park, and felt my anxiety leave. I had five days and six nights to explore this part of the world on my own terms and at my own pace.

Despite bringing three journals of various sizes, I didn’t keep a travelogue.  I checked off things on my itinerary, a great help in trying to recount this for you.

What I did:

The Lookout at Harbor Center: Tall building with 360°view of the city. Haze from the forest fires interfered with visibility or I would have enjoyed this more.

Vancouver Foodie Gastronomic Gastown Tour: I love food tours. You get to try a local foodie’s curated favorite restaurants along with sides of history and companionship.  As the birthplace of Vancouver, Gastown has loads of history and an eclectic vibe.  This tour, recognized by Forbes as one of the nine best food tours in the world, was a lot of fun and I enjoyed meeting the other travelers. Highlights of the tour: pesto pizza at Nicli Antica and key lime/coconut mousse pie at Mosquito (sadly this restaurant just closed – promise, not my fault).

Key lime mousse

A non-food tour highlight: the 6 pm musical “eruption” of the Steam Clock.

Side note: I signed up for another food tour of Chinatown on a different day but it was cancelled.

Granville Island: Going to Granville Island is a must do for visitors to Vancouver. The immense Public Market is one of the highlights of the island but there are also shops, artist studios, and free entertainment by the waterfront. I enjoyed my afternoon there. The market, which was reminiscent of markets I visited in Barcelona and Madrid, had gorgeous displays of fresh fruit (many unusual varieties), vegetables, pasta, salads, seafood, pastries, herbs…and more.

After wandering and ogling the bounty, I bought a couple of salads and sat outside on a bench to enjoy the sunny day and a musician playing nearby. An age-similar woman sat down next to me and we struck up a conversation. A New Zealander and widow, my seat buddy left her native country to live in Austin,Tx to be near her grandchildren.  She was visiting Vancouver with friends and had stopped at Granville as part of a bike tour.  Like everyone I encountered, she was interested in my trip as a solo traveler but couldn’t imagine doing it herself. I enjoyed our chat and wished she was also traveling solo so I could pal around with her.

After lunch and just for the fun of it, I took a water taxi around False Creek before jumping off at Yaletown, a neighborhood known for its boutiques and restaurants.

Musical nooner outdoor concert: When I was researching this trip and following various Vancouver-based groups on Twitter and Facebook, I learned about a summer outdoor lunchtime concert series in the downtown area.  With impeccable holiday timing, I was able to attend the season’s last concert and walked 20 minutes from my hotel to Hamilton Street to see Coco Jafro.  This Vancouver-based Funk, World Fusion, R&B, Soul, Jazz and Afro-Beats Band had the crowd dancing and smiling.  As I sat there with office workers and locals, I felt like a Vancouverite – not a tourist.

Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium: One of the reasons I chose my hotel was its location within walking distance of Stanley Park. I walked there several times, admiring the water and woodsy views and checking out the enormous Totem Poles.

The  partially outdoors Aquarium was my favorite Park attraction. In addition to a dolphin show, you can also watch the feedings of the sea lions and sea otters.  The playful sea otters charmed me; I couldn’t stop smiling at their crazy antics.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Park: A peaceful garden at the entrance to Chinatown. I missed the tour but enjoyed ambling around, looking at the bonsai trees, the pond filled with lily pads and orange koi fish, and the carefully landscaped space.

VanDusen Botanical Garden: An incredible 54-acre garden. I’m not sure I saw all 250,000 plants and the various animals that live here, but I tried. I spent my last Vancouver afternoon in this garden.  At this point in the trip, I had developed some pretty angry blisters (despite wearing “good” tennis shoes). So I walked, rested, walked, rested – and took a taxi to and from the garden.

Van Dusen Garden

What I didn’t do:

Date: I chatted briefly with a guy on Bumble but deleted his profile when, instead of answering my questions, he wanted to get off the site and chat via whatsapp.

Go on a whale cruise: I was tempted but worried the motion might reignite a recent flare-up of vertigo.

The Solo Experience:

Despite my initial bout of arrival loneliness, I was comfortable and had fun for most of the trip. By the fifth day, however, I longed for a travel companion.  Yes, I could eat by myself and enjoy talking to the wait staff and I could ask a stranger to take a photo of me but I needed more quality people time.  If my other food tour hadn’t been cancelled — or if I had been able to find a fun and nearby meet up to attend — I might give this solo adventure a higher score.

Would I return to Vancouver?  Yes, but I would like to explore this great city with a travel buddy next time.

For my next solo trip, I plan to schedule more tours or people-centered activities such as a cooking or art class.  As for accommodations, I will investigate youth hostels since they provide a built-in social environment and single en suite rooms are sometimes available.  Oh, and I’ll bring a blister prevention kit.  Insert laughing/crying emoji.

Until next time, happy traveling or staycationing!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Failure to Proofread and other Assorted Men’s Dating Profile Mistakes, Chapter 2

blog post june 23

It can be hard to maintain optimism when you’re in a dating dry spell, listening to a soulful Trane track, and feeling the effects of two sleepless nights. In such moments of angst, I like to browse through my screenshot collection of bad, odd, NSFW, or poorly written dating profiles. With a smile, a LOL, or a raised eyebrow, I’m able to regain my joie de vivre.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is a sampling of the best of the worst, with my snide comments. Bonus reading: a message from my inbox.

Sit a spell with some goat cheese, honey, and hazelnut bruschetta and a glass of Provencal rosé  as we review profiles in desperate need of proofreading or a rewrite.   May all of our angst disappear.

France, Texas, Ethiopia…they are all the same. Could this be Google Translate gone awry?

scrn#1

Trust is so important. I would definitely trust a man who came to the U.S. when he was 35 years old and yet also managed to grow up here. Perhaps he matured at age 36. 

scrn#8

Ahh, yes, the kind but vengeful man.  I’d be wary of this yin/yang combination.

scrn#9

I know what comes into my mind when I look into his eyes: Elements of Style.

This excerpt is hard to read, so here’s a larger and still painful version: 

i really feel very much honestly about myself here, but i think the best way , i can shared everything about my dreamed with my star woman,this secret will have to be both of us alone, write million of notes here is like selling my bio..look at my eyes and tell me what comes on your mind .. let build the spark from there ..

scrn#6

Nothing like advertising your services online. Wonder if he meant Scorpio rather than Scorpion?  The latter, however, could yield a painful massage. 

sabletouch revised

If only Tinder WAS more Tender….what kind of bite is he referring to?

scrn#13

In fact, there are lots of guys on Tinder who say “no hookups” but old labels die hard. I happen to like cute woodland animals.

scrn#7

This guy doesn’t list hunting as a hobby or grilling as a way of life but his #1 concern is whether I might be a vegan.  #VeggiesRock

vegan redo

Also new to syntax and proofreading…

scrn#10

There are alternate facts and then there are obvious facts. Would you get to know someone you were NOT interested in?

I couldn’t enlarge the type, so here’s a readable version:

I have a dry sense of humor and adventurous when you get to know me. I believe we will get to know each other more if we are both interested in each other.

scrn#12

???

scrn#4

I don’t get the door knob reference.  Please comment if you know what this means!

doorknow

Apparently he received quite an education…

west point

Wait for it.

Retyped for readability:

I am certainly prepared to give myself totally to my woman, and I do mean totally, and I expect her to give hisself totally to me in return.

hisself

One track mind times two:

onetrackmind1onetrackmind2

And then I stumble across a couple of profiles that make me smile in a good way.

#1

scrn#5

#2

scrn#16

Until next time, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Second Chances: When Exes and Former Dates Reappear

hand through laptop

Have you ever accidentally swiped left on Tinder or Bumble and thought, damn it, I just missed the love of my life?  Well, no worries.  Chances are if the guy is local, you’ll have another chance to choose him.

I’ve learned that the dating life is like that.  You’ll often get another chance to match with a man and exes or guys you dated briefly can reappear.  Call this phenomenon a second chance or, if you’re in a snarky mood, dating reflux.

I’ve had a few examples of exes reappearing. These reentries do not qualify as breadcrumbing behavior where an old flame gets in touch irregularly to keep a love interest on the hook.  Instead, these encounters highlight the “small world” of online dating.

Let’s discuss while celebrating summer with a taste of warm eggplant and mint salad.

About 10 months ago, I reached out to Mr.J, a man on OurTime. I liked his photos and self-description. Although his profile showed a heavy interest in sports (not my thing), he was also interested in cultural events and outdoor activities.  I took a risk and wrote to him. He responded and after a brief written exchange I suggested a phone call.

We talked for about 15 to 20 minutes. No red flags emerged (my primary reason for scheduling a phone call), but the conversation was lackluster. Had Mr.J followed up, I likely would have gone out with him just to see if there was any in-person chemistry. However, he didn’t reach out and I soon forgot about him.

Unexpectedly, a couple of weeks ago Mr. J viewed me again on Our Time. I revisited his profile and took renewed interest in his 6’5” height (call me shallow).  I decided to be brave and write to him. I acknowledged our brief conversation about a year ago and suggested we meet sometime. “Sure,” he wrote. “Good timing. My subscription ends tomorrow and I’m not renewing.”

We arranged to meet for a drink about halfway between our locations. He lives about an hour away from me so dating would be a challenge. But I was game. I was feeling the weight of a dating dry spell and willing to venture out beyond my ideal geographic location.

After a stressful drive, difficult parking, and the joy of getting lost while walking from the parking lot to the meeting point, I was ready for the 6’5” blue eyed hug that Mr. J gave me. Yes, I was reminded why I like guys taller than me.

Mr. J opened up the conversation with a comment/question about something in my profile.  Things were looking up.  However, this initial promise was not fulfilled.  The conversation soon turned to 95% about Mr. J, his previous relationships, his children, his ex-wife’s alcoholism, etc.  He asked an occasional question or two about me but swiftly transitioned from my responses to more about him.

The kicker? He kept looking up at the TV over the bar. I require good eye contact and so I asked if he could look at me and not the TV. “Just checking the score,” he said before continuing to glance at the television every couple of minutes. I’m sure my comment was a deal breaker for him just as his screen gazing killed any chemistry I initially felt.

I went to the ladies room and when I returned Mr. J had paid the bill.  At that point, I think we were both ready to say goodbye. Mr. J was gentleman enough to help me find my car and gave me a light business-like hug goodbye.

As I drove home, I knew I would not go out with Mr. J again but felt no need to communicate that to him, unless he suggested another date.  Later that night, Mr. J texted to say he enjoyed meeting me but didn’t think we were a match. Despite my lack of interest in him, I still felt rejected.  Why did he feel compelled to provide an assessment? I would have preferred that he just not get in touch with me.

Do I need to start messaging first dates I don’t want to see again to let them know I don’t think we’re a match? I think this kind of preemptive strike is unnecessary but it feels better to reject than to be rejected.

Next!

It turns out the next potential second chance was Mr. K, a guy I matched on Tinder and had briefly dated a couple of years ago.  See how exes keep coming back? Although Mr. K had some positive attributes, I couldn’t wrap my head around his politics and his single-minded devotion to sexual pursuit. So I told him I didn’t think we should continue dating.

He wasn’t heartbroken but texted that he thought I could be missing out on some adventure.  Perhaps. When a few weeks ago, I saw Mr. K’s profile on Tinder, I wondered if I should give him another chance.  His profile was a bit different this time – more pictures and a mention of a blog he writes on dating, with the name of the blog listed.  I keep my blog confidential so Mr. K’s mention of his surprised me.

Before I swiped one way or the other on Mr. K, I checked out his blog and even searched to see if he wrote about me.  He began posting after we stopped dating and I was not mentioned.

I briefly fantasized about the idea of a meet cute situation: two dating bloggers who used to be involved reconnect over their blogs.  But political differences compelled me to say no (swipe left) to renewing a relationship with Mr. K. Did he swipe right on me? I’ll never know – unless I encounter him on another site or in real life.  Like I said, these exes keep coming back.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Voice Mail from an Ex

voice mail from an ex

The voice mail message sat on my home phone answering machine for over a week before I listened to it.

“Hi Nadia, this is Z. We went out once or twice. Hope you are well. I wonder if you have 10 minutes to talk. I have a rather awkward question to ask you.”

I listened to the message twice. I was confused and a bit alarmed. Mr. Z and I had briefly dated about 3 years ago. We got together 4 or 5 times. One time we attempted the 36 questions. I liked him but could not imagine a future with him due primarily to his religion-based lifestyle. I didn’t want to ghost him so when he called one day to arrange a date I told him the truth and said goodbye.

I racked my brain wondering what the awkward topic might be. My mind started making up all kinds of wild scenarios. I checked my medical files and was reassured that I had a clean STD-free bill of health. Oh, wait; I didn’t have sex with Mr. Z. Could I have some new STD that takes 3 years to develop? Oh, wait; I didn’t have sex with Mr. Z. So you see my bizarre and non-logical thought process. It was the word awkward that threw me. What could be awkward? Perhaps he was dating someone I know. There was only one way to find out. I needed to call him back.

“Hi Z,” I began, “Sorry about my delayed response to your message. I rarely listen to my home machine since it’s usually filled with sales calls.”

“No worries,” he said, “and thanks for calling back. I have an odd question to ask you,” he said.

“I’ve been dating someone for about a year and she’s a terrific person. But she’s not a very good kisser. We’ve talked about it – or tried to but I don’t have good language to describe to her what I want. I even gave her a book on kissing. But nothing has changed. Last weekend, I was thinking about it and I thought, who do I know who’s a good kisser. That’s why I called you. Also, because you’re a words person and I thought you might give me some language.”

I laughed. I was relieved (again, remember my weird thought process), somewhat flattered (he remembers my kisses 3 years later), and touched by Mr. Z’s heartfelt desire to attempt a “fix” with a woman he obviously cared about.

I shared my relief and worries about the nature of his call. “But we didn’t have sex,” he said. “I know,” I said, “it doesn’t make sense.”

I asked Mr. Z if his friend was offended when he gave her a book on kissing – or even during his talks with her about it. “No,” he said, “we’re able to be very honest with each other and we don’t take offense at suggestions.”

I can tell you right now that if a guy I was dating gave me a book on kissing I would be offended…but apparently (insert smiley face), I don’t need to worry about that happening.

The rest of our conversation was a brainstorming session led by me, Kissing Therapist. Just call me KT. “Do you think she likes kissing?” I asked. “Who doesn’t like kissing?” Mr. Z replied.

Kissing is not important to everyone. From my experiences and conversation with friends, some people just ‘aren’t that into it.’ They may enjoy sex but kissing is not that essential to them. Perhaps they grew up with a less than affectionate family. Oh, wait; I’m not a psychotherapist, just a kissing therapist. I happen to love kissing. And I think that’s a prerequisite for success.

I also suggested that Mr. Z consider whether his friend is a sensual person, a trait that I believe is associated with good kissing.

“Maybe you need to focus on her mouth – but not necessarily kissing,” I suggested, “try feeding her strawberries. Use your imagination.”

The more we talked about the kissing challenge, the more detailed were my suggestions.  No, not everything goes in this blog post. After a few minutes I could tell that it was time to end our conversation. I suggested that Mr. Z might need a cold shower after we hung up.

We laughed. He thanked me for my suggestions and asked if I’d mind if he called me sometime with an update. I said that would be fine. Later I thought about our conversation. Women often say they train their male partners to be better lovers so I guess it’s reasonable to assume that a man could “train” a woman to be a better kisser. What do you think? Have you ever stopped dating someone because he was a bad kisser? Would you try to “fix” the situation before breaking up? Let me know.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating. And, hopefully, happy kissing.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Solo Trip

solodiarycoverpix

Day 1 (Monday):

I’m sitting at the JetBlue gate at Reagan National waiting for my flight to Tampa, Florida when I get a “like” and “comment” in support of my solo travel virgin post. I consider this a good omen! Update: my daughter couldn’t join me after all so this will truly be my first solo vacation trip (business trips do not count).

You’ll need fuel for this long post so have a generous helping of a yummy dish I made last night: baked cod with olives and limes .

solodiarycod

Finally on the plane, I stretch out in the exit row. It’s definitely worth the extra money to be able to extend my long legs. No one is sitting next to me — a rare luxury. Sadly, this also means there’s no chance I’ll be sitting next to an attractive male. I have no qualms about sitting in the exit row. I work out and swim and am capable of opening up the emergency door if needed. Good to feel empowered!

As the plane takes off, I give myself a silent reminder to lose my typical Resting Bitch Face expression for the duration of the trip. Let’s see how this goes!

Evening 1 (Monday):

After picking up my rental car at the Tampa Airport, I drive the 75 minutes or so to Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island.

I chose this area because of the beautiful Gulf Coast sand and clear water that I love so much and my impression of a laid back, casual town with enough restaurants, bars (with music), and shops to keep me mildly entertained.

As a solo traveler, I didn’t want a high end fancy resort populated by couples and families.

I picked my hotel for it’s “practically on the beach” location in the center of town. Hotel reviews promised a casual vibe and there is an on site restaurant/bar with nightly live music. As a bonus, my room has a full kitchen.

I arrive at the hotel about 6 pm. After the obligatory quick walk on the beach to check out the sand and surf, I decide that the best social option for dinner is to eat at the hotel bar.

Only a few people are sitting at the bar. It seems strange to plop myself next to them when there are so many empty seats so I pick a location at the end with a nice view of the beach and sunset across the street. I enjoy the ambiance and my well-made skinny margarita. I try to relax and not worry that I don’t have anyone to talk to.

After a short time, a group of 5 people arrive and sit next to me. Soon they engage me in their conversation. Lovely! One of the women and I talk about extroversion and reaching out proactively to talk to strangers. I am impressed by her confidence. She says she puts on a different persona when she travels. She’s more outgoing when she’s not in her hometown and is unafraid to initiate conversation with men.

After we finish our drinks and food, some of us decide to explore other nearby bars with music.

We find a lively bar with an engaging band and I even get up to dance solo, along with several other women. Note: I am typically a shy dancer who is most comfortable shaking it alone in my living room.

Day 2 (Tuesday):

It’s a beautiful morning and I stroll down the street to a dockside restaurant. I enjoy my standard egg white/veggie omelet outside by the water.

solodiarybreakfast

After breakfast, I drive to the local grocery store for provisions. While checking out, I get a text from one of my new “met at the bar” friends. She’s flying home today and asks if I’d like to meet the group for lunch in an hour. How nice to get the invite but the beach calls to me so I decline. A few hours later, I make plans to meet another group member, Ms. A, for dinner Wednesday night.

Finally – I’m on the beach. Once in the water, I swim confidently but the current carries me farther out than I intend. I’m in deep water and the shore seems far away. Plus I wore myself out and I’m tired. No family members or friends are keeping an eye on me and there’s no lifeguard. My swimming form degrades, as I try not to panic and do a toddler crawl to get toward shallower water. I’m soon back on the sand feeling silently chagrined (no one knows what happened) and remind myself of the ocean’s power – particularly when I’m alone.

Evening 2 (Tuesday):

I want to be pampered for dinner tonight so I head to the Beach House and ask for an outside table for one. It’s lovely to relax near the water as the sun sets. I’m sitting near a family with an infant and young children and another table of teenage gigglers enjoying a grown-up dinner. I’m happy to be past these life stages and savor my wine and grilled fish. After dinner, I stroll through the town and even though I’m pretty well stuffed I stop by a soft ice cream place for a vacation indulgence.

Day 3 (Wednesday):

Today the water is like glass (another reason to love the Gulf) and so clear I see a starfish on the ocean floor. Swimming is effortless today. A school of small fish decide to bump me on their way south. Later a huge manatee swims by as everyone on the beach strains to see. I practice my Spanish with a young family from Argentina and chat with a woman who moved here from Maryland. I think my Resting Bitch Face is on vacation.

While drying out in the warm sun, I play with my dating apps. There are certainly more potential matches in Florida compared to the DC area. This is another reason to go on solo trips. I chat online with two Bumble matches. One sends me his cell number and I use my premium whitepages account to get his name. Further searching pulls up his photo on mugshots.com. Sigh! No more dates with ex-cons (a post for another day).

The other Bumble match is either a fiction writer or I’m way out of his league. After I challenge him and he unmatches me, I wonder if I’m jaded and overly suspicious. Have I rejected a good prospect? Details to be provided in a future post.

Evening 3 (Wednesday):

I drive across a bridge to the tiny waterfront town of Cortez where I meet Ms. A at a dockside restaurant/fish market. Tonight’s dinner was swimming in the Gulf a few hours ago.

Ms. A and I get to know each other. I’m impressed with her sense of adventure. She’s another example of a woman starting over and making a new life after a marriage ends.

Day 4 (Thursday):

Another perfect beach day with water like glass. No daytime adventures other than reading a good “beach romance.”

Evening 4 (Thursday):

Mood check: So far I feel okay on this trip. I am wondering, however, if I’ll meet more people. If I’m to gain confidence with solo traveling, I need to feel that my Monday night socializing was not a fluke.

I’ll have my chance to find out tonight when I return to the restaurant/bar under my hotel.

I arrive about 6 pm. The bar is fairly empty and I find a seat with a view of the ocean. It’s clear that I’m a creature of habit as I order a skinny margarita.

I look around and notice an attractive man sitting alone across the bar. As I assess him, I conclude he is too young and too short for me. Still I know I should smile at him but can’t seem to do so. This is something I need to work on. I remind myself that a smile is not necessarily a come-on but it boils down to being a shy ambivert and fearing rejection. I can handle online rejection but it’s harder for me to contemplate an in-person snub.

While I’m inwardly berating myself, a couple in their 70s walks in and sits next to me. At that moment, my fish n’ chips arrives. “Good choice,” says the man in a British accent. I laugh and ask if that’s his real accent. It’s real and I learn that the couple lives just outside of London. We have a delightful conversation about their trips to the US, my trips to Europe, our respective children, their grandchildren, etc. At one point, I notice the man across the bar has left. After dinner, I say goodbye to the couple and go for an evening walk on the beach. I feel a little lonely as I watch couples and family groups strolling by.

As if on cue, my daughter calls to see how I’m doing; I instantly feel better.

Day and evening 5 (Friday): 

It’s perfect weather for my last day at the beach. Mood check: I am feeling a little lonely.

A planned dinner with Ms. A is cancelled when her mother has a health crisis. I opt for another dinner at my hotel bar. No connections are made tonight and I only talk to the bar staff. It’s time to go home.

Day 6 (Saturday):

I head to a gas station near the airport to fill up before returning the rental car. Tampa Airport is well organized with good signage and soon I’m having a leisurely pre-flight lunch with a glass of wine at…yes, you guessed it…an airport bar/restaurant.

Mood check: I’m feeling very competent at the moment. I enjoyed my first solo vacation and made some connections. Although I had a few lonely moments, I have those at home too.

Considering a solo trip? Some insights/lessons learned:

*A beach trip can be a good first solo vacation. Days are easy and with the right town, nights can be fun.

*Pick a relaxed friendly beach town with enough bars, restaurants, and shops so you have options for things to do. Three to four full days and nights (two travel days) is a good length for a first solo trip.

*Read solo travel blogs for travel tips.

*Pick a hotel with a bar/restaurant or one that has nearby bars/restaurants so you have built-in and nearby dining options.

*Eat dinner at the bar if you want to socialize. There’s a good chance people will initiate conversation and you can practice being proactive.

*Be friendly and talk to as many people as you can – people near you on the beach, people swimming, staff at bars and restaurants, and shopkeepers. Even if you don’t make a friend, you’ll feel less lonely.

*Call, text, and email family and friends to feel connected and especially if you’re feeling lonely.

*Visit any dating sites and apps you belong to for a new crop of potentials. If you’re lucky, you might even meet someone in person. As always, use due diligence to vet anyone you meet.

Until next time, happy travels and dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Dating Newbies: Top 10 Questions

83D7247C-B145-4FEA-B436-8B1FC348A8C5

“I don’t know anything,” said my separated friend when I mentioned a date I had the previous day. She was not dating yet but looking ahead to that day when her divorce would be final. “Who pays?” she asked. “What about the first kiss? What do you say when you want to end the date?” She sighed, “It all seems so difficult.”

For long-time marrieds going through a divorce or experiencing life after the death of a spouse, dating in 2018 can be a culture shock. Here’s a short guide for dating newbies with answers to the top 10 questions.

Let’s discuss the answers over some of Ellie Krieger’s creamy Parmesan spring vegetable skillet. Have two helpings – this is a long post.

Q: I joined a couple of dating sites and started communicating with a couple of guys. One of them asked me to dinner but I thought a coffee date was what people usually did. What should I do? Also, what about checking out the guy online before I meet him?

A: For your first date, it’s best to plan something that takes no more than an hour.* If you are not enjoying the date, you don’t want to be stuck. My favorite first date is meeting for a happy hour drink, appetizer optional. Wine or a cocktail helps with nerves and a drink is time limited. If you’re having a great time, you can always extend into dinner or a stroll outside. A coffee date can work as well – or even meeting for a walk in a public place.

See my posts on dating security for guidance on checking out an online connection before you meet. Update to previous posts on security: Thanks to the recent Facebook controversies, searching for someone’s phone number in the Facebook search bar is no longer an option.

*I break the no meal rule for men who drive a long distance to meet me. I know I’ll have to stick it out even if there is no attraction. However, I also will leave at any point on a date if the guy is rude, crude, or not a nice dude (apologies for shameless rhyming).

Q: How can I gracefully end a date with a guy I realize I’m not interested in?

A: Think about an ending that works well for your situation. The friend I mentioned earlier has three children at home. She has a built in excuse, “I need to get home to my kids.”

Here are some exit lines I have used:
*I’m dog sitting and need to go walk or feed the dog
*I have people coming for dinner and need to go prep
*Sorry but I need to leave (with no further explanation offered).

You could also arrange for a rescue by a friend or relative. He or she can text you 45 minutes into the date. You can then say, “Something has come up and I’m sorry but I need to leave.” Feel free to embellish on the reason – crisis at home, work, etc. These are what I call harmless white lies.

Q: What about paying? What if I want to leave before the check arrives?

A: When my date asks for the check, I’ll offer to help pay. He may say, “I’ll cover it” or he may take you up on your offer.

Perhaps you want to leave before your date asks for the check. If this is the case, give your reason (see above) and ask, “Can I give you something for the check?”

I have been on dates where I left after one drink but the guy stayed on to have dinner. *If I know in the first 10 seconds that I have no interest in a person, I make sure I don’t order any food and stick to one drink so I can leave after a short time.

Q: What about the first kiss?

A: I’ve covered greetings and endings in this blog. I prefer to hug hello and if I feel inclined will fend off a handshake and turn it into a hug.

There’s a whole spectrum of guy behaviors re: that first kiss. Some kiss you hello, some kiss you at the end of the first date, and some men kiss you in the middle of the first date. If he doesn’t kiss you, he may be shy or unsure of your interest.
On a few occasions I have made the first move to kiss. It’s always nice when the kiss is mutually initiated (the magnet effect)…and well executed. Tip #keep breath mints in your purse and your car.

Q: What if he asks me out on date #2 while we’re still on date #1?

A: I was thrown the first time this happened to me. I wasn’t sure about the guy who asked so I said maybe to his “can we get together again?” Truly a wishy-washy response but sometimes that’s the best you can do. If you want to see Mr. X again, there really isn’t an awkward moment. Just say yes.

Q: How soon after the first date can I expect him to contact me? Should I initiate contact?

A: Timing of communication is another issue with a wide range of behaviors. Sometimes a guy will call or text you within an hour after you leave a date; or you might not hear from Mr. X until the next day. The sooner you hear from him, the more likely he’s into you but a 24 hour delay doesn’t mean he’s not interested. Life is like that.

If you had a good time on the date and liked Mr. X, I think it’s fine to text him a few hours after your encounter or the next morning. I wouldn’t wait too long. All you need to say is “It was great meeting you” OR “I had a good time yesterday. Thanks for the drink.” If it’s your style, include an emoji. I like winks and smiley faces with sunglasses. If you have shared a kiss or three at the end of the date, you could use a smiley face blowing a kiss.

Bonus re: communication:
When you are communicating with a guy, be aware of any change in frequency or tone of communication. A change could be a signal that he is withdrawing. Similarly, if you feel a need to pull back, slow your responses and keep them briefer. Sometimes a slow fade away is preferable to a text, phone call or email to say, “This is over.”

Q: What if the first date went well, but there was no chemistry? Should I go out with him again?

A: Some dating experts say chemistry doesn’t always occur right away but often surfaces after you know someone better. Since I have experienced a delayed chemistry phenomenon, I might go out with a guy a second time for an attraction check. People are often nervous on the first date and they may not be their “best selves.”

Date #2 is often a reality check. I have been attracted to a guy on a first date but when I see him again I wonder “What was I thinking?”

Q: I went out with this guy (insert various number of dates) and it looks like we’re likely to have sex in the near future. I’m nervous about a lot of things – STDs, the way I look without clothes, timing.

A: Here’s the teen-like déjà vu moment when you’ve been in a long marriage or relationship and haven’t thought about STDs in a couple of decades. Be a scout and always be prepared. Buy condoms in case you have a moment and he doesn’t have any (shop on Amazon if you’re wary of running into neighbors at the drug store).

When the topic of sex comes up, have a discussion about using protection and/or getting tested for STDs. Ignore “I got tested two months ago.” Suggest to Mr. X that you both get tested and show each other the results. You need to see that piece of paper!

Ignore: “I give blood so I get tested frequently.” Giving blood does not test for 100% of STDS (chlamydia is not part of the blood donation test, per my gynecologist). Again, you need to see something in writing and the test needs to be done after you have this talk. Use a condom until the results are in or abstain.

I find that women are more concerned about body image than men. Male readers, feel free to disagree about this. Low lighting and candles may ease some self-consciousness and add to the romance.

Oh, and that moment when you’re lighting the candles for your first post separation or post divorce encounter might be the time to say, “It’s been awhile” to your partner. If you’re both newbies, this may be a shared issue. Just stating this fact will make you feel better and explain any nervousness.

Timing of sex: This is another “huge range” issue. A couple might have sex on date #1 or date #15. And, yes, there does seem to be something about expectations and date #3. However, do what feels right for you.

Q: I’m nervous about online dating. Can’t I just meet guys in real life?

A: Yes, of course you can and should try to meet guys in real life. See blog tags meeting men in real life and meeting men in the wild for suggestions on how to meet guys offline. Consider real life tactics and online dating. Neither method is perfect but the more things you do, the greater your chance of success.

Q: Any other general guidance?

A: You’re going to make “mistakes” or what I term “recall cringe moments.” Those are the moments when you think back to what you said or did on an encounter and ask yourself, “How could I have said or done that?” or you think “I was too sarcastic” or — insert any of a number of possibilities.

You’re human and you’re learning to navigate a new world. You will do or say things you’ll regret. That’s okay. Mr. X is making mistakes as well.

The more experiences you have – good or bad – the more you’ll understand what you do and don’t want in a relationship or partner. Along the way, you’ll discover all kinds of things about yourself and claim or reclaim your female power. You go girl.

Send any other questions my way.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO
Nadia