Nadia Tries Cooking Classes

cooking class

I’m getting ready for App-less April by trying to do new things in real life that might lead to an in-person romantic connection. Online dating increasingly discourages me. It can work and should be part of every single’s dating armamentarium (emphasis on the men). But for me it involves a high investment of time, money, and energy with a very low rate of return.

Dating experts say you can meet people anywhere – the grocery store, the gym, the line at the bank, walking your dog, etc. So far my daily routine has not brought me a love interest. So I’m branching out…and my first endeavor: cooking classes.

To whet your appetite for this post, enjoy some spring green risotto. I made this one Thanksgiving – substituting veggie stock for the chicken stock. Serve with grilled shrimp for a lovely decadent meal.

My cooking class theory: There are a lot of single men who might be interested in learning to cook or improving their skills. Perhaps, before their divorces, their wives did most of the cooking. Now, they are tired of takeout or they want to be able to cook for their children or a date. And, like me, they wonder if a cooking class would be a good way for them to meet a romantic partner.

I like to cook and have a fair amount of skill in this area but can definitely learn more. It’s important to have an interest in whatever extra activity you do to meet men. That way you’re having fun and/or learning something regardless of the meet-cute potential.

I searched for cooking classes and found a convenient venue with a good variety of types of classes and times. My first class was observation only. The time: 5:00 p.m. on a weekday. The subject was pad Thai, a dish I had once tried obsessively to perfect. My at-home experiment involved a variety of recipes using different ingredients and cooking methods. I ended up with tasty dinners but none of them tasted as if they had been made in a Thai restaurant. A pad Thai class could be the answer to both my recipe and man obsession.

Only one other person signed up for the class and….it was an age and height appropriate divorced man. His motivation for taking the class was cooking for his vegetarian college age daughter. Theory proved! Sadly, he was not my type. The only sparks were on the stove.

And the recipe was not my type either — too salty, too spicy, and did not taste like a Thai restaurant entrée. However, I did pick up some useful cooking tips including one for tofu: After pressing tofu to reduce the water content, dust it in cornstarch—not flour — before frying for a crispy, not greasy end result. Okay — maybe you knew that already but it was news to me and I was happy to learn about it.

The second class was hands on and involved three seafood dishes, including one with mussels. I love mussels but have never cooked them. Is there a word for fear of cooking bivalves? I had cooked scallops before and shrimp (not bivalves but on the cooking class menu). But mussels (and clams) always intimidated me. Perhaps it was the fear of not recognizing a bad mussel?

There were 12 of us in the Saturday afternoon seafood class but only one man…in his early 80s and with his wife. I was not overly disappointed because, hey, I was about to cook three fabulous dishes. All of these recipes were delicious and I’d share them but they’re not online. Added bonus: I lost my bivalve fear as I learned about ripping the beard off of mussels and rejecting bad mussels. If the shell of a raw mussel is open and won’t close if you hold it shut for 30 seconds it is a bad one OR if the shell of a cooked mussel won’t open after it’s cooked, it’s bad.


It wasn’t my day for romantic serendipity but there was a happy coincidence for two of my class mates. These women had gone to college together in another state, hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, and found themselves placed side by side in the same cooking class.

Until next week, happy cooking and dating or not dating.








The Donkey vs. the Elephant: The Politicization of Dating

politicization of dating

We’d been in the Starbucks for about 15 minutes when Mr. J said, “I’m a Liberal Democrat just to get that out of the way.”

I smiled ruefully as I remembered several recent politically themed online encounters. “No worries, “ I said, “so am I.” We commiserated over the politicization of dating that is tied to the current administration. Neither one of us could remember a time when it felt as important as it does now to declare ourselves politically. This phenomenon may be particularly intense in Washington, D.C. and its suburbs.

I date across racial and religious lines but like Mr. J, I feel a need to rule out people with certain political persuasions. And this is despite being a person who is not immersed in politics or particularly likes extended political discussions. Now political disagreement tends to be more vitriolic. Anger aside, the bottom line for me is that I’d like a partner who has a compatible world view.

I know there are couples who make it work despite opposing political views. I have a theory that if you are not a zealot about your political beliefs there is a greater chance you will be compatible with a partner of an opposing view. I think this is also true for couples of different faiths. It was true for my ex and me. Neither one of us was particularly religious so we made our “blend” work – honoring both religions but focusing on one when our kids were in middle school.

You’re wondering about my recent “political” dating encounters. Perhaps the most frustrating one was with Mr. R. He lived 90 minutes away, a potential deal breaker, but he made frequent trips to my area. We carried on an extensive written chat on Zoosk. He was an accomplished artist, a major plus in my book, and I loved his work. I hoped to meet him. He suggested switching to personal email.

In his first email, Mr. R wrote, “This whole dating thing is getting more mixed up with politics…bringing the site down…have been asked to state my views on abortion, gays, etc. what??! Also bragging that they are part of the resistance…like France in WWII. What? Lots of virtue signaling with absolutely no consequences to fear…lots of big talk, no substance.” He then went on to say that he served in Vietnam and voted for the current president. Mr. R asked if this would be a problem and added “we may as well clear this obstacle now…if necessary.”

I understood his frustration but didn’t like his unexpected angry tone. I thought carefully about my response as I mourned the likely death of another potential relationship. I decided to acknowledge the difficulties but keep a channel open for a potential meeting.

After replying to a question he asked me about music, it was time to address the elephant (pun intended) in the room. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing for people on a dating site to ask each other for their opinions about things that are deal breakers for them,” I wrote, adding, “I know people of different political beliefs can have a successful relationship but I suspect it would be a challenge. Open respectful communication would be paramount. However it might not be enough if – at the core — two people have a different view of humanity and what’s right and wrong.”

I wondered about responding to his mention of serving in Vietnam. In the end I decided to write him that I respect his military service but I was marching against the war around the same time he was fighting it. It was my truth just as being a solder was his.

“Would we have chemistry and connection if we met?” I asked rhetorically, “Would that override our differences, including the geographic one? Hard to know.” I suggested that the next time he was in my area, we could meet for coffee or a glass of wine. “If nothing else, we could commiserate and laugh over the online dating process.”

Mr. R didn’t respond.

My online dating encounters include many other examples of political incompatibility…whether differences are explored online, on the phone, or in person. These interactions are just part of today’s dating zoo.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.






To Volley or Not

blog pix to volley

What does it mean when a match you are communicating with on a dating site or app doesn’t volley with you? You drive the conversation and end up wondering if the guy is uninterested, only mildly interested, deficient in communication skills, or simply narcissistic.

Have some of Analida’s Ethnic Spoon gluten-free Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread while we explore this topic.

My dance card is filled with “bad volleying” experiences including Mr. M, a Tinder match from a few months ago. He opened with “Hey there” and let me ask all of the questions. I called him out when I got fed up with his one sided approach.  As expected, he unmatched me after I blew off some steam:

blox pix opener

And as it sometimes happens, I matched with Mr. M again on Tinder a couple of weeks ago. At first, I didn’t realize it was the same man. After you have been doing this awhile, you get profile overload syndrome and start to lose track of virtual encounters. However, a few texts in I realized I was dealing with Mr. M (he obviously forgot he unmatched me) and found our original conversation in my screenshot diary.

His opening for round 2 was similar to round 1 with an added creative bonus of “How is your day going?” At least he asked me something – even if it was formulaic. Perhaps I had an influence on his behavior. As our chatting progressed, he appeared interested and asked questions about me that related to the topics we were discussing. We were having fun and flirty banter!

When I suggested to Mr. M that one of our topics might warrant a verbal discussion, he sent his phone number. However, instead of a phone call, we continued via text. From what I could tell, he worked extraordinary hours. This might have broken our not yet realized deal. However, I wanted a chance for an in person meeting. That was not to be, however, since he suddenly stopped responding. You have heard this before.

I wondered if I had somehow offended him (always a danger when engaging in banter that can veer toward sarcasm). When I realized it had been 5 days since his last text, I unmatched him on Tinder. Of course Mr. M still had my number and he could have reached out and asked for an explanation. But he didn’t.

I then revisited all of our communications to reevaluate the flirtation and what may have been weirdness and not flirty banter. Case in point: When I asked him for his age and height, he sent me every conceivable measurement a tailor might need, extraneous details such as the fact that he had no piercings, and other unusual facts. Judge for yourself:

blox pix sizing detail

blog pix sizing detail 2

At first I thought this was weird, then I wondered if he was being funny. Now, I’ll never know. Yes, I may be too lenient…but I try to give people a chance.

In another “volley” situation, I initiated a conversation with a guy on Match; he wrote back but didn’t ask anything about me. Not wanting to waste time, I pointed out that sometimes it’s hard to tell after one online dating exchange whether someone is really interested in communicating or is just being polite (yes, I know – most people don’t bother responding if they’re not interested…but some do). He wrote back to say he was interested and hoped to meet in person at some point. He expanded on his profile…but he didn’t ask me anything.

I replied. He hasn’t responded though he’s been online (a very common and frustrating aspect to online dating). Men are online and read your message but don’t respond promptly or ever.) App-less April may come a month earlier for me since I am losing patience with the online dating business.  I’m not losing hope yet: I have a meet-cute IRL opportunity coming up.  Stay tuned for details.

What has been your experience with “matches” who don’t volley initially or ever? Are there some people who can carry on a conversation in person but lose this skill when online? Who else is ready for an early App-less April?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.



The Top 10 Life Skills You Develop When Dating

blog pix Feb 25 2018

Do you sometimes think that the hours you spend on dating and related activities are a huge waste of time? This question assumes you haven’t met “the one,” which, of course, would justify your efforts. But if you feel more frustrated than fulfilled, it might be helpful to look at the dating process as a way to build key life skills.

Chow down on some fish tacos while I share the top 10 life skills you develop when living a dating lifestyle:

*Writing and editing. If you are serious about online dating and pay attention to the dating gurus, you will get lots of practice writing, editing, and rewriting your profile as you strive to freshen your bio and “about” sections. You’ll practice your “writing tight” skills, always valuable in the working world.

*Researching and sleuthing. Whether you meet someone online or IRL, there is often a need to do a little research to ensure your safety and verify Mr. X’s identity and marital status. Over time, and particularly if you read this blog for tips, you will develop impressive research and sleuthing skills. You will soon be able to quickly determine such things as a guy’s relationship status, last name, and potentially his political party. I urge you not to over research – just find out enough to safely proceed.

*Technology skills. The more you use phones, apps, tablets, and laptops the more you increase your technology skills. Messaging, texting, loading photos and profiles – all add to your abilities to function in today’s world.

*Critical thinking. What do you want in a partner? What personality traits does your ideal partner have? What are your relationship deal breakers and makers? Deep reflection on these questions will improve your critical thinking skills.

*Resilience. Ghosted? Bread crumbed? Broken up? Endless swiping with no dates? All of these experiences build resilience – a valuable life skill.

*Listening to your gut. The longer you date, the more you will learn to trust your gut. It’s a helpful barometer of your feelings, the suitability of your partner, the safety of a situation, and the health of your relationship. Once you learn to trust your gut, you will rely on it for help with friendships, family relationships, and professional situations.

*Speaking and reading body language. With all of the people interaction you’re getting, you will become more adept at reading a guy’s body language. You can apply this skill to reading your boss, your co-worker, and your cousin.

*Developing your sense of humor. You’ll get lots of practice laughing hysterically at dating profiles and photos…from pictures taken in hospital beds (I kid you not) or depressing looking gym bathrooms to profiles written at the 3rd grade level. 

*Fitness. So you want to rock that LBD or LRD? In fact you just want to fit into anything “little.” If so, dating will encourage you to be your fittest self. Exercise is good for you – no matter what your motivation. A fit person can cope better with daily and dating stress.

*Multi-tasking. Swiping while having breakfast? Editing your profile in between taking Spanish quizzes on the Babbel app? Choosing a new photo while searching for a photo for a new blog post? All of these tasks build strength in multi-tasking, one of the most important skills – unless you believe it’s counterproductive to “being in the moment.”

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




When Standing Someone Up is Fair Play

blog pix Feb 18

As much as I hate the idea of standing someone up on a date, I wish I had “stood up” a recent Plenty of Fish (POF) match instead of cancelling our planned meeting. It would have been a fitting response to his subterfuge.

Curious about yet another example of #ShittyMaleBehavior? Join me in some spaghetti squash shrimp scampi while I recount this tale.

If you’re on POF, you know the drill. You scroll through the Meet Me feature and say yes or no to an individual based on photos and profile. Sometimes you want to meet someone who doesn’t return the desire and vice versa.

Mr. M and I had a mutual match. I almost didn’t say yes to him. His profile said he was in the area for a couple of years — on “loan” from his university while engaged in work in the DC area. I worried about the possible lack of long term potential but decided to go for it. My philosophy is to be open as much as possible. Anything can happen and someone’s plans can change for the right person.

I liked his profile, which mentioned he had been widowed for 3 years and missed having a companion.

I assumed Mr. M was likely relatively new to online dating. He sent a nice, personalized message to me through the site and asked if I was free this weekend to see if we had chemistry. I always like when a man suggests an in person meeting soon after matching.

I told him I was booked until Monday and we had a little back and forth on venue and time. His car was back in his home state and he relied on metro and Lyft or Uber for transportation. I didn’t like the idea of dating someone without a car. It puts a greater transport burden on me and dammit I like to be picked up when I’m comfortable sharing my home address with someone. Anyway, once again I decided to be open to a less than perfect situation and suggested a venue convenient to metro.

When we had a solid plan, I let Mr. M know that I like to exchange cell numbers after agreeing to meet someone. I didn’t share mine at that point since a major goal was to search his number to ensure my security and verify his identity.

Mr. M sent his number and said he was excited to meet me. A straight Google search turned up nothing. However, searching his phone number in the Facebook search box pulled his profile up. All the basic details in his profile were confirmed. But there were recent photos of him with a woman and comments from friends implied they were in a relationship. When I went to the woman’s profile, I saw photos of the lovely Valentine’s Day bouquet Mr. M gave her. There was lots of evidence of their relationship, including her comment that she’s so lucky to have the love of Mr. M.

Insert random swear words – all will work. My disappointment was matched by my compassion for this lovely, accomplished woman who did not know what her partner was up to some 600 miles away.

Here’s what I wrote to Mr. M:

I’m going to have to cancel our meeting. It appears you are in a relationship. Most women who are online will “research” a potential date to ensure safety (as much as possible) and avoid someone who misrepresents their status. Perhaps you are in an open relationship and if that is the case you should state it in your profile.

On reflection, this was too nice of a message. And it was later when I was recounting the story to my son that I realized I should have let Mr. M make the hour trek on 2 subway lines to meet me tomorrow night, although I would not have shown up.

After I saw that Mr. M read my message, I blocked him. All traces of Mr. M are now gone except for the screen shots I took of his profile. They live on in the cloud with all of the other misbehaving men in my photo gallery.

Cue It’s Only a Paper Moon, Bill Charlap — Live at the Village Vanguard. It’s a good soundtrack for a disappointing post Valentine’s Day non-date.

Takeaway messages for my reader daters: Type someone’s cell number into Facebook to check them out. Consider standing up a guy who has behaved badly. He deserves it.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.



Your Online Self

blog pix online self

I was in the middle of reading Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (With the help of 50,000 Strangers) when a section on the online persona spoke to me.

Sit a spell while having a bowl of this curried lentil, tomato, and coconut soup and let’s discuss.

If you have carried on a long virtual conversation with someone you haven’t met – whether via a dating site, Facebook, or another social media avenue – you will likely recognize the disconnect that can happen if you meet that person in real life.

As Daniel Jones, the author of Love Illuminated and editor of the New York Times’ Modern Love column, explains it, a lot of people have one voice in writing and another voice in person. The problem with the author persona, writes Jones, “is that this persona is just a part of us, not all of us. And in some ways it may actually be the opposite of who we are in person.”

Similarly, think of the people who post so much on Facebook or Instagram that you think they are ALWAYS partying, out with friends, embarked on some kind of adventure. In reality, they may lead a quieter life.

You can be a more confident, assertive, flirty person online but that may not carry over to your “real life” self. And, says Jones in his book, “…the deeper we get with someone in an online-only relationship, the more we get tricked into believing our online persona is the real us.”

I would add that over time we also develop a greater belief that the other person is the real him or her.   Even a phone persona, although closer to someone’s true self, is not exactly the same as a real life flesh and blood person with body language.

Jones’ description reminds me of the times I carried on long and wonderful virtual exchanges. I was so disappointed to find that the witty, flirty man I’d exchanged dozens of messages with was in fact a figment of both of our imaginations.

Lesson learned. Now I don’t let written communication go on very long. I want to see if there’s chemistry and what the real life person is like. Also, meeting someone fairly soon after connecting online protects me from a tendency to jump too fast. With very little to go on, I can build a whole construct about a person and our possible relationship (if I was younger, I’d fantasize about the children we would have).

I will order up a caveat about the whole persona thing. Sometimes, people can manifest a similar personality both in writing and in real life. They can be charming virtually and when you’re sitting across from them at dinner.

If you find one of these, enjoy your good fortune.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




First Dating Rant of 2018

blog pix angry bird

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks calling out men who behave badly, rejecting men who are not for me, wondering whether I’m too picky or whether I’m not picky enough.  In other words, this has been a typical couple of weeks in the life of a sometimes-dating boomer. Then I read a survey that says women and men in their 60s are having the best sex of their lives. This is not uplifting when you don’t currently have a partner. To top it off, I keep getting Valentine’s Day ads and announcements.

Can you sense a rant coming on? Join me in a healthy five layer dip snack for the Super Bowl or any time while I detail examples of these annoyances.

#1 Men Behaving Badly

Remember Mr. Hot N’ Cold otherwise known as Mr. M? I cringe to admit he briefly resurfaced and I’m to blame for encouraging him albeit in a lukewarm way (love those temperature metaphors).

To bring you up to date, I discovered that the voicemails of people whose numbers you block live on in a blocked section of your voicemails. About a month ago, I listened to Mr. M’s last voicemail. It was nice and harmless enough and I decided that maybe he wasn’t a stalker just a poor texter. That doesn’t excuse other problems including his lack of follow through and long absences. I wasn’t about to reach out to Mr. M but filed away a less negative impression of him.

Then unexpectedly, Mr. M resurfaced on Zoosk, one of the sites we had communicated on. He “viewed” me, which is the real life equivalent of a flirting glance. I agonized about whether I should “view” him back but I was feeling a lack of male company and decided to cast my fate to the dating gods.

He responded by sending me a nice message through the site and asked if we could get together. I said I would think about it and let him know I was hesitant due to his previous communications and behavior. “I can understand that,” he wrote and asked if he could have a do-over. Later that day, I message him that we could have a drink sometime. This is when the leopard’s spots reappeared.

The evidence via messages:

January 4:

Nadia: Okay, we can meet for a drink some time.

January 6:

M: okay will look at my schedule to fit into  yours

Nadia: Okay (smiley face)

Friday, January 19:

Comment: Notice the time span. No response from Mr. M after 13 days. So I messaged him (I know what you’re thinking):

Nadia: Hi, Not sure if I misinterpreted your last message, but I thought you were going to suggest a day to meet. Anyway, thought I would check in to say that.

About 4:30 p.m. on January 19th:

M: I got back in town thursday. was overseas working. What are you doing this evening

January 19 (continued):

I didn’t see his message on the site and then he phoned me. I missed his call. He left a voicemail and I called him back 30 minutes later.

Again, note the timespan. I returned his call on Jan. 19. On Feb. 2, he sent me a message through Zoosk saying he’d been traveling for work, then had to attend an out of town funeral, and after that “things were on the move with work locally.”   “I will try and call you shortly,” he wrote.

“I don’t think that explains why you didn’t return my call of 2 weeks ago…you were in town then,” I replied. “It seems like you are playing a game, perhaps just being a breadcrumber – look up this dating term. It describes the way you have behaved with me.”

Epilogue: As expected, there was no response from Mr. M. This is finally the end of the Mr. Hot N’ Cold story unless it’s not.

#Rejecting Men who are Not for Me

Last month I went out with a very nice man, Mr. ZZ, despite the fact he had the same first and middle names as my ex. That was almost enough to put me off but I decided to go for it. Based on his photos, I was worried I wouldn’t be attracted to him. I thought, “Maybe I’m too picky” and agreed to meet for a happy hour.

We had a “pleasant” time, no conversation lapses but it started to feel a bit strained toward the end of the hour. There was not a whiff of chemistry on my part. He didn’t have the kind of male energy that I like.

I sensed Mr. ZZ liked me but I could tell he was shy and at the end of our date he shook my hand goodbye. He viewed me several times over the next few days but did not reach out for a second date. I think he was waiting for me to “view” him back but I didn’t want to encourage him. I vacillated a couple of times and thought maybe I should give it another go but ultimately let it fade away.

#Wondering whether I’m too Picky

See above encounter with Mr. ZZ.

#Wondering whether I’m not Picky Enough

I could cite any of a number of conversations with men whom I clearly have little in common with other than we are both breathing.

#People in their 60s are having the best sex

Send one of the men surveyed directly to me.

#Valentine’s Day Hype

I suggest an alternate “Galentines” Day for women to celebrate with friends.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.