The Solo Travel Virgin Plans a Trip

solo travel pix

When you don’t have a romantic partner, travel for pleasure can be problematic. After the end of a marriage, who you vacation with is no longer a given. Have a taste of roasted mushroom and broccoli grain bowl while we explore this issue.

Did you and your now ex spouse have a regular vacation plan– South Carolina in July and Vermont in the fall with an occasional splurge trip to Europe? Or maybe every six months you picked a destination out of a hat and went somewhere new.

Were you that couple who preferred to schedule everything or did a no plans type vacation excite you more? Who was the planner in your travelling duo?

Before I was married, I travelled with my future husband several times a year – to beaches, to visit family, out West, to Europe. We travelled well together – no fights that I remember, though sometimes our interests diverged. I was the planner.

Sometimes travel plans were hatched but not implemented. We never took a much-discussed cross-country trip with our dog – despite buying a special truck just for that purpose.

Our vacations changed once we married and had kids. Finding a putt putt took on critical importance. Without a babysitter accompanying us, there were no late nights at music clubs. As the kids grew older, we sought out beach places with “teen centers.” After the kids were out of the house, we took “couple vacations” again before the marriage was over.

Now as a free woman, I can travel at will with only my needs and schedule to consider. It could be exciting but I’ve been fighting the inevitable solo vacation. As I write this post, I’m trying to figure out the source of my reluctance.

My concerns:

*I will be lonely and miss having a companion to share experiences with

*I won’t meet people, said the somewhat shy ambivert

*I will dine alone at every meal and will feel awkward

*If it’s night and I’m lost in a place where I don’t speak the language, I’ll be in harm’s way.

Fortunately, others who have faced the same fears have come up with ways to overcome them.

I reviewed the alternatives to solo travel. Organized group travel – even when the trips are geared to singles – don’t appeal to me at present. Finding friends to travel with is not always easy, as they often want to travel with their spouse or partners. And single friends may not always like the same kind of trips or have the same budget.

Since my divorce, I have been fortunate to have my daughter as a travel companion. We’ve had some great trips but her life is busy now and she’s not always available to travel with me. This surfaced recently as I discussed taking a much needed spring trip. It appeared she would not be able to come this time.

So I bit the bullet and reframed my sadness over not having a travelling partner as an opportunity to finally experience solo travel. Baby steps I told myself. No need to jump into a solo vacation with a 5-week backpacking trip through Thailand or a several month journey through Mexico. I decided I would be better off starting my solo travel experiences stateside where I could speak the language. And given the long, grey winter; the idea of a beach vacation seemed perfect. I decided to focus on Florida and hoped to find an area I had not been to before.

There was much agonizing over the specific beach town, the type of hotel, the type of city/community, etc. I didn’t want to blow my vacation budget on a luxury resort experience in Florida. With other more exotic trips on my bucket list, I needed to be mindful of my travel dollars. I also wasn’t sure that as a single traveler, I’d be comfortable in a fancy place. I’d have no problem enjoying a luxury hotel with a travel buddy but I was looking for a relaxed, casual vibe this time. I thought a smaller hotel/motel would be less intimidating. Similarly, I wanted a low-key town where I could wander into a café or tiki bar and feel comfortable by myself. Think: the opposite of South Beach. And I wanted to be on or close to the beach. I hoped to find a place with a big pool but sadly only the huge, expensive resorts have dreamy infinity pools.

Finally, I found a small hotel right on the beach in a quaint beach town on the Gulf Coast. Booked everything and felt empowered. I had finally done it! My solo travel life was beginning. I texted my daughter the trip details.

“Yay,” she wrote back. And then a couple of minutes later, “I checked my schedule. I can go with you!”

Until next week, happy trip planning, dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Solo Travel Resources:

 

https://solotravelerworld.com

 

http://www.adventurouskate.com

 

https://www.women-on-the-road.com/best-travel-blogs-for-women.html

 

 

Three, Two, One, Zero Dating Prospects

blox pix april 1

Remember my failed attempt at the dating rule of three when I thought I might be juggling three men at the same time? I had a similar experience that began last weekend. As the week progressed, three was reduced to two, then one, and now zero.

Join me in a bowl of Spring Pasta Salad while I share my subtraction problem.

The three candidates:

Mr. M: Nine years my junior, 1.5 inches taller than me (later you’ll see why I bring this up), a self described INTP.

Mr. J: One year my junior, a journalist, 6’4”.

Mr. R: Four years younger, an hour’s drive from me, self-employed.

I spent the most time communicating with Mr. M. After I “liked” him on Match, he wrote a confusing message that had me wondering whether he was interested. I pondered whether to reply and decided to write back with a touch of humor.

In hindsight, his first message which discussed the fact that he was not truly 6.0 but was 5’11.5” was a clue about his anal retentive personality. If I’d been paying more attention, I would have realized it was a warning.

Mr. M rounded up his height, he wrote, because he “grew tired of women automatically subtracting 2” from my height when I truncated the fraction and listed 5’11” (apparently, a lot of guys in the 5’8” to 5’9” range list 5’11” as their height on dating sites). That no longer happens at 6’0”. You are tall woman. You need a man who is at least 6’0”.

It turned out he was interested and said he thought the difference in our ages (not his height) might be a problem for me (Nonsensical since I sent him a “like.”) He wrote a couple of complementary messages and then we explored our mutual interests including music, being active, and travel.

All seemed promising until he turned my question about how long he had been divorced into an excuse to mansplain his views on today’s dating world, human behavior and physiology.

As part of his cave man soliloquy he made a comment that I didn’t care for about women who fall outside of his “normal parameters.”

insert 1

He went on and on and on about man’s primal urge to pursue, men’s average height in the US, female preference for tall men even if the women are relatively short and “woman’s basic primal need to feel safe and secure.” In between the mansplaining, a little insecurity disguised as bravado appeared:

insert 2

I was getting more and more annoyed. His messages were long and instead of getting to know me he was standing on a soapbox, actually trying to stand taller on a soapbox.

I tried to shake him out of his pontification mode with a mildly sarcastic comment and a suggestion that it was “too depressing to think about dating in terms of statistics.” He ignored my comments and barreled through. I just stopped responding to him.

Almost two days later, for closure’s sake, I messaged him that I felt like I was being lectured to rather than participating in a conversation. I also let him know that being considered “outside of normal parameters” (his way of describing our age difference) didn’t feel good to me. No response, which was fine. I was done.

Mr. J, the journalist or should I say the reticent journalist, was the second to fall. Despite a life of words, he was the opposite of Mr. M in his correspondence style. He was brief – perhaps too brief – and to the point. We only exchanged a few messages – about a novel he was reading that I had started. I pushed for him to post some additional pictures. He only had one of his head (not even shoulders were visible) and his other photo was of his dog.

Mr. J acknowledged he should add more pictures and two days later he messaged me that he had loaded three photos taken that day. Sadly his photos were disappointing, making his initial more flattering picture look like an aberration. I couldn’t see myself with him.

It’s always awkward when you ask someone to post more photos and then if he does you find that you are not attracted to him. My tenderhearted nurse daughter said, “Oh, he looks like my patients.” “This is sad,” she said, “I couldn’t do online dating.”

I felt bad but knew I had to at least acknowledge Mr. J’s effort. I wrote to him and thanked him for posting but didn’t add any further comments or questions. I’m sure it was clear to him that I wasn’t interested and we’ve had no further communication.

I matched with Mr. R on both Plenty of Fish and Tinder. At first I hesitated to say yes to him – with interests in music and a business in remodeling homes, he had some similarities to my ex. Overall he was different enough — and appealing enough — to convince me to go forward. Mr. R asked me out on POF but then on Tinder he worried about the distance between us. He asked me for my view and whether I thought he was being shallow or realistic.

I wrote back that I thought long distance relationships (if an hour qualifies) could work but it depended on one’s desire to get to know a particular person and the individual circumstances of available time and energy. I said that I’d like to meet him and asked him to let me know if the distance would be too much of a negative for him.

Mr. R thanked me for my response and said he would think about it. That was last Thursday and I haven’t heard from him since. He’s been on POF and I assume he’s moved on. It’s possible Mr. R could still reach out and zero might become one…but I’m doubtful since there are plenty of female fish closer to him.

That’s the story of three to none. App-less April is here just in time.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Annoyed Woman Leads Good Dating Behavior Movement

annoyed woman

Remember the line in Broadcast News when a news anchor yells, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?”

It’s time, ladies, to start “not taking” men’s bad online dating behavior anymore. During this activist time, let’s bond and call men out when they deserve it. And my male readers, I urge you to do the same for the women who exhibit bad manners.

Let’s do this with control and politeness – there’s enough ugly commenting happening online already. But let’s make our points. Our goal: To change the Tinderverse (and other dating worlds) one exchange at a time.

Yes, in fact this is my super power. Call me Annoyed Woman.

Annoyed Woman still likes to cook. Try this crispy tofu from the kitchn, a recipe inspired by my recent cooking class. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice or incorporate into a stir-fry or pad Thai.

The last time I was on the receiving end of bad behavior, I wrote the following response. I didn’t send it and it’s too long but, next time I will pen an appropriate length communication and send it out to the offender. “This is how we can start to turn things around,” she said optimistically.

Dear Mr. Tinder, Match, OurTime, BUMBLE, OkCupid, Hinge,

Imagine for a minute that we met at a party and started chatting. We talked for an hour and a half exploring 19 different questions and issues. And let’s suppose that I made a comment and asked the 20th question of the evening…and then you just walked away. Not a polite- “Well, I think I’ll get a drink” or “I see someone I know, it’s been nice talking to you.”  Or “Sorry I’ve got to make a call but can I get your number?”

None of that, you just walked away.  Hard to imagine doing that in “real life,” isn’t it? You’d be a real jerk if you behaved that way.  

And here is the challenge and the problem with a virtual conversation. It’s still a conversation. You assume that because you’re not standing in front of someone, there’s no accountability or responsibility.  

But when you act like the other party doesn’t really exist, that she has no feelings, you dehumanize what could be a real connection. By not saying “Nice chatting with you. Take care,” you have ruined an opportunity for grace and either continuance or closure. And you are now primed to continue acting this way in other dating encounters, whether it’s breadcrumbing or ghosting or any of the myriad modern dating actions which are really new words for the same old bad behaviors.

What do you think (other than the length)? It starts with you ladies. Let’s do this.

As you know, I like to leave you with a laugh…so let’s enjoy some crazy messages and profiles (and one clever one) from my dating files:

pix1

I guess I’m a nice guy….Not sure how/why I got this message!

*************************************************************************************

pix2

No comment.

*************************************************************************************

pix3

A for creative

*************************************************************************************

pix4

Likely a fake profile but regardless this embedded “jornalist” needs to embed in a good proofreading book.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

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.

mussels

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.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

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.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

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.

XXXOOO

Nadia

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.

XXXOOO

Nadia