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

 

 

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

Does Online Dating Conversation Track with Real Life Talk?

blog pix jan 21 2018

Have you noticed the different trajectories of conversation with online matches? With some men, you might have instant flirting and witty banter. With others, the written conversation is methodical, as far from flirty banter as one could get.

I’m wondering if online conversation always tracks to what you experience when (if) you meet in real life.

Sit yourself down for some slow roasted salmon in parchment paper while we explore this topic.

I’m in a fairly methodical exchange right now. Do you remember Mr. K of “piña colada song” fame? Well, a week later, we haven’t progressed that far in our conversation. Summary: A little discussion about the song, favorite vacation spots, Mr. K’s bike ride with coffee and breakfast afterward (yes, indeed), and our respective music playlists.

The problem? I seem to be driving this conversation (think the call and response of the blues but no reciprocal call). I’m asking most of the questions. I decided to address this issue with Mr. K and give him an easy out. I didn’t want to waste my time and energy on something that seemed to be going nowhere.

Here’s our exchange  when I asked him what’s on his music playlist but he didn’t ask me what’s on mine. To my surprise, he wanted to stay in the game.

exchange with Mr K

Unfortunately, we’ve been emailing more than .5 minute. Mr. K gets a little slack because of working crazy hours as a government contractor and he acknowledged that’s the reason for a recent delayed response. However I have limited tolerance for a man my age who works like crazy and cannot balance work and a life.

Work aside; stay tuned for whether Mr. K and I actually meet and what our real life conversation might be like. I’m not too hopeful that we’ll have instant conversational chemistry but it’s not impossible either, since he appears to have a sense of humor.

What about the guys I have met in person? Has an exciting online conversation always been duplicated in person? Absolutely not. I recall one very flirty and fun exchange with a radio broadcaster. Sadly, when we met I felt zero attraction. Without chemistry, flirty banter is impossible.

If a guy goes right to the invite, we don’t have much of a written exchange. In some ways, this seems more “real” as if you met a man at a party and didn’t have the experience of exchanging emails or texts beforehand. In a “real life meeting” scenario, chemistry, personality, and perhaps luck determine a good conversation.

The opposite side of that is the guy who never goes for the invite – despite decent written exchanges. I had a recent online encounter with Mr. S who forgot that we had exchanged messages awhile back before he stopped responding. He reached out anew and we carried on for several days before he dropped out once again. No great loss since I did some sleuthing and found that his pictures were quite old and so was he.

I’m trying to think of a situation where the online or phone conversation was lackluster but the in person chatting was good or great. There was a musician and music teacher who didn’t wow with me witty written banter but in person he had some fascinating stories. It was interesting but not a two-way exchange.

And now, totally unrelated to actual conversation, I’ll leave you with an award winning (for narcissism) Tinder opening. Because women are feeling angry and fed up with men lately, I hope you get a vicarious satisfaction from my response to Mr. Narcissism.

Tinder blog pix jan 21

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Dating and Friendships: Compare and Contrast

elephant-1046785_640

If you’re divorced or widowed and looking to expand your social life, you may find yourself simultaneously dating and seeking new friends. It struck me recently that there are some interesting similarities and differences between these two activities.

Let’s compare and contrast dating and friendships. Some friendship bread is in order. Note: We’re ignoring healthy during the holidays.

Compare and Contrast  

  • Finding Friends and Dates: Although friends can be found online (see http://bit.ly/1kEYQc0), it is much more common to meet friends in the wild – through other friends, Meetups, work, activities. It is harder to meet men in the wild. I have no problem talking to a female stranger at the gym, in the grocery store line, even a parking lot. But starting up a conversation with a male stranger I’m attracted to requires more balls than I usually have. And none of my women friends know any single men I could date (insert sad face). Rating: Different
  • Meeting/Connecting: Pheromones aside, connecting with a new friend and a new date can each bring a rush. It’s great to connect with someone who has compatible energies, interests, and philosophies. Rating: Similar
  • Sharing Innermost Thoughts: Hands down, getting to know a woman friend is easier and faster because she will usually share important and confidential life stories right away. A four-minute chat with a friend in a rest room can reveal more substance than what you would typically get from a man you have been dating for four months. Rating: Different
  • Presence of Conversational Narcissism (See http://bit.ly/1USqC10): Both women and men can be self absorbed in their conversations. It’s annoying whether you’re dating someone or trying out a new friend. I’ve met some wonderful listeners (both men and women) but I have also encountered a fair number of self-focused folks. Rating: More Similar than Different
  • Meeting Family and Friends: This may happen pretty quickly with a friend. It’s another story with a date. You can’t introduce a “match” to friends or family too early in the game. Meeting the family is a big deal when you’re dating someone. It’s less of a biggie to introduce a date to friends but could be awkward if you’re bringing over a new guy every few weeks. Rating: Different
  • Taking Care of You: If you need a referral to a medical specialist, a ride to the doctor, a home cooked meal that you don’t have to make, or reassurance about a personal problem, chances are you are going to get the best support from a good female friend. Not that men can’t help with all these things but women friends seem to instinctively know how to best take care of you. Just saying. Rating: Mostly different
  • Ghosting: Both women friends (new and long-standing) and men you are dating can ghost you (disappear suddenly without explanation). I think it is more commonly a dating than a friend issue since – sweeping generalization here — women like to talk things out. Rating: Primarily different
  • Texting: When you text a friend, you don’t have to worry about timing the way you do with a date. You’re just not thinking, “Will she wonder if I am too available and don’t have a life?”   Rating: Different
  • Sexting: Not an issue unless you’re bi. Rating: Irrelevant
  • Catfishing: Not an issue unless you’re lucky enough to have befriended a criminal. Rating: Mostly Irrelevant
  • Revoking (cancelling a first meeting — see http://bit.ly/1mhoG6G ). It would be rare for a new friend to cancel a first meeting but it happens in the online dating world. Rating: Different
  • Acceptance of Compliments: It’s pretty easy to accept a compliment from a man you’re dating. If he tells you, “You look hot,” you’re going to smile and bat your lashes. You’re not going to say, “I’m fatter than I should be and it took me 15 minutes to get into my Spanx.” In contrast, it’s hard for many women to accept a compliment from a woman friend. Watch Amy Schumer’s brilliant skit on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzlvDV3mpZw  Rating: Different.

I’d love to hear what you think about this. Write!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Running Off at the Mouth, Dating Style

man and woman with laptops for blog

It’s our second date and we’re sitting outside at a lobster shack on a sunny August morning. Mr. N continues to talk about his job, his family, his ex- girlfriends, his childhood friends, and his dog. I’m nodding and listening, wondering if he’ll take a breath so I can comment, let alone interject, something – anything — about my life.

Now Mr. N is chatting up the waiter, telling him about the way HE prepares lobster at home. I can tell the waiter wants to get to his other customers. But I chill for the moment because the day is beautiful and the lobster is good…so good that I take a too big chew and start to choke.

Mr. N is so wrapped up in the details of his cooking story that he doesn’t notice my dilemma. I start to have trouble breathing. I’m struggling, kicking the legs of Mr. N’s chair. It’s so noisy midst the din of the busy restaurant, and Mr. N is so intent on his conversation, that he doesn’t notice the kicking. I start to lose consciousness as I hear, “Only then do you add melted butter.”

Gasping for breath, I suddenly sit up – in bed – and realize I just had a nightmare. The cause: an endless stream of dates with conversational narcissists. The cure: To Be Determined.

I can’t claim ownership of this apt term. Sociologist Charles Derber described the condition in which a self-oriented person repeatedly seeks to turn attention to himself in The Pursuit of Attention: Power and Ego in Everyday Life. I just downloaded the kindle version of Derber’s book and a quick scan already produced some relevant research.

Derber’s studies of dinner conversations found that “drawing others out is a special skill associated with nurturance and mothering.” He writes, “It is also part of a feminine style which holds and attracts men. Most conversational studies suggest that listening is an essentially female skill.”

Speaking of dinner conversation, I’m reminded we haven’t had lunch. Let’s have an October treat: pumpkin risotto.

I think many women would agree that members of their own sex are better than men at both listening and drawing others out. I’d like to know if there are more recent studies that address this. (Derber’s book was first published in 1983 with a second edition in 2000.)

What has been your experience in conversations with the opposite sex? Have you been subjected to conversational narcissistic behavior in your dating life?

Of course, conversational narcissists are everywhere, not just in romantic encounters. They’re in the workplace, in your posse of girlfriends, in your latest Meetup group. They’re the people – men AND women — who don’t breathe between sentences. There’s no break between thoughts/words…just a constant stream of…. not consciousness but perhaps obliviousness – to other people’s needs. And they don’t seem to want to get to know you. Or why wouldn’t they ask some questions and give you an opportunity to talk?

As I review my dating history, it is clear that I have gone out with more than my fair share of members of this charming group. Most recently, I went out with Mr. B, a tall IT guy. During our pre-meeting phone chat, Mr. B told me about his family history, career trajectory, food allergies, and some medical issues.

During our first meeting, Mr. B revisited many of these topics. A menu review led to an in-depth discussion of his food allergies. On the second and last date, he provided excruciating detail about his former girlfriend’s mental instability. When he eventually diverged into a recap of his career and noted an interest in technical writing, I attempted to talk about my own writing. At that moment, Mr. B chose to check his phone. When his gaze returned to me, his eyes were glazed over. That was all I needed to confirm my first impression. Check please.

Perhaps the most egregious example of conversational narcissism that I encountered was with Mr. J, a budding or perhaps full-fledged alcoholic. I did not realize this was his problem at first. I thought he was just thirsty. For water. The afternoon of the day after binge drinking.

After a promising although lopsided phone conversation (75% about him), we met for a Sunday afternoon date. The venue: a cute indoor shopping complex (not a mall) in a historic Maryland town. Chemistry assessment: 100%. We strolled through the antique and tchotchke shops with Mr. J stealing kisses throughout the afternoon. When we sat down for an afternoon snack (and he gulped down tons of water – see above), we talked about our lives, but again the conversation was lopsided: 75% about him. Still, there was that chemistry/connection to counter it and the date lasted a good 5 hours.

A bizarre ‘monologue’ conversation late the next night turned ugly. It was clear Mr. J had been drinking. I spoke up about my concerns regarding the skewed conversation and he took immediate offense, went on a harangue, and ended up hanging up on me.

Over the next two days, there was a bizarre exchange of emails with Mr. J angrily demonstrating arrogance, meanness, and a whopping dose of narcissism. I noticed a correlation between his long-winded conversations and long-winded emails. All this after 1 date!

Since that extreme, unpleasant, and unusual episode almost a year ago, I have briefly dated a number of conversational narcissists. I haven’t said, “Look I can’t date you because you talk too much about yourself” but I am tempted. I’m searching for the right language to tell these guys about their problem. I wonder if they would be shocked. Would they believe my assessment? Would they change?

My brother told me one hopeful story of a woman who said to her date, “I like you but I don’t want to date someone who doesn’t seem to be interested in me.” He replied, “ I don’t want to be that guy,” and took her words to heart. They’re married now.

Maybe the answer is, if you really like a man and what he stands for, and you have good chemistry, speak up about his conversational narcissism. Unless he has a drinking problem, there’s a chance your words might be heard.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia