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.






Dating Life Snow Daze

blog house in blizzard

Baby, it’s cold outside, #Snowzilla/Jonas has begun, and you’re stocked up on food, toilet paper, and wine, beer, or spirits. In between binge watching your shows and tweeting about the accumulation, take advantage of a mostly captive online dating audience.

Not only do you have a chance to interact with all the new “recruits” who signed up in early January but also more people will be housebound and surfing the dating sites this weekend. So go forth my daters and hang out online.

For once, meeting in the wild (unless you’re shoveling next to a cute neighbor), is not even on the table. Speaking of “the table,” put this yummy roasted vegetable lasagna on yours – unless you have no power, in which case, enjoy your peanut butter sandwich.

Snow bunnies, here are my dating life suggestions for this weekend:

  • Be current. Refresh your dating profile headline with a weather-related invitation or challenge. I changed the headline on all of my dating profiles to “Snowball fight in DC this weekend?”  This question is a great opener for a guy who has run out of good introductory messages. See my previous post for some pitiful examples of hello e-mails. Since I posted my snow headline two days ago, my online traffic has risen. No winners yet but the weekend isn’t over.
  • If you haven’t updated or refreshed your profile(s) recently, take a few minutes to revise. Try to be creative – think of a guy’s profile that made you laugh or impressed you. Can you use it as inspiration and modify yours?
  • Remember that guys are visual creatures. Do you have any recent photos you can upload to your profiles? Or, perhaps you can take a cute selfie of you playing in the snow – or falling on your butt.
  • Sign up for a new app, or a general or niche-dating site you haven’t tried before. Here are my reviews and ratings of three sites/apps I recently signed up for:

*Star Trek Dating I love Star Trek and science fiction so I figured this would be a great site for me. I made a Star Trek specific profile, adding in fun stuff about replicators, Klingons, and the Borg. Unfortunately, no one else on this site seems to have any interest in Star Trek or science fiction. And no one has any fun with the concept. Few men are in my geographic area and the ones who reach out are more alien than human.

Now that my free trial is over, I can’t see the photos of those who view me. I can send a free message but can’t read messages unless I pay. Since I haven’t gotten any exciting prospects, I don’t feel like getting out my credit card. Grade: C

*Stitch Despite the name, this is not a site for sewing fiends. This site/ app is an online “community” established to help mature people age 50+ find companionship, whether it’s a new friend, a romantic interest, or an event buddy who could accompany a member to a movie.

You can join Stitch for free which allows you to browse 3 profiles a day and chat with members. A full membership costs $80 a year and allows for direct messaging, identity verification, greater control over search distance, and other features.

I have been diligently reviewing my daily free profiles and “stitched” or mutually matched with one man who lives in NYC. If two people want to connect with each other, they are “stitched” and notified of the mutual interest. I wrote to my stitch; he wrote back and said he might visit DC in the future and perhaps we could meet.

Aside from Mr. NYC, I have not been interested in any of the men whose profiles I have reviewed and most of them live far away. Grade: C+

*Tastebuds Who wouldn’t love a music-oriented dating service? I thought this was a great idea. This free dating site and app allows you to create a profile based on your favorite music artists and songs.

In the future, the founders say they will help members connect through festivals, gigs, and music meet-ups. I can’t wait.

My biggest problem with Tastebuds – like so many of the apps – is that there are not enough members in my area. It is interesting to scroll through the members from all over the world, and I might try to connect with some of them on my next European adventure. Unfortunately, for everyday dating, the pickings are slim. Grade: B for concept.

  • Take a good look at your wardrobe and pre-select some good first date outfits. Group them together in the closet so if you get an impromptu invitation, you won’t have to agonize about what to wear.
  • For future reference, make a list of all the good places to meet for a first or second date – whether it’s restaurants with good happy hours, wine bars, places that have late night happy hours, coffee shops with a good vibe, and anything different like an ice-skating rink or a new exhibit at a local museum.

Stay warm and safe!  Until next week, happy dating or not dating!




A Millennial Match in D.C.

Embed from Getty Images

As a woman of a certain age, my early pre-marriage (pre-historic) dating life was totally different from today’s modern dating computer and cell phone-based dating world. Sometimes, just for fun, I like to imagine life as a single dating millennial. Here’s a short, short story about “Amy,” an imaginary millennial woman seeking love in D.C. This should be read while eating a bowl of crunchy winter vegetable salad.

Amy was supremely organized. Her files at the PR firm where she worked were color coded by client and divided by task. Amy’s crowning achievement, however, related to her private life: the Word document she created on the promising men she met or was about to meet on online dating sites.

Amy had summaries of extensive Google searches on potential dates, as well as the results of photo hunts using Tineye and Google Image. She was most proud of her compilation of emails, messages, and notes from phone conversations with her prospects. This was her cheat sheet and how she remembered that Hank had two sisters and that William was highly allergic to shellfish and could not eat in seafood restaurants.

“How do you have the time or the patience to computerize your dating life?” asked Lisa, Amy’s best friend since college some 20 years ago. The two “Generation Xers” were having tall pumpkin spice lattes in honor of the approaching holiday season at the local Starbucks in D.C.’s Dupont Circle area. Amy and Lisa often compared notes on their struggles and successes with the strange world of online dating.

“Time – IS what it’s all about,” Amy replied, sounding a little annoyed at Lisa’s sarcasm. Lisa doesn’t get the logic of my approach, thought Amy. She seems to have forgotten what I’ve been through.

“I’d rather spend 20 minutes doing an image search to prove that the ‘perfect and promising GQ guy’ who emailed me stole a renowned author’s photo than to waste my time – and possibly my heart – on responding to and meeting an imposter.”

“Better to do the research upfront to dismiss the creeps, fakes, and married guys,” she added, running her fingers through her curly blonde hair. She thought back to her relationship with Martin. Martin never invited her to his apartment and preferred to communicate by e-mail rather than phoning. It was Lisa who suggested that Martin might be married. Lisa congratulated herself on learning from her mistake with Martin and other scammers and approaching dating methodically and carefully.

“I guess your way makes sense. Maybe I’m jealous because you seem to go out on more dates,” sighed brown-haired, brown-eyed Lisa.

“Speaking of which, any good prospects lately?” asked Lisa.

“No,” sighed Amy. “Just rural widowers and too-young guys looking for something casual.”

“Same here and I keep getting ‘hits’ from these fellas on the West Coast. Like I’m going to travel 2000 miles for a cappuccino first date!” exclaimed Lisa.

“Oh yeah the geographic misfits – I get a ton of those. I think my personality matches NY creative types more than it does Feds and Hill staffers,” said Amy pushing her empty coffee cup away.

The Starbucks was crowded on this cold Saturday morning: Lots of customers hanging out with their laptops and a couple of obviously uncomfortable first dates.

Amy stood up. “Can I get you another latte?” she asked her friend.

“No, I’m good,” replied Lisa. “I’m trying to cut down on caffeine and sugar.”

“Good plan…. but too virtuous for me. I’m going to get another one.”

Amy got in the 10-person order line.  An attractive man with longish hair stepped up right behind her. He  was wearing a well-worn leather jacket and holding a very long list. He was apparently the coffee runner for a huge gathering of friends or relatives. Annoyed at the long line, Amy decided to focus her attention on the cute guy rather than the delay in getting her coffee.

“Looks like you got stuck with the carry-out duties,” she smiled and pointed to the piece of paper he was holding.

“Yeah, my brother is getting married and we had a hell of a bachelor party last night. Now it’s payback time and I’m the designated runner to fuel this tired and hung-over group,” he winked.

“And what about you – how did you escape these morning-after effects?” she asked.

“I don’t drink to the point of being hung-over. Besides I’ve got a big deadline to meet this weekend. Gallery opening in a few days and I have to finish the last image. I’m Matt by the way.”

“Nice to meet you Matt the artist and coffee guy. I’m Amy. What’s your medium?”

“I’m a digital fantasy artist. I’ve invited a couple of editors of anime films to the opening and I’m hoping they’ll like my work and incorporate it into the advertising or even one of their films.”

“Wow – terrific. I love anime,” said Amy. “My younger sister got me hooked on it. I think Ponyo is my favorite all time anime film.”

“Ahh…you have a secret desire to be a mermaid, then?”

“Yes, in fact I am a part-time mermaid,” she grinned. “My flippers magically disappear whenever I want them to. “In my real life, however, I’m an account executive at Porter Novelli, the PR firm. I also blog about cooking and have a cartoon strip called Tip Top Chef.”

“So you are a fellow or I guess a fella artist. Well if you can keep your flippers at bay – no pun intended – and you are free this Friday evening, come by the opening at the Studio. It’s First Friday when the local galleries stay open late and host wine and cheese receptions.”

“That sounds like fun,” said Amy who was starting to feel a bit warm even though she hadn’t yet ordered her second cup of coffee. And she was pretty sure Matt was feeling some chemistry as well.

“Nice to meet you,” she added as she stepped up to the counter to place her order. After she had paid, Amy watched Matt reel off his long list with apologetic looks to the rest of the people in line. She couldn’t stop gazing at him.

As she carried her now gingerbread latte to the table, she grinned as she walked by him. Matt was just giving the last order when he glanced up and flashed Amy the biggest, warmest smile she’d ever seen on a guy who had attended a bachelor party the previous night.

“Who were you talking to?” asked Lisa. “I could see the ‘I’m interested and available’ body language you were projecting from over here!”

“A very nice, cute guy and artist who I think just invited me on a sort of pre-date at his gallery opening this Friday.

“Well I’m sure you’re going to Google him to death and will have compiled a complete dossier by the time you see him Friday– that is — if he passes your security clearance process,” exclaimed Lisa.

“Oh no! I don’t have his last name,” wailed Amy. “But then I could check out the gallery web site and find the list of artists at the event. How many Matts could there be?

Amy paused a moment. “You know what? “ she asked. “I just met this guy the old fashioned organic way. I’m not going to check him out in advance. This time, I’m going to rely on my gut and my pheromones. I’m definitely attracted to him and who knows — he could be my last match.”

Lisa smiled. “Atta girl. I knew you had it in you. You are an old fashioned romantic at heart after all.”

Hope you enjoyed this fiction break. Until next week, happy dating or not dating!



View from the Trenches: A Millennial Man on Dating

Embed from Getty Images

Whenever I tell someone I write a blog about dating and relationships, the conversation often turns to this topic. I recently had an opportunity to chat with “Henry,” about his dating experiences as a 31-year-old living in Washington, D.C. What I always find interesting is that men and women of all ages are experiencing many of the same ups and downs as they live the dating life.

Let’s kick back and hear from Henry while enjoying white bean dip with raw veggies. Since it’s a holiday weekend, we’ll splurge with a skinny version of a margarita called La Paloma

I understand you cancelled all of your online dating subscriptions. How long did you try online dating and why did you cancel? What was your biggest frustration with this method?

I tried it off and on for about 4 years with some success. And I cancelled it, because I don’t want to think about dating as often as I can gain access to a website or app. Which could literally be all the time these days. Online dating didn’t frustrate me specifically. Dating frustrates me. And I realized I often don’t get fulfillment from this activity, so why should I focus my limited time and attention on it?

Really, cancelling my dating accounts was all about trying to achieve balance as a person and trying to be happy with just doing my own thing as opposed to trolling for dates 24/7. I still occasionally ask a woman out and the win-loss ratios aren’t any different if you subtract online dating from the equation. The positive in this is that I end up enjoying my own company more and delving into things that interest me. If I eventually connect with someone special, that’s great. If not, I’ve been living a pretty good life regardless.

Did you have a favorite dating site?

I tried at least 5 or 6 sites in some form or another. The ones that worked the best had the most people on them. OkCupid was a favorite.

Would you like to share some examples of rude dating behavior that you have experienced?

Well, being stood up is no fun. I wouldn’t say that it’s common, but it has happened to me several times at this point. Does it hurt my feelings? Sure. But the real insult is less about being rejected and more about someone wasting your time as you stand some place waiting for a person who will never arrive!

Do you see any changes in the dating experience over the last 10 years (advent of technology, changes in social mores, etc.)? 

I wasn’t really dating 10 years ago, because I was moving around too much for work. That said, my idea of what dating was basically came from 90s sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld. But dating isn’t that anymore, even if there are similarities. The internet, social media, and smartphones have changed (and are changing) our society in general, including dating. For the better? I can’t say for sure. Better than what?

Have you ever broken up with someone by text or email or have you been on the receiving end of this behavior?

I have broken up with someone by email once, but it was an international situation and before Skype existed. I’d apologize now, but we’ve talked numerous times since then and it’s fine. Also, she’s married and doesn’t give a shit about that. Then four years ago on a holiday, I got broken up with by text. Not fun.

What are some “in the wild” ways you have met women? Any ways you plan on trying? 

Those files are classified, top secret, for her eyes only… So, like for me, if I go out with an agenda and I don’t achieve my goal, I feel disappointed. Solution – I just enjoy what I’m doing and go through my regular routine. Home. Work. Gym. Perhaps a party or a bar. I might meet someone at any of those places, but I don’t focus on it.

Is it hard to approach women? How can a woman make it easier for a man to approach her? 

Yes, because women don’t often look like they want to be approached. It’s not just my imagination either. Digging deeper into this, a few female co-workers have told me about how they are approached daily by strangers and it stresses them out. One woman told me she gets asked out every time she leaves the house. So, I don’t know. Generally, when women are into me it is blatantly obvious.

What is your favorite first date venue/activity?

Hmmm… depends on the woman. Gotta adapt. If it leads to making out though, then that’s great for me.

I have gotten a number of emails from younger men on dating sites and I am always suspicious of their intent but a recent exchange with a younger man prompted me to consider that not all of them are out for money or sex. Have you ever dated an older or younger woman? Do you think a significant age difference in a relationship is a good or bad idea?

I don’t know. We’re talking in generalities here. Unfortunately, maturity levels don’t automatically increase with age for some people. I’ve dated older women and younger women. I would say I’m capable of forgetting about the age difference one-on-one. But on several occasions, the women seem like they can get hung up on it like they suddenly just discovered I was five years younger or five years older than them. I’m not sure the reason why. So, being on the same maturity level or the same wavelength in life is probably a better indicator than age by itself. That said, I can see why 20 year olds and 90 year olds don’t often get together, because what would they have in common?

Do you think women have it easier than men in the dating world?

No. Not at all. They have it worse. Because initially they don’t know if a guy is the greatest man in the world or an axe-murderer. Also, they have to deal with online harassment from people they don’t respond to or crazy people or unrequested photographs of dicks. Or all of the above.

Have you figured out exactly what you are looking for in a woman?

I’m of the opinion that being overly specific is counterproductive. Then, you can’t see the forest through the trees. But to show you that I have given it some thought, I believe positive character traits and good communication are necessary foundational things. I can just write out a laundry list of physical and sexual stuff, but that’s more of a wish list than a set of requirements.

In your experience, are men from Venus and women from Mars?

They are very different. But is it nature or is it nurture? I don’t know. Obviously, I like women a lot. I will say that I’ve had several female friends who dated women for a while and they seem to come out of that experience with strong feelings about the pros and cons regarding men. Meaning, they come out of it appreciating guys more.

What do you wish women would tell you?

What they want. But in my experience, a lot of them don’t know what they want or they feel conflicted about things that I can only guess at. I prefer direct communication across the board, if I’m being honest here.

What makes a good girlfriend? 

It’s like that old quote about pornography. I know it when I see it.

How would you define a good relationship? What are some good tests of a relationship?

Well, I can definitely say what makes a bad relationship. So, that’s my measuring stick for relationship tests. How does a person handle anger, disappointment, or differing opinions? Are they patient and committed? Do they follow through on things they say? How do they treat people that there’s no advantage in treating well? How do they react when life is less than perfect? I guess I see a good relationship as good communication, so any couple that doesn’t have that – I don’t know what they have and that’s their problem.

Do you like to chase a woman or have her chase you?

I don’t think this question describes the dating world anymore. If a woman is interested in me, she texts me or she texts me back. If she isn’t interested, she falls off the face of the Earth and is unresponsive. I wouldn’t call that a chase either way. I don’t know what the hell to call it to be honest. They have to invent a verb for that.

First date sex: good or bad idea?

I mean, we’re all adults here. If it feels right, it feels right. I prefer to wait a while, but that’s under the narrowest Bill Clinton definitions of sex. Then again, first date oral sex? Fingering? Imaginative activity of choice? Carpe diem. Definitely making out. Nothing is obligatory though.

Love at first sight – possible? 

Maybe. I don’t know. Could just be something made up in movies though! I’m not against it by any means.

Is DC a good or bad dating city? Can you contrast with any other places you have lived?

From my observations and from what I’ve overheard, dating is just universally frustrating everywhere. I don’t know anyone off the top of my head who just looooves to date.

I’ve lived in smaller towns and cities where there are too few people for a good dating pool, so things are too small and become complicated pretty fast. I thought being in DC would change my view of dating, because there are more people. But everyone I talk to here is dissatisfied. And a few people I know who’ve dated in New York and Chicago say it’s awful. And that’s even more people to choose from (i.e. sift through).

Do you see a range of dating experiences among your friends?

Yeah. Some people can’t be alone. Some don’t seem to date at all. Some married early. Some are just now getting married. Some are divorced. There’s a variety, I would say.

What do you want a potential partner to know about you?

Personal history, true feelings. Not that I would tell them every mundane thing, but being secretive doesn’t seem healthy either. Then if there’s something they really want to know, I guess I might be open to special requests. That’s a joke, I’m open to their requests.

Do you want to get married? What scares you the most about marriage?

Maybe? Parts of it seem like they would be fun. What scares me is that I don’t want to get divorced and it’s hard to imagine marriage being a good idea realistically

Thanks to Henry for sharing his perspective. Until next week, happy dating or not dating.