Baggage

baggage blog post

Have you noticed how many dating profiles mention baggage? Let’s explore this topic while enjoying quinoa salad with swiss chard and goat cheese.

When I first read the term baggage in a profile – usually in the context of “please don’t have any,” I thought of it as a mix of experience and memories. I wondered how a person could get through life without either one of these. Then I realized that these guys are referring to emotional baggage, defined by Merriam Webster as “intangible things (as feeling, circumstances, or beliefs) that get in the way.”

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of emotional baggage is “painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.” This personality characteristic is also, according to Urban Dictionary, an “excuse commonly used by Peter Pans and other immature men to avoid commitment yet maintain a sexual relationship….as in I don’t think I can handle a real relationship right now. I need some time to get over my emotional baggage.”

I’d like to propose a broader definition of emotional baggage so that it encompasses any life experience that hinders you from moving forward to enjoy life and love.

In my post-divorce dating years, I have encountered widowers who can’t move on enough to be in a relationship, bitter divorced men stuck in an anger cycle, as well as men who have had serious or difficult medical issues and a subsequent loss of self esteem that they can’t overcome.

And there’s no gender rule here — women can experience the same inability to move forward. Just like men, women may get stuck in a post-divorce cycle of anger and low self-esteem. They’re unhappy and unable to move forward from the “baggage” of their failed relationship.

Then there are other people – men and women – who have had serious issues such as the death of a child, yet somehow, are able to carry on with an open albeit grieving heart.

I accept that in my age range, men may not have “baggage” per se but they, like me will likely have some blips on their heart’s EKG. Fortunately the heart can survive a lot and with modern technological advances, recovery is possible.

I like to think my baggage is carry-on – easily stowed under my seat. With occasional turbulence, it might roll out…but I just stuff it back.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Diary: A Week without Dating Apps

blog pix week without dating apps

Monday morning:

I deleted all of my dating apps and hid my profile on the dating sites I belong to. Feeling both free in a good way and strangely untethered in a bad way. To motivate myself, I made a schedule of activities for the week. The hope is that I will get out of the house more and possibly meet men in real life. Oh foolish heart.

While working on this blog’s social media pages, I experience what can only be described as online dating withdrawal.

I have various random thoughts and questions such as, “If there were no apps, would I ever have any dates?”

Wednesday morning:

I woke up from a strange dream in which I meet an attractive older man in a friend’s group house. The setting seems to be a mishmash of my early college and current days. I’m unsure about the meaning of the dream but I think it must have something to do with worry about a lack of romantic possibilities.

Yesterday I tweeted an article from Bustle about a young woman who has been app-less for a year. She recounted the things she missed about online and app dating. After two days, I could relate to all of them except the one where she longed for the ability to immediately ask out and meet a guy she matched with on a dating app.

Although some of my online encounters rapidly progressed from messaging to an in- person meeting, the man initiated them. Sometimes I gently pushed a guy toward a meeting, but I haven’t opened with, Hey you want to meet for a drink? Perhaps I should. Just to see what happens. My guess is that given her younger age, the writer of this piece has done better than I would if I went offline for a year.  She likely has a bigger “single” social circle and more professional connections compared to a single, retired woman of a certain age. But I’m just speculating.

With no apps or sites to check, no emails to write or respond to, I have more time for other things. I’m reading more and per usual I tend to read fiction about relationships and romance (not romance novels per se – though I enjoy them too). I discovered Laurie Colwin, a delightful writer who sadly died much too young. I devoured Happy All the Time and now I’m thoroughly enjoying Goodbye without Leaving. Of course, reading doesn’t get me out in the world…so perhaps I’ll finish the book at a café or coffee shop.

I realize that a week without online dating is not enough to fully plan activities where I might meet someone organically. I signed up for an archery Meet-up that’s getting together Saturday but it looks like the members are in their 20s and 30s. It won’t lead to any romantic possibilities but that’s okay.

Wednesday evening:

I felt better this afternoon…but evening brings on feelings of loneliness. Where are the phone pings that someone winked at me or sent me a message?

Thursday morning:

Another weird dream night – nothing about men per se and now I can’t even remember the story…but obviously an app-less week is affecting my subconscious.

I receive an email from Hinge that someone likes me and his picture is not bad. I wonder if I should go back on Hinge briefly to check the guy’s profile and possibly respond to him. I ponder whether that would be cheating on my app-less week. Then I notice Hinge sent the email at 2 am. A late or middle of the night “like” is often a signal that the man lives in another time zone, possibly in another country. So I decide to “hold” for the moment and not break this online dating fast.

I receive another like from someone on OurTime. Notifications from this dating site don’t include photos of those who like or message you so I’m not tempted to go online. Holding fast to my fast.

I hope to make it to an art museum tour this afternoon. I’ve heard this can be a good way to meet people. At the least, I will increase my knowledge about art and get out of the house.

Friday morning:

I missed the tour so I ended up wandering around Georgetown and the waterfront. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was good for my soul. I didn’t meet anyone but enjoyed the afternoon.

I confess that late last night, I semi-cheated (briefly) on my dating fast with a quick Tinder check related to a previous match with an attractive man. Although he lives 160 miles away, this guy visits his adult son who lives not too far from me.

The man said he would reach out next time he comes into town. Since it’s a holiday week, I thought I should reinstall Tinder just to see whether he had contacted me through the app. You guessed it (possibly): There was no message because he had unmatched me. After a couple of accidental super-likes, I delete the app again.

Saturday morning:

After seeing that the archery Meet-up is now filled with 7-to-10 year olds on spring break, I decide to cancel and go another time.

I’m looking forward to the end of this fast. I plan to go back online tomorrow rather than Monday as originally planned…still it’s a full 6 days without online dating.

You may be wondering about my rationale for breaking the fast one day short of a week. Sundays are typically the best days for connecting on the dating sites and holiday weekends also have more activity. Holidays bring out the urge to connect. A lot of people feel nostalgia for past celebrations and yearn to once again be part of a family or relationship “unit.”

Perhaps the lesson from my app-less week is that it’s okay to get back on the sites and apps since despite their problems, they give me hope. The key is to supplement the online world with real life activities and to check the apps less frequently.

Two years ago (I cringe as I think of how long I’ve been doing this), I tried to limit my online dating check-in frequency without much long-term success. I’m convinced that this April’s dating app “fast” is a better transition to healthier online dating behavior – similar to the way a food fast retrains your appetite so you are more satisfied with fewer calories.

At the same time, I plan on binging tomorrow.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Update on Dating Sites and an Old School Breakup

blog post penguin love 2

There are dating sites and apps that I like (tolerate may be a better word), ones I used to like but now can’t stand, and sites that never worked for me (so I don’t like them).

Let’s review while munching on pasta primavera with grilled veggies.

OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) are now in my “can’t stand” category. The reason? They are both overrun with catfishers and scammers. These sites worked for me when I first used them. I even had one of my 3-month relationships with a guy I met on OkCupid. But over time I noticed an increase in members with false or stolen profiles. It got to the point where almost no one I matched with on OkCupid was genuine. I’m not sure why this site above all others contains so many scammers (at least in my dating pool). Perhaps the idea of a free dating venue appeals to guys with less than honorable intentions.

Free may also be the problem with Coffee Meets Bagel. I miss my daily bagel from CMB but more often than not that bagel was bad. It must be a common problem since a number of people find their way to this blog by searching for Coffee Meets Bagel scammers.

I deleted both OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel and now spend less time deleting dishonorable daters and more time on general whining about dating.

An abundance of catfishers is not the only reason to dislike a dating site or app. EHarmony was not my cup of tea, coffee, or glass of wine. After filling out the endless Meyers-Briggs-like questionnaire, I ended up with a pool of boring and geographically incompatible matches. And the inability to search for matches on my own felt very paternalistic (though Coffee Meets Bagel also prohibits searching of members’ profiles).

JDate is another site that never worked for me – and I tried it twice. I wasn’t attracted to anyone in my dating pool. It might be worth trying JDate again since new people are always joining dating sites.  Unless a site is poorly constructed, I will usually consider a second or third membership in a site.

Our Time is now on my “good” list after an unsuccessful first round 18 months ago. I classify a site as good if there are a reasonable number of appealing matches who reach out to me or respond to my outreach and I actually go on dates with some of them.

I like OurTime despite a recent “old school” breakup with a match — if you can call it a breakup after two dates. I’m still confused by it and that’s not atypical in the online dating world. You may never know the real reason why someone doesn’t want to see you again. In this case, at least the man gets points for phoning me to tell me he didn’t think we were a “fit.” The only reason he actually cited was the 1-hour geographic distance between our homes. I was surprised by the break-up – first of all because he had the decency to phone me but also since he appeared to be fairly smitten. Perhaps I’ll probe this interaction more in a future post…and after I have completed a wonderful online class on how to be a human lie detector.

My other go-to dating staples at the moment are Zoosk, Plenty of Fish, Match, and Bumble.

I’m less enthusiastic about Tinder, JSwipe, Hinge, and Fitness Singles but hold out hope that one of these venues might be worthwhile. The Clover app, on the other hand, is almost worthless as a source of reasonable matches and I’ll probably delete it soon.

You may think I’m on too many dating sites/apps. However, I look at online dating as a numbers game and the more times I present myself to eligible men, the more likely I’ll find Mr. Right. In the meantime, I’m also putting myself in “real life” situations and activities that not only interest me but also have the potential to expand my romantic horizons.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

The Great American Dating Profile

Woman writing her dating profile

Many writers dream that one day they’ll write the great American novel. I dream about writing the great American dating profile. And why not? I have a few writing chops. The question is: Can I translate those skills into the greatest dating profile of all time? Sit with me and let’s discuss over some crostini with pea pesto ricotta spread. Pair with a crisp pinot grigio.

A couple of weeks ago I realized my dating profile needed retooling. I’ve written 4 or 5 different versions of my profile since I started online dating. In some cases, I approached the task as a profile tear down, building it back up in a new way; at other times I did a modest renovation. I like to think that the latest one is always the best so far.

Side note: More minute changes such as updating “last book read” should be done biweekly or monthly. I know from personal experience that when I make a tiny change in my profile (sometimes just changing a comma to a semicolon), the dating bots highlight my effort to their male subscribers and I get an uptick in views and messages. Try it and see if you notice an increase in interest.

I decided it was time for a tear down followed by all new construction. As with most challenges, I began with some quiet thinking time. I asked myself, what are the most important qualities that I seek in a man? I then thought about my attributes. Both inquiries turned into lists. I then reviewed a dating profile of a 60-something woman who had great success with online dating.

It was time for research and my friend Google. You can easily pull up between 5 and 7 million hits by searching for how to write a great dating profile or how to write a great dating profile for a woman.

One of my best resources was actually a scientific study published in 2015 in the British Medical Journal. This study was a meta-analysis, a study of studies, on online dating. My favorite part of the paper, other than the findings, was the Acknowledgements section: The authors would like to thank the potential dates who turned down one of us repeatedly, encouraging us to think about the effectiveness of online dating.

Ha! You’ve got to love scientists with a sense of humor.

This study, combined with several articles, and some reflection on articles and books I’d read in the last couple of years led me to identify some principles of the written portion of good profiles that I wanted to capture in my new version.

Second side note: I’m not focusing on dating profile photos in this blog post, but they are critically important to your dating success. Make sure your main pictures are current and consider having a professional photographer. Read about my photo shoot.

Good Dating Profiles (for women):

*Use a playful, positive screen name. Try to make it similar to the screen names of men you find attractive.

*Pick a screen name that starts with a letter early in the alphabet so it pops up earlier in a dating site search.

*Choose simple language for your headline.

*Your profile should be 70% about you and 30% about your ideal match.

*Emphasize character traits and hobbies that are people and value-centric. Focus on likeability, not academic achievement. (As I had to tell one guy, this is a dating site, not LinkedIn.)

*Use words such as romance, heart, and love (even if love is in reference to an activity you enjoy).

*Show emotional availability.

*Show your passion and what excites you.

*Make your first few sentences stand out.

*I like to have a theme for each profile (e.g., music, cooking, outdoor activities, etc.).

*Men prefer women whose physical fitness activities are yoga, aerobics, and the gym. (Scratch that reference to power lifting – but continue to power lift since men will love the result.)

After internalizing all of these principles, I crafted a new profile and screen name and rotated my primary photo from my last professional shoot.

I’m on several sites so I’ve been working my way through each of them, deleting the old profile and inserting the new one. The sites always take a little time to approve any revisions so each time I update my profile, I patiently wait for my “rebirth.”

The result of my effort? I have received more views and more emails. Unfortunately, it’s not a magic fix.

The key is to have that new and great profile available online when the “one” joins the site or happens to be searching and finds me.

I’m ready to be found.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Resources:

The Daily Beast

British Medical Journal

DoctorNerdLove

Match

Zoosk

Business Insider

Huffington Post

Practical Happiness

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Resolutions

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No, I’m not confusing my holidays. My resolutions ARE for Valentine’s Day, in hopes that I will have a Valentine or at least a promising Valentine’s Day date in another month. This doesn’t give me much time for implementing my resolutions and certainly no time to cook – so let’s lunch on this quick pasta dish.

There are people who say that vocalizing your intentions and believing they will come true ensures they will become reality. So, I’m going out on a limb – possibly a whim – to say the following actions will bring me what I’m visualizing (6’4” of the sweetest man possible).

I hope you will come up with your own Valentine’s Day Resolutions. Feel free to take mine and modify them to suit you as needed.

Some of these resolutions are based on altering my everyday schedule. As someone who doesn’t work in an office anymore, I often take advantage of my flexibility and do things during off-peak hours. The problem with this strategy is that I’m less likely to encounter single men who might still be on a traditional work schedule. I do my grocery shopping on a weekday morning, go to the gym mid-morning or mid-afternoon, swim at lunchtime, write in my pleasant home office, etc.

Here’s how I plan to change things up a bit:

*Pick up a couple of grocery items in the evening. I will still do my “big shopping” during the week but this special and quick trip allows me to strike a compromise between my relaxed schedule and the time when working/teleworking single men might be shopping.

*Go to different grocery stores for these quick trips, particularly those that have “social” reputations.

*Go to wine stores in the evening, particularly when they are offering a free tasting.

*Go to the gym one evening a week. Since I belong to a gym with many branches throughout the area, I can also try different locations.

*Have dinner at a bar one night a week. See my post on meeting men in bars.

*Attend three events sponsored by a single meet-up in an effort to have repeated exposure.

*Once a week, write in a coffee shop.

*Once a week, run a random errand in the evening. Possibilities: A hardware store, a bookstore, a car wash.

*Take a new class. I’m considering a free introduction to improv class.

*Make a schedule of these resolutions. If I have a set schedule, I’m more likely to follow through on these actions.

Whatever your circumstance – retired, teleworking, flexible schedule – ask yourself how you can change your activities and your schedule to expand your circle of daily encounters. The goal: Meet new people in new venues. And try to lose the resting bitch face while you’re out and about.

Tell me about your Valentine’s Day resolutions!

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Follow me on social media too:

Twitter

60s dating on Facebook

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

My Holiday Letter

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Ahh…. the holidays: an often-dreaded time for singletons. One of the offending hallmarks (no pun intended) of the season is, of course, the holiday letter. When a single person receives a family holiday letter, it can serve as a reminder of her or his not-intact family. A recent Washington Post Solo-ish article titled I love your family but I dread your joyous holiday letters captures the emotions a divorced or widowed person might feel upon reading this well meaning but accidentally hurtful correspondence.

Turnabout is fair play. So, enjoy my singles version of a holiday letter while slurping Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup (recipe below).

Play some appropriately themed music while you’re cooking.

Note that, unlike other “family” letters, you don’t have to read about the exploits of multiple related people.

December 2016

Dear Friends,

I hope this holiday season finds you well and that you and your loved ones are sheltering in place – and by the fire – after the storm of the election. We need all the love we can get during this time of national emotional upheaval.

It’s been a wild ride for me this past year as well. Oh, no, I don’t mean that literally I’ve found a wild ride…though I have been searching for one.

Let me share with you some of the highlights from 2016:

  1. Four hundred first dates! Yes, in fact, I may have reached that milestone after four years of divorce. But who’s counting?
  2. A banner year for bad breath! Why is it that so many men fail in the oral hygiene department? This year I learned to stock 10 varieties of mints and gum in my purse and car – just in case I encounter a case of Mr. Frisky with Halitosis.
  3. Athletic accomplishments: No swim team for me…but I did overcome my fear of deep water. Now I can hang out at the community pool after my laps and try to meet men.
  4. Dance competitions: Even better than a middle school dance competition, I completed a basic introductory hip-hop class without requiring orthopedic surgery or acupuncture. Then there was the tango class I took with a short, heavily accented instructor. I couldn’t hear him over the loud music so I invented my personal version of the tango, which looks more like a bull stamping its foot before charging.
  5. Academic achievements: There are no grades or tests for adult education classes at community college so I can’t humble brag about being on the Dean’s List. On the positive side, my Spanish and writing classes revealed the added benefit of making new friends and possibly meeting men. A win-win amigos.
  6. Travel highlights: Spain and Ireland. For the single woman, Spain wins. See: Tinder in España.
  7. Something new, something borrowed, something blue. No wedding for me, fellow partygoers. As a single woman, new refers to new dating photos and a revised profile. I borrowed my daughter’s jeans to wear on a date and the blue for this non-bride refers to Miles’ classic Kind of Blue album, great music for contemplating your single life.
  8. Local field trips: I expanded my repertoire of solo outings, enjoying “just me” excursions to happy hours, museums, and concerts.
  9. Breaking down barriers: I ignored any perceived age and race barriers and went out with men of various ethnicities from age 50 to 69.
  10. Benefits of non-Mindfulness: I learned to relax into the cycle of the dating life and look to the future: Dry spells are followed by false bounty but eventually you date a guy – though he might have bad breath (see #2).
  11. Plans for 2017: I bought 3 red dresses in 2016 so I’m starting my Valentine’s Day dating search now!

 

2016 Bonus: Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds cod

Olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white parts only).

1 large red pepper, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped (optional)

2 cans light coconut milk

1-cup vegetable broth

1-pound package frozen yellow corn

½ cup minced cilantro

¼ cup fresh lime juice

Cilantro and fresh sliced avocado for garnish

Heat olive oil in large pasta or soup pot. Add leeks and and sauté until translucent. Add chopped red pepper and continue sautéing a couple more minutes. Add tomato if using. Cut cod into 2” pieces (not too small because they will break up anyway) and add to mixture. Sautee a couple of minutes and then add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Cook 5 minutes and then add corn. Cook on medium (low bubbling of mixture) for another 8 minutes.  Check cod to make sure it’s cooked through (opaque not translucent). Add salt to taste. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Heat for another minute.

Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish soup with sliced avocado and minced cilantro.

Note: If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute Vidalia onions (1/2 to 1 large chopped onion depending on your preference).  Quantity of leeks or onions, peppers, and tomatoes  can be varied depending on your preference and any food allergies.

Frozen defrosted cod works well in this recipe. You can even use partially defrosted cod. Just make sure you thoroughly cook it in the broth/coconut milk mixture.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating…and happy cooking!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Strength in Solitude

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A few years ago – soon after my divorce, my daughter and I took a beach vacation. As we walked along the soft white sugar sand of the Gulf Coast, I saw a woman of about 80 strolling purposefully with her dog.

“I wonder if that will be me some day – walking alone, not with a partner,” I wondered aloud, thinking how sad that would be.

My daughter, responding to my words and mood, said, “What’s wrong with that? She looks happy. It would be o.k.”

At that moment, I couldn’t believe such a scenario would be okay. But I could now.

Let’s chew on that while devouring some of Jamie Oliver’s potato cakes with smoked salmon.

The beach memory was triggered by a temporary change in my current living situation. A couple of years ago, my son, like so many adult children, returned to his parental home (or half of it given the divorce) to pursue a second college degree as an entre to a new career.

There’s more to his story just as there’s more to the story of what happens when adult children live with their parents, but that’s not on today’s blog menu. I will say that, for the most part, the arrangement works well.

But the situation prevents me from truly living alone, something I wanted and needed to do after my divorce. Other than a random week or two here or there, one or both of my children have lived with me except when they were in college. And during that period, I was married so the house was not empty. Going back in years, I went from living with my parents, to living with college roommates, to living with the man who would become my husband.

So, I skipped that whole part of life called “being single and living alone.” And I was both eager to experience it and a little nervous as well. How would I navigate living alone and would I be lonely? Fast forward to a couple of days ago when my son left for a week’s vacation to visit a friend.

Finally, I could invite some friends over for dinner while having the house truly to myself. And I could see what it would be like to live alone while in a pretty good place – healed from my divorce, stronger, and more centered than ever before.

This temporary break in shared housing got me thinking about solitude, being alone, loneliness, and all variations of that theme.

I’ve always been someone who enjoyed a certain amount of time spent alone – whether reading, writing, taking a walk, or going for a drive with music blasting. But it’s not something I want to do 24/7. At a certain point in my day, I start to feel lonely and need to be around people.

For more on the balance between solitude and company, see the wonderful Brain Pickings blog post on experiencing at least one prolonged period of solitude in life.

After I divorced, I needed to learn not only how to be without a partner but also how to be independent – to rely on myself for everything from adding oil to the car to tightening a loose toilet seat (thanks You Tube). A solo road trip no longer seemed liked a scary impossibility. Solitude helped build strength. Strength begot resilience.

All of this doesn’t mean I want to be alone.

There is nothing more important to me than finding one of the ones, a partner to love and share life with.  The crucial thing is to live well and to be happy while searching for that special person and to never stop searching – even if you’re the oldest person on Match, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Resources:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/22/desert-solitaire-edward-abbey/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/what-is-solitude

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199801/the-call-solitude

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/27/suggestions-for-savoring-solitude/