Repeated Exposure

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I spent most of last week on jury duty – my first experience performing this civic duty. It was a difficult case unrelated to the topic of this blog…but it got me thinking about the issue of repeated exposure as it relates to forming relationships.

Baby, it’s cold outside, so enjoy some creamy vegetable soup while we chat about this issue.

As a jury, we were a group of 14 (two alternates) disparate people thrown together by random computer selection. Over the course of four days, many of us started to talk to each other during lunch and the endless breaks (I object, your honor; may I approach the bench, your honor; the jury is excused while we discuss a point of law, etc., etc.).

On the last day, after a sleepless night precipitated by a stalemate in the deliberations, I connected with one of the male jurors, an attractive man about my age. Let’s call him Mr. C for cute. I had talked to other jurors but only smiled/acknowledged this particular man. We had a good and easy conversation that was interrupted when we got called into the courtroom. Then, surprisingly, when the jury returned to deliberations, all were in agreement.

After the foreman read the not guilty verdict, the jury was excused. We rushed out – our lives had been on hold for four days and all were anxious to resume them.

Mr. C and I entered the crowded elevator. No one spoke. We were all drained. Mr. C was the first to exit – several floors before mine. I said goodbye just as the door shut.

We hadn’t exchanged names. In order to preserve anonymity, the judge called us by our assigned numbers. I don’t even know if Mr. C was married.

But the experience triggered a flashback to college and early career days. It was so much easier to forge relationships when you could do so slowly and over a common bond.

In school, it was natural to bitch about the crazy English professor or the schedule of finals, or the cafeteria food.

On the job, you could bitch about your difficult boss, the poor work environment, or the cafeteria food.

Ladies and gentleman of the non-jury, I submit that having a common topic to bitch about can be the glue that binds. (Yes, I’m in the mood for clichés.)

When you have to encounter other people on a daily basis, you work a little harder to make conversation – even if they are not obvious “friend” or “romantic interest” material. There’s often a readily available topic to discuss and if the chat goes flat one day, well, you’ll have tomorrow to start over. Slowly, you may find that you really like and bond with some of these people.

It doesn’t happen that way in the online dating world. If you keep seeing the same prospects over and over, you tend to get bored. There’s no in-person forced interaction to move you away from boredom. I guess you could say good morning to the 5,000 people that are online when you log in, but it might be a little time consuming.

The rule of repeated exposure also applies to forming friendships. How much easier was it to make new girlfriends and keep those you had when you saw them every day at school? Can you imagine having the time now to talk ON THE PHONE to your friends every day?

Yes, there are adult workarounds. If you have friends in the office, you may get to chat in person every day. Or, if you live in a friendly neighborhood or condo/apartment and are on a schedule that is similar to your neighbors, you may form real connections with the people living on your block or floor.

If you belong to a temple or church, you can go to regular services or gatherings. If you are a member of a meet-up that you attend regularly, you’ll have the opportunity for repeated exposure. Ditto for a regular class at the gym or participation in a sports team or a music group.

The operative word is “regular,” a stand-in for “repeated.” 

Let’s take stock. Other than jury duty, how have I been doing with this practice of repeated exposure when it comes to creating opportunities for romance or friendships?

Work: Retired so N/A. Still connect with former colleagues.

Religion: No formal affiliation/attendance.

Gym: Attendance but no classes

Meet-ups: Attendance is random, not regular

Sports team: Nada. Swimming but no team.

Neighborhood: Maintaining connections but not forging new ones

I see some room for improvement. How about you? Are you pushing the replay button enough in order to create new bonds? Let me know.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Meeting Men in Real Life: What Happens at a Match “Event?”

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I went to a Match.com happy hour a few nights ago. This was not an easy task for a somewhat shy 60-something singleton. I went unaccompanied and anticipated not knowing a soul. I also worried about running into a nosy single, male neighbor who is on the site or perhaps one of the men I used to date. But I put on my big girl panties, actually I put on my Spanx leggings (seriously, these are fabulous), channeled Wonder Woman and all the movie characters who said, “Let’s do this,” and I did.

I’ll tell you the story over a delicious meal of oven-roasted sea bass with ginger and lime sauce.

The event was held in a “rock and roll” themed restaurant/bar music club. Match said attendees would be able to see who had checked in to the happy hour in real time on the event’s mobile site. But I never received the promised link to view the check-ins. So when I arrived, I had no idea who would be there.

The happy hour was billed ($10) as an event for 45-65 year olds. I worried that the women attending would be on the young end of the margin putting me at an immediate disadvantage. I don’t like competitive situations so if fangs were in evidence, I was prepared to duck out.

Like so many life situations (waiting to take a test or waiting for the results of a medical test), one often anticipates the worst possible outcome. Fortunately, things often turn out well – or better than expected. I feared being a “wallflower.” Other than surviving with ego intact, my goal was to be sociable and talk to some men.

When I walked in, the place was packed. I asked a friendly-looking man if this was the Match happy hour. He smiled and pointed to the back of the main room. There, in a sectioned off area, was a Match check-in desk.

As a somewhat shy person (yes, there are somewhat shy versus totally shy people), I had wondered whether there would be any “ice-breaker” activities. Eureka! Each attendee wrote the last place they travelled to on a sticky note and wore it instead of a name badge. So with Aruba scribbled on my tag, I approached the bar to buy some liquid courage.

It was 30 minutes into the event and people were talking in groups of 2, 3, or 4. I wondered if I could easily break into a conversation. There were clearly more women than men. Sadly, none of the men made my heart stop.

As I turned from the bar, I met “Chicago.” He asked me about Aruba and when I had been there. For some reason, I totally blanked (even before the wine) but finally remembered. Chicago and I had journalism in common and we ended up chatting for about 20 minutes. No sparks but a pleasant time.

As he walked away, I smiled at “Caribbean,” a woman about my age standing at the bar. We started talking, comparing dating notes and life stories. After awhile, we both realized we had the beginnings of a possible friendship. She said, “I consider this evening a win-win,” and I agreed.

After a quick trip to the restroom, I returned to find my new friend chatting with a man, “Sydney and Australian cities.” After “Caribbean” left, I stayed a few minutes to chat with “Sydney.” Again, I felt no chemistry with this man, but we had a nice talk.

It was about 9 pm at this point and only a few attendees remained. I left with an overall positive feeling about the evening.

Summary: About 25 to 30 people showed up versus the promised 70. Most were in the middle or upper end of the predetermined age range so my fears of being the oldest woman there were unfounded. A day later, Match sent a recap showing profile snapshots and photos of all of the people who RSVP’d. You could filter the list to see who had attended – a great idea if you were too shy to approach someone or just didn’t get a chance to connect.

According to the recap, 60 people RSVP’d (not sure what happened to the other 10) and 19 checked in. My guess is a few more just bypassed the check in desk – or I need help with my counting skills.

Everyone seemed friendly. Just like with the Meetups I have attended, people are there to connect so you have a better chance of getting a welcoming reception if you approach someone than you would in a random situation.

There’s no way to know if you’ll meet the man of your dreams at an event like this…but you might have a nice social time, find someone to go out with, or meet a new gal friend. All are win-wins!

And it’s lovely to have a break from scanning the online sites and swiping left or right. I plan on going to another event – perhaps an activity-based one.

Have you been to a dating site event? Let me know what happened.

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes of this crazy dating life.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia