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

 

 

Top 10 Dating Obstacles

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If you follow Olympics-related news, you likely read that obstacle course racing may become an Olympic sport.

Coincidentally – and despite having some romance possibilities — I have recently been thinking about dating obstacles.

Let’s ponder this issue while indulging in a lunch fit for an athlete or dater in training.

To appreciate the variety of dating obstacles, it’s worth a quick review of obstacle course racing (OCR).

According to Wikipedia, OCR is “a sport in which a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges that are in the form of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and the races are designed to result in mental and physical collapse.”

Note the reference to mental and physical collapse, which I bolded. I find this is a good analogy for the mental burnout that can result from the trials of modern dating.

Listed below, for your reading pleasure, sympathy, and empathy are the top 10 online and app dating obstacles:

*Finding someone you like and are attracted to

To do so, you must wade through a series of profiles with awful photos, poor to nonexistent writing skills, and such descriptors as “married” and “God-fearing.”

*Finding someone who also likes you

Hopefully your retooled, now excellent profile and carefully chosen photos serve you well.

*Connecting

Perhaps you view Mr. Z’s profile. Mr. Z then views your profile and photos. Does he write to you? Do you write to him? If neither one of you reaches out – even if someone has “favorited” or “winked” at the other person, call it a lost cause.

*Moving beyond the emails and texts

If you start corresponding with someone, will you get beyond this form of communication? Will you speak on the phone or arrange to meet? Or, will he or you just stop writing?

*Having a phone call

If you end up having a phone conversation, will it be good and balanced or will one of you indulge in a monologue?

*Moving beyond the phone call

Assuming you have a phone conversation, does he initiate an in-person meeting? Do you want to meet him or did he say something that turned you off?

*Scheduling

If an in-person meeting/date is proposed, can you find a day and time to meet? Does he live an hour away? Can you both find a convenient time and location?

*Follow-through and waiting

Perhaps you have a tentative date scheduled but lately he’s been online quite a bit and you start to wonder if the date will be finalized. You worry that he’s window-shopping for his best option (as he sees it).

Do you hang in, keep busy, and keep looking (the old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” cliché)? This is a particularly challenging obstacle. With any luck, your date will be confirmed and finalized.

*In-person meeting

If you are finally on an in-person meeting/date, is there chemistry and connection? Does he look like his photos? Do you? Is there give and take during the conversation? Flirting? Real listening?

What’s his body language like? Does he dive into inappropriate topics such as the terms of his divorce, previous relationships, or recent surgeries?

Do you want to kiss him? Is he a decent kisser?

*Second date

Was there enough good in the first date to consider a second one? Does he text you after date #1? When/if will he ask you out? Will you go out with him again?

If everything fizzles at this point, and there is no second date, sit down and rest. You may be exhausted from running and leaping over obstacles. But don’t give up. Keep at it.

Eventually (and it might be a long eventually), you’ll ace this almost Olympic event and go on that second, third, fourth, and fifth date….

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Post-Valentine’s Day Blues

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Are you feeling the post-Valentine’s Day blues? I am and perhaps it’s because I didn’t follow through on all of my Valentine’s Day Resolutions to meet men in real life.

Let’s enjoy a blues-appropriate lunch of Southwestern black bean quinoa mango medley. Keeping it light for the approaching bikini season.

Oh, yes, those resolutions. I’m afraid I didn’t attempt all of them…and in one case, I tried to game the system by combining three in one day.

Among my resolutions were plans to write in a coffee shop, have dinner at a bar, and go to a “social” grocery store in the evening. As mentioned above, I mistakenly tried to cram all three actions into a single afternoon/early evening.

Here’s how the day went: One Wednesday afternoon, I decided to try writing at a local Starbucks. I arrived about 3:45 p.m. Although there were a couple of solo men working on laptops, the venue was sparsely populated. I selected a table where I could see one of the guys but it was too far away for conversation. Had it been more crowded, it might have been less awkward to sit fairly close to one of the laptop guys. However, it wasn’t a great loss since neither man was age appropriate or particularly attractive.

Since not much was happening in the possible romance department, I decided to focus on writing. This became a challenge in concentration as a man and a woman sat next to me and carried on an annoying conversation. I should have followed the advice of one of my teachers who suggested taking notes on the conversation of strangers in order to improve one’s dialogue writing skills.

Lesson learned: Late afternoon may not be the best time to meet men in a coffee shop—though this could vary depending on the venue.

Continuing my experiment, I walked over to a nearby restaurant/bar with the intention of having a happy hour “dinner.” Although some happy hours are lively at 5 pm, this popular restaurant’s bar area was practically empty when I arrived. A couple of people sat in one of the nearby booths but virtually no one was sitting at the bar. I ordered a drink and appetizer in hopes the venue would fill up but only a small group of work colleagues sat down. I decided to cut my losses and head to the Whole Foods across the way.

Lesson learned: Some bars ARE busy at 5 pm so it makes sense to try different venues at different times and on different days of the week.

It was about 6 pm when I arrived at the Whole Foods. I was a little too buzzed from the afternoon’s competing libations – a Starbucks cappuccino followed by a generously poured glass of wine. Needless to say, I wasn’t in prime flirting form. I failed to go to the produce aisle where imaginary men could ask for my help in selecting vegetables or to the prepared foods counter where more imaginary men could ask if I have ever tried the General Tso’s Vegan Chicken.  Instead, I shopped for things I actually needed or wanted to try (e.g., Halo Top ice cream).

Lesson learned: Don’t do a grocery run when you’re tired or tipsy. Do stroll to the best meeting locations within the store (after you select whatever you really need).

Aside from the 3-in-1 disaster, I made progress on some of the other resolutions: I signed up for a free introduction to improv class to be held this weekend, registered for more meet-up events, and made a resolution action schedule (promptly ignored).

It’s always worth celebrating the small victories. Without my list of resolutions, I might not have done any of these things. Plus the benefits extend beyond possible romance –  friendship opportunities in the meet-ups and improv class and pennies saved via a produce sale at Whole Foods.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

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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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

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

Giving a Bad First Date a Second Chance

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Happy Thanksgiving week! I’m busy eating leftovers so please enjoy this guest post by Julie Weinberg.

I never give a bad first date a second chance. It’s a rule I established long ago in my eight years of post-divorce dating. It stemmed from a series of bad second dates following bad first dates. I asked myself, why bother? I thought my gut reaction during a first date was pretty accurate so I just went with that.

I recently had an experience, though, that has me wondering if my rule is perhaps too rigid. My shift in position is based on an interaction rather than a date but I think the principle applies. Here’s the scenario.

I arrive at a meetup.com happy hour–wait, stop the story. You’ve never heard of meetup.com?! Finish reading and commenting on this post and then immediately go to meetup.com where you will find a bonanza of like-minded people of all age groups who share your interests and plan events around them. Whatever your hobby or favorite weekend activity (comedy clubs, bird watching, hiking, canasta, you name it), you will find groups of people making plans to do it. Best yet, it is almost always FREE!

Back to my story. While spending three weeks visiting the San Francisco Bay Area on vacation, I go to a meetup.com happy hour at a yacht club. Last interruption. Note: I am not even from the Bay Area but I searched meetup.com and found what I thought would be a really nice way to spend an evening when I had nothing else planned. I swear I am not getting paid by meetup.com to promote their site; I just think it is a fabulous resource for singles looking for fun things to do. On to the story…

I walk into the restaurant and meander over to an organized looking group of about 20 people and confirm it is my meetup group. I plant myself at a table of seven or eight people and sit next to an attractive gentleman. After he exchanges pleasantries with everyone at the table for a few minutes, Mr. Attractive turns his attention to me and we dive into a more private conversation. I like him. He’s quite funny and captivating. I am thinking I would definitely like to go out with him.

During a lull in our conversation, another man at the table makes a comment about his experience on match.com and now everyone joins in the conversation because we all have online dating stories. We talk about profiles and I say, “I am brutally honest in mine” and Mr. Attractive says, “That’s a red flag for me. Someone who says she is ‘brutally honest’ really just means to me she’s a rude bitch.”

The table gets quiet. I burst out laughing because I can’t believe how rude Mr. Attractive is being to me, right there in front of everyone. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and, in my head, rename Mr. Attractive to Mr. Rude. Another woman also excuses herself, and we bond when she says, “I can’t believe what a jerk that guy was.”  We spend the rest of the evening getting to know each other and, despite Mr. Rude (or really because of him), I now have a girlfriend in the Bay Area.

A week later, while still in the Bay Area, I attend a big singles mixer at an extremely posh hotel. Two hundred plus people are in attendance. About an hour into the event, guess who comes up to me? That’s right. Mr. Attractive/Rude. I couldn’t believe it. Why would a man who announces to the world that he thinks I am a “rude bitch” be so bold as to make a second attempt at getting to know me?

Being a direct and honest midwestern girl, I cut him off and say, “I am not sure what you are thinking here, but after how rude you were to me last week I really don’t want to chitchat with you now.” He is flabbergasted. He has no idea he was rude and he wants to know what he said that made me feel that way. We proceed to spend the next hour dissecting the conversation, me telling him how I took his comment and he explaining what he meant. During this evening’s conversation, he is again engaging, funny, and apologetic. I start liking him again. By the end of the evening, he asks me out.

I was leaving the next day so the date didn’t work out but we agree to stay in touch and see each other the following month when I am back in the Bay Area.

More importantly than a potential date with Mr. Attractive/Rude, this experience got me to think about my “no second date” rule. By limiting a guy to a single coffee date, am I missing out on getting to know a really great guy? Maybe I am being too harsh. I am not sure, but over the course of the next few months I may soften my stance to see what happens. Stay tuned.

*To learn more about Julie, visit her website julieweinbergbooks.com or purchase her book, I Wish There Were Baby Factories.  

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Meeting Men in the Wild: Behavioral Science to the Rescue

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I’m taking a cue from the behavioral sciences to increase my comfort level with going to bars solo to meet men.

Join me in some slow cooker ratatouille and I’ll fill you in.

From what I have observed, most men are comfortable sitting in a bar solo with the intention of meeting women. Although some women also have a relaxed attitude about this tactic, a fair number of us, including me, are NOT at ease.

I have no problem going to a bar with a friend or two in hope of flirting with and meeting men. But going by myself is another story and since I believe that romantic success in a bar setting is more likely if one is alone, I have challenged myself to get comfortable with this approach.

This is where psychology comes in.

My discomfort as a solo bar goer does not qualify as a phobia and it certainly is not at the level of a panic attack. However, I reasoned that exposure therapy, a demonstrated treatment used to treat phobias, panic disorders, and other conditions, might help with a “softer” issue.

There are various types of exposure therapy. My plan is for “in vivo exposure,” basically forcing my butt out the door and into a nice happy hour venue with an age appropriate (loosely defined) clientele.

Exposure therapy may be combined with relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety and to help the individual associate the targeted activity or situation with relaxation. A nice glass or two of wine works well in the Nadia version of this technique.

Exposure therapy à la Nadia has another element, which I’m calling The Back Story. The Back Story is the story you tell yourself about a situation to help you deal with it. When you play that role, like the award-winning actress that you are, it’s easier to cope.

So if I tell myself that I’m visiting DC and don’t know anyone here, I feel more comfortable doing things solo. It sounds crazy but it seems to work. I am much more at ease going solo when travelling so an inventive Back Story helps me channel that comfort level in my hometown.

To date, I’ve had four solo bar outings (no friends accompanying me, no wing women etc.). And it has pretty much been a bust – other than having a nice glass of wine and delicious appetizers. I’ve talked to the bar wait staff and in one case discussed the food with two married men. But I have either picked a bad time (the bar is deserted or so crowded that strategic seating choices are limited) or a bad bar (in terms of clientele). And I still feel awkward when I go. But practice makes perfect (cliché happiness) and I plan to keep trying.

Maybe one day I’ll actually meet an eligible man at a happy hour.

How’s your search going?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia