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

 

 

 

 

 

Serendipity, Tiny Things, and Facebook

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I’m a big believer in serendipity — something good like a meet-cute happening by chance. It comes with the hopeless romantic territory of my mind. I love every movie that explores the issue of serendipity, including its namesake film.

Serendipity relates to my theory of tiny things making big differences. Am I confusing you? Eat something before you faint and all will become clear.

Here’s what got me thinking about this issue. In my quest to say yes to fun and to “get out there,” I recently went to a jazz concert with a gal pal. We learned about this concert from a DC jazz events newsletter.

After the concert, we approached the newsletter writer (let’s call him Mr. B) and had a nice chat. He introduced us to the singer and star of the show. Mr. B’s love of the genre makes him a one-man jazz PR machine and he seems to know everyone connected with music in the DC metropolitan area.

When it was time to leave, Mr. B suggested I friend him on Facebook.   (No, he’s married; this is not where I’m going with this.)

It’s time to think of Facebook in a new way. Many dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel use Facebook friends and the connections of Facebook friends as the fodder for your potential matches. These Facebook connections make up a good number of the guys or gals you will be asked to swipe or select.

A new Facebook friend becomes not only a social media connection but also the possible entrée to the love of your life. When I was married and later when I was newly single, I didn’t devote much time or energy to Facebook. Now, not only do I care about this blog’s Facebook page but I also care about my personal Facebook page. The reasons are two-fold – to stay in touch with real life and potential real life friends AND to open the door to more matches.

After I got home from the concert, I sent a friend request to Mr. B. He accepted a couple of hours later. The next day, when I went on Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel, I was pleased to see a bigger than usual crop of matches (many with a connection to Mr. B.)

I matched on Tinder with the head of a high school music program. We haven’t messaged each other yet…but that’s par for the course.

The key take away from this post is that a new Facebook friend can indirectly –through dating apps — open up your dating possibilities. Facebook can also be a direct link to love. You may have heard about people who have connected on Facebook and found new or renewed romance.

No, Mark Zuckerberg did not pay me to write this blog post. But if you are on Facebook-based dating apps, be more proactive about acquiring new Facebook friends (reach out to your real life friends) – even if you never post updates or look at your newsfeed. It’s a tiny thing but it could make a big difference in your dating life.

If you enjoyed this post or any past ones, subscribe to get regular e-mail delivery. Follow me on social media too: Twitter, Facebook.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Could Wearable Tech Help Singles Connect? A Scientific Fantasy

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Lately I have been wondering if scientists and medical engineers could create a new wearable tech device to help singles connect with each other.

Let’s discuss over a lovely mushroom leek and fontina frittata.

There’s definitely a need for such a product. Just look at how many millions of people are on dating sites.

And there’s money to be made! Love is a multi-million dollar business if you factor in dating sites and apps, matchmakers, writers, bloggers (minus one blogger not earning anything), therapists, coaches, etc., etc.

So, we have identified both a population need and a viable economic industry.

What would this wearable tech device do and how would it work? You may be wondering if I’m imagining an orgasmatron-like device as conjured by Woody Allen in Sleeper. No, I did not say I was imagining a device to help singles sexually connect.

I’m thinking of a device that single men and women could wear that would sense and signal mutual chemistry and attraction. Let’s imagine that this product is a pin, a watchband and matching ring duo, or a special vest.

There is already technology to sense heart rate and respiration, research on sensors that measure the skin’s electrical properties, and studies on devices that detect emotions. Wearable tech is still a growing research field but is it that much of a leap to think that a chemistry/attraction wearable device could be invented? One challenge: Some of the research involves MRI scanners– a bit large scale for a wearable device.

The Product in Action 

What would happen if this device was developed and used?

Here’s an imaginary scenario involving two singles who are wearing a watchband/ring combination device that I call the Attracto Band-Ring:

Nadia is at a local health food store sampling the free cheese. Just as she reaches for a lovely morsel of Brie with truffles, her hand grazes another customer’s. She looks up to see an attractive man who smiles and apologizes for crowding her selection. She’s immediately captivated. Almost instantly, the tiny LED lights in Nadia’s watchband and ring start to glow. She looks at the man’s hand and confirms that his watchband and ring are also glowing. Just like a “match” on Tinder, they both know the other person likes them.

Will Mr. Attractive Stranger suggest a green tea latte at the health food store café? Will Nadia ask for Mr. Stranger’s number? The next step is up to them. The glowing watchbands have given then a sense of security. They each know they won’t be rejected outright if they choose to connect. And isn’t fear of rejection often the reason people don’t reach out?

Would you wear an Attracto Band-Ring? Let me know.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

A Change in Dating Tactics

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Online dating and dating apps are not working well for me. In the spirit of “I’m not giving up yet,” I decided to change my approach to meeting men.

Have some cheesy rice with asparagus and I’ll explain my reasoning.

I am frustrated with the caliber of the men who reach out to me. With apologies to Lady Liberty, don’t give me your tired, your poor, your uneducated, unkempt, and uninformed. Do give me an age appropriate educated man with a sense of humor. Age appropriate is difficult to find.

I believe – and my single friends will back me up on this – that the men about my age who are online are reaching out to much younger women. Some of them try to get away with this by lying about their age. I have caught men in an age lie (e.g., a reference to a 50-year-old son by a man who is supposedly 60). Sometimes all it takes is a close look at the guy’s photo to know the age on the profile is inaccurate.

My profile has my real age and perhaps that is the problem. If most of the men are lying, I sometimes wonder if I need to shed some years to be competitive with the younger women they are pursuing.

I recently met with a matchmaker who confirmed the ageism reality of online dating. When a man plugs in his search criteria – or just browses online – he may disregard women in their 60s, even though these women may be in great shape and able to pass for women a decade younger.

If that same man met an attractive 60+-year-old woman in person, he might ask her out without even knowing her age. I believe age discrimination may also explain why a man who matches me on Tinder immediately unmatches me. My guess is that he selected me based on my – recent – photo but balked when he saw my age.

We all know that people age at different rates.   Appearances aside, many “baby boomers” have a young outlook on life, are active, social, interested, and interesting.   Jumping down now (despite my aging knees) from the soapbox.

My new approach involves a combination of stepping back from online dating, embracing in-person opportunities, and, in a case of turnabout is fair play, seeking out younger (not crazy young) men who appreciate a woman of a certain age. Like many of my about-faces, this approach may not last long.

How will I put this strategy into action? Here’s my plan:

Online Dating Pullback:

I’m on a lot of sites and apps. I won’t be checking these sites as often and I’m considering hiding my profile on a couple of them. I also will stop going to the online dating sites on weekends. Some dating coaches recommend a temporary total break from online dating and I may try that at some point.

For my no online on weekends experiment, the traditional dating sites (Match, OkCupid, etc.) will be off limits between Friday at 6 p.m. and Sunday about 5:00 p.m. Not only will this give the impression that I am dating up a storm all weekend but it will also give me a break from the tedium of the online experience. To feel like I’m doing something proactive, I will still swipe on the Tinder and Bumble apps. These apps require less work and no one can tell when you were last on them.

Meeting Men in Real Life: 

In recent months, I’ve been gravitating toward meeting men in the wild – going to a Match happy hour for example. The matchmaker I recently met thinks meeting men in real life is my best tactic. It’s a work- around men who search for younger women and won’t consider someone their own age. Pros: I will know if there is in-person chemistry and what the person really looks like. Cons: I’m shy in certain social situations so this will be tough for me.

To implement this approach, I signed up for memberships in the Smithsonian (classes, films, concerts, and trips) and the Phillips museum (events, concerts). I also joined The Writer’s Center (classes and events).

I’m already in a number of Meetups and have met some great women friends. I plan to seek out new groups that offer more potential for a romantic connection.

Younger Men: 

Let me start by saying I hate the word cougar. I think one of the male equivalents – manther – is just as bad. Let’s just call it what it is – dating younger.

On the dating sites, I see 60-year-old men seeking women 30 to 45. I’m not that unrealistic and that would be too much of an age gap for me. However, I’m o.k. with a 10-year-difference give or take a few months.

Apparently, there are a number of women who don’t mind a substantial age gap. I’m currently reading Raven: My Year of Dating Dangerously by a 60-year-old woman who has a wild time with men several decades her junior.

The Raven’s experience aside, I doubt I will have the same success as 60 something men who wish to date 50 something women. But if I strike a 54-year-old’s fancy, I’m open to dating him.

Wish me luck dear readers and let me know how your dating life is going.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Meet-Cute

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About a year ago I had what could be described as a meet-cute encounter. I had been working to control my resting bitch face in hopes of meeting men in the wild and so when a meet-cute opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it.

In honor of the first day of spring, let’s have some pasta primavera while I share my story.

I was walking home one late afternoon after a stroll in the park. As I approached a basketball court in typical full man-watching mode, I noticed a tall grey-topped specimen with diminishing plumage who was shooting hoops. I walked by just as he scored. Remembering my resolve to be open to all opportunities, I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. Mr. B (for basketball) looked at me, grinned, and threw me the ball. We shot hoops for about 20 minutes.

During this time I learned that my new friend was a teacher at the local community college, had survived a heavy recreational drug-using period during his youth, and was now practicing some kind of “higher power” philosophy that related to him having two first names. I also learned that he had a former girlfriend who had been living out of the country and texted him while we were shooting hoops to say she was in town.

When it was time for me to leave, we exchanged first names (two first names for him) but no numbers. As I continued my walk home, I thought about Mr. B and decided he was mildly attractive (too sweaty to get a full read on this) but had a couple of red flags. He had a somewhat flaky persona typical of former heavy pot smokers and he practiced the mysterious higher power philosophy.

Despite these reservations and the fact that I didn’t even know if he was single, I wandered back to the basketball court several times over the next few months. I never saw Mr. B again.

Had we exchanged contact information and actually dated, this would have been a perfect meet-cute.

Although the term meet-cute has been around since the 1940s, I had not heard of it until a friend used it to describe my basketball encounter.

According to the Urban Dictionary, meet-cute is a “scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better). The way the characters meet in “Serendipity” or “When Harry Met Sally” or at least half the romantic comedies out there.”

I’ve always been a hopeful romantic so I love the idea of a meet-cute relationship launch.

I have a number of meet-cute fantasies. Here’s a sample.

Fall In Love

I’m not into spectator sports but a date at a Washington Capitals game revealed a hockey loving audience of tall, hunky guys.

In this meet-cute fantasy, I’m trying to navigate the bleachers to find my seat when I stumble and land in the lap of a particularly handsome fan. Think Claudette Colbert when the bus swerves and she falls into Clark Gable’s lap in It Happened One Night. We both laugh and after I apologize and stand up, my soft landing partner asks for my number.

Double Uber

It’s been a long day and after a late happy hour I don’t feel like taking the subway home. I decide to treat myself to an Uber ride. As I approach the car and confirm that the license plate and vehicle match the message on my phone, I see that a sophisticated looking gentleman is approaching my ride. Just as I’m about to open the car door, he says in a lovely British accent, “Pardon me, but I think this is the car I ordered.” “I don’t think so,” I say and show him the message on my phone. He has the same confirmation on his phone. We laugh and decide to share the ride.

Dogtopia

As a favor to my daughter, I bring my grand-dog Rover to the dog park. Rover encounters Lucy, a sprightly golden retriever, and the two fall madly in love. They engage in tail wagging, lots of sniffing, and even kissing. Lucy’s owner, an age appropriate athletic-looking guy, and I have a great conversation. We plan a double play date for the dogs and for us.

Given the right circumstances and the attitude to move things forward, these meet-cutes could happen.

Do you have a meet-cute story you can share? Write me!

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe to this blog for regular email delivery.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia