Dating Newbies: Top 10 Questions

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“I don’t know anything,” said my separated friend when I mentioned a date I had the previous day. She was not dating yet but looking ahead to that day when her divorce would be final. “Who pays?” she asked. “What about the first kiss? What do you say when you want to end the date?” She sighed, “It all seems so difficult.”

For long-time marrieds going through a divorce or experiencing life after the death of a spouse, dating in 2018 can be a culture shock. Here’s a short guide for dating newbies with answers to the top 10 questions.

Let’s discuss the answers over some of Ellie Krieger’s creamy Parmesan spring vegetable skillet. Have two helpings – this is a long post.

Q: I joined a couple of dating sites and started communicating with a couple of guys. One of them asked me to dinner but I thought a coffee date was what people usually did. What should I do? Also, what about checking out the guy online before I meet him?

A: For your first date, it’s best to plan something that takes no more than an hour.* If you are not enjoying the date, you don’t want to be stuck. My favorite first date is meeting for a happy hour drink, appetizer optional. Wine or a cocktail helps with nerves and a drink is time limited. If you’re having a great time, you can always extend into dinner or a stroll outside. A coffee date can work as well – or even meeting for a walk in a public place.

See my posts on dating security for guidance on checking out an online connection before you meet. Update to previous posts on security: Thanks to the recent Facebook controversies, searching for someone’s phone number in the Facebook search bar is no longer an option.

*I break the no meal rule for men who drive a long distance to meet me. I know I’ll have to stick it out even if there is no attraction. However, I also will leave at any point on a date if the guy is rude, crude, or not a nice dude (apologies for shameless rhyming).

Q: How can I gracefully end a date with a guy I realize I’m not interested in?

A: Think about an ending that works well for your situation. The friend I mentioned earlier has three children at home. She has a built in excuse, “I need to get home to my kids.”

Here are some exit lines I have used:
*I’m dog sitting and need to go walk or feed the dog
*I have people coming for dinner and need to go prep
*Sorry but I need to leave (with no further explanation offered).

You could also arrange for a rescue by a friend or relative. He or she can text you 45 minutes into the date. You can then say, “Something has come up and I’m sorry but I need to leave.” Feel free to embellish on the reason – crisis at home, work, etc. These are what I call harmless white lies.

Q: What about paying? What if I want to leave before the check arrives?

A: When my date asks for the check, I’ll offer to help pay. He may say, “I’ll cover it” or he may take you up on your offer.

Perhaps you want to leave before your date asks for the check. If this is the case, give your reason (see above) and ask, “Can I give you something for the check?”

I have been on dates where I left after one drink but the guy stayed on to have dinner. *If I know in the first 10 seconds that I have no interest in a person, I make sure I don’t order any food and stick to one drink so I can leave after a short time.

Q: What about the first kiss?

A: I’ve covered greetings and endings in this blog. I prefer to hug hello and if I feel inclined will fend off a handshake and turn it into a hug.

There’s a whole spectrum of guy behaviors re: that first kiss. Some kiss you hello, some kiss you at the end of the first date, and some men kiss you in the middle of the first date. If he doesn’t kiss you, he may be shy or unsure of your interest.
On a few occasions I have made the first move to kiss. It’s always nice when the kiss is mutually initiated (the magnet effect)…and well executed. Tip #keep breath mints in your purse and your car.

Q: What if he asks me out on date #2 while we’re still on date #1?

A: I was thrown the first time this happened to me. I wasn’t sure about the guy who asked so I said maybe to his “can we get together again?” Truly a wishy-washy response but sometimes that’s the best you can do. If you want to see Mr. X again, there really isn’t an awkward moment. Just say yes.

Q: How soon after the first date can I expect him to contact me? Should I initiate contact?

A: Timing of communication is another issue with a wide range of behaviors. Sometimes a guy will call or text you within an hour after you leave a date; or you might not hear from Mr. X until the next day. The sooner you hear from him, the more likely he’s into you but a 24 hour delay doesn’t mean he’s not interested. Life is like that.

If you had a good time on the date and liked Mr. X, I think it’s fine to text him a few hours after your encounter or the next morning. I wouldn’t wait too long. All you need to say is “It was great meeting you” OR “I had a good time yesterday. Thanks for the drink.” If it’s your style, include an emoji. I like winks and smiley faces with sunglasses. If you have shared a kiss or three at the end of the date, you could use a smiley face blowing a kiss.

Bonus re: communication:
When you are communicating with a guy, be aware of any change in frequency or tone of communication. A change could be a signal that he is withdrawing. Similarly, if you feel a need to pull back, slow your responses and keep them briefer. Sometimes a slow fade away is preferable to a text, phone call or email to say, “This is over.”

Q: What if the first date went well, but there was no chemistry? Should I go out with him again?

A: Some dating experts say chemistry doesn’t always occur right away but often surfaces after you know someone better. Since I have experienced a delayed chemistry phenomenon, I might go out with a guy a second time for an attraction check. People are often nervous on the first date and they may not be their “best selves.”

Date #2 is often a reality check. I have been attracted to a guy on a first date but when I see him again I wonder “What was I thinking?”

Q: I went out with this guy (insert various number of dates) and it looks like we’re likely to have sex in the near future. I’m nervous about a lot of things – STDs, the way I look without clothes, timing.

A: Here’s the teen-like déjà vu moment when you’ve been in a long marriage or relationship and haven’t thought about STDs in a couple of decades. Be a scout and always be prepared. Buy condoms in case you have a moment and he doesn’t have any (shop on Amazon if you’re wary of running into neighbors at the drug store).

When the topic of sex comes up, have a discussion about using protection and/or getting tested for STDs. Ignore “I got tested two months ago.” Suggest to Mr. X that you both get tested and show each other the results. You need to see that piece of paper!

Ignore: “I give blood so I get tested frequently.” Giving blood does not test for 100% of STDS (chlamydia is not part of the blood donation test, per my gynecologist). Again, you need to see something in writing and the test needs to be done after you have this talk. Use a condom until the results are in or abstain.

I find that women are more concerned about body image than men. Male readers, feel free to disagree about this. Low lighting and candles may ease some self-consciousness and add to the romance.

Oh, and that moment when you’re lighting the candles for your first post separation or post divorce encounter might be the time to say, “It’s been awhile” to your partner. If you’re both newbies, this may be a shared issue. Just stating this fact will make you feel better and explain any nervousness.

Timing of sex: This is another “huge range” issue. A couple might have sex on date #1 or date #15. And, yes, there does seem to be something about expectations and date #3. However, do what feels right for you.

Q: I’m nervous about online dating. Can’t I just meet guys in real life?

A: Yes, of course you can and should try to meet guys in real life. See blog tags meeting men in real life and meeting men in the wild for suggestions on how to meet guys offline. Consider real life tactics and online dating. Neither method is perfect but the more things you do, the greater your chance of success.

Q: Any other general guidance?

A: You’re going to make “mistakes” or what I term “recall cringe moments.” Those are the moments when you think back to what you said or did on an encounter and ask yourself, “How could I have said or done that?” or you think “I was too sarcastic” or — insert any of a number of possibilities.

You’re human and you’re learning to navigate a new world. You will do or say things you’ll regret. That’s okay. Mr. X is making mistakes as well.

The more experiences you have – good or bad – the more you’ll understand what you do and don’t want in a relationship or partner. Along the way, you’ll discover all kinds of things about yourself and claim or reclaim your female power. You go girl.

Send any other questions my way.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO
Nadia

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

 

 

 

“Loving” Your Ex

Blog post Julie friends with your ex

I’m still on vacation, dear readers, and have another guest blog post by *Julie Weinberg.

My ex-husband is one of my best friends. He’s remarried with two little boys and with our two kids we consider ourselves a family of seven: three adults raising four kids. We regularly have dinner together, go to our beloved Ravens games together, celebrate Thanksgiving together, and even occasionally vacation together. We’re that close.

It wasn’t always that way I promise. I often say that I married my best friend, lost him somewhere in a 20-year marriage, divorced an ass, and then found my best friend all over again.

How we navigated this tricky transition of divorce-to-friendship is something I’ve been asked about many, many times, including by Nadia, so here’s my story.

At the time of our divorce, I truly hated my ex and would have gladly signed the papers and walked away forever. Divorce comes packaged in feelings of disillusion, disappointment, and anger. I often and loudly opened that package with my friends–or anyone else that would listen. So becoming friends with him again someday wasn’t a goal or even a slight desire.

But we had kids, so I knew I had years ahead of me to deal with him at soccer games, school events, weekend drop offs and pick ups.

Our first step was to come to an agreement about things that were best for the kids’ sake. We made a pact to never fight in front of them, never put them in the middle or make them choose sides, and to always be polite to one another when in their presence.

The always be polite agreement turned into the most important one for our evolving relationship. Whether you have kids or not, it can be the cornerstone of a new, happier affiliation for you and your ex, too.

At first, even fake politeness was a challenge. My trick was to treat him like a work colleague that I did not respect or like but was stuck working with on some project. When a topic arose that started making me angry, I would just look at him, smile and say “not now” and he knew the discussion would have to wait.

The funny thing is, though, the expression “fake it till you make it” is true. My faking politeness became real politeness fairly quickly and once I turned that corner our relationship started to evolve.

Besides hoping the “fake it till you make it” technique would work, I also realized that I needed to let go of all the hurt, anger, and disappointment. It was eating me up inside and bringing me down. As a tightly wound, Type A personality, “just letting go” was enormously difficult for me. He did X, Y, Z to me, didn’t do A, B, C and I dwelled repeatedly on the wrongness of it all.

Visualization techniques proved extremely helpful with letting the negative feelings go. I imagined each remembered hurt as a soccer ball and one by one I’d kick them away in my mind. Or every time I started to think of something that made me angry, I’d visualize placing it on a leaf and watching the leaf float peacefully down a river and away from my mind. Try it! I swear it worked, even if just for a few moments. Then the more I did it, the better I felt and the more capable I was of letting my relationship with my ex organically grow into something really special.

The passing of time, of course, helps too. As the post-divorce weeks turned into months, then turned into a year, we both got on with our lives and all of the new, exciting experiences allowed me to be open to new friendships. I was making all kinds of new friends, my ex and his wife just turned into two of those.

Now, 7 years later, having my ex as a close friend is a topic I usually raise on a first date. I actually use it as a sort of screener: if a man feels challenged by it or is negative toward it, I know he’s not for me so I easily move on. If a man can’t respect the melded family I’ve worked to develop, he probably won’t like other aspects of my life. Given that there are so many fish in the sea, it’s good to find that out on our first coffee date rather than weeks into a relationship. I wish him well and send him on his way.

This relationship has also caused me to be far less understanding of a date who wants to rag on his ex. I understand the need to vent; but I don’t want to hear about how awful a guy’s ex is in detail, especially not on a first date. I always ask myself if he’s relating inappropriate, damaging or highly private details of his previously most valued relationship, what might he say to his friends about me down the road. Again, I prefer to wish him well and send him on his way, too.

These are some of the techniques I’ve used to get past the hurt and anger to develop a warm, close, and happy new relationship with my ex. The calmness to my spirit and added joy he and his new family have brought to my life made the effort well worth it.

*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

 

 

 

Blog Birthday: 14 Lessons Learned about Dating, Sex, and Life in Your 60s

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In honor of the 1-year birthday of this blog (February 14), I’m going to indulge in a brief interlude of narcissism. Today’s theme: what I learned in the last year about dating, sex, and life in your 60s – and blogging.

My goal, as always, is to impart useful knowledge, make you laugh, or just be that wing woman sitting at the whine bar with you while we wonder why the hell we can’t find the one.

I’m going to write this blog post in real dating time. In other words, I’m writing this post while texting two guys simultaneously – a guy from Tinder and a Bumble match.

Given my track record lately, one will turn out to be a Russian spy who has traveled forward in time from the cold war era and the other one will actually be a married trans woman. But hope springs eternal…so I text on.

Join me in an anti-Valentine’s Day treat of creamy Gorgonzola and portobello mushroom risotto created by a wonderfully named chef called Nadia G (of Bitchin’ Kitchen fame). Just substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock and you will eat like Nadia A.

And now I present my top 14 lessons learned in the last year about dating, sex, life in your 60s, and blogging:

*Maximizing opportunities keeps hope alive. I’m on multiple dating sites and apps. Later this month, I will try speed dating a second time (via a new speed dating meet-up) and attend a Match happy hour with live in the flesh as opposed to virtual men.

*Keep trying something new. This is related to the maximizing opportunities point above. The single life is not only about dating but also about finding ways to make new friends and to enrich your life through education, culture, or sport. I signed up for a Spanish class, multiple new meet-up groups, and went to museums, art galleries, poetry readings, and story telling events.

*Keep trying something old in a new way. Because I have CRS (Can’t Remember Shit), I have no idea what I meant when I jotted this down in my first draft of this post…. but it sounds good so I’m keeping it. Please tell me what you think I meant.

*It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Take this in any way you want. Going to a bar happy hour by myself was a leap for this shy blogger.

*Say yes to as much as you can. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re cranky. Go, do, enjoy.

*If a man starts to make you feel bad about yourself in any way, run to the nearest exit. Consider the source and do not believe anything he says about you.

*Similarly, if a man doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, look elsewhere.

*Get used to the roller coaster of dating. One day you’ll be messaging or talking to 3 guys – all seemingly good possibilities and by the end of the next day, one has disappeared, one is revealed as a scammer, and the other one is starting to creep you out.

*Smile to yourself when you’re out with a couple (married or otherwise) that drives each other crazy or engages in petty fighting. At this moment, say, TGIS (Thank God I’m Single.)

*If a man’s total focus is on sex – either before or after you meet – drop him even if you want sex.

*Put on your big girl panties and tell your man what you need and what you want.

*Keep a journal or write a blog to help you figure out your life. Writing an anonymous blog helped motivate me to try new things – for the good of the blog. 

*Be as physically active as you can to relieve stress and to feel better about yourself.

*Be a woman who roars. Revel in your strength and independence. It feels good to add oil and transmission fluid to your car, tighten that loose toilet seat, manage a home renovation project, and book an overseas trip.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know. If you liked this post or any past ones, sign up to get regular email delivery of this blog. To maximize your pleasure, sign up for my Twitter feed and like my Facebook page. You’ll get frequent daily updates of news and features about dating, relationships, sex, the single life, and life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Get your Angries Out

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Have you gotten your angries out? If you’re divorced, widowed, or single following the break-up of a serious relationship, you know what I mean. Whether you were the “dumpee,” the one left behind, or the instigator dumper, there’s bound to be some anger floating around your universe.

I went through an angry phase after my separation. This followed a phase of disbelief, which in turn was preceded by a coma-like period. Got that? Coma – disbelief – anger.

Perhaps you have experienced a marital coma state. In my case, it consisted of several years of slow disengagement from my then husband. When you’re in a coma, you know something is not right but you don’t want to face it, so you ignore it.

When I finally woke up from my coma thanks to a crucial conversation, disbelief set in. After a long marriage, it is indeed hard to believe that it is over. But once you do, it’s time for some healthy anger. Chow down on some angry shrimp as we talk about this emotion.

So once it was clear that I was going to be in a for a long, complicated and painful divorce process, there were lots of triggers for “the angries.”

Let’s run through a list of angry triggers that may resonate with you: the reason for the divorce, the lack of or ineffective attempt at reconciliation, the impact on your family, the impact on your self esteem, the impact on your finances, the actual divorce settlement, etc, etc., etc.

The purpose of this post is not to wallow in anger. It’s to lobby for the benefits of accepting the anger, embracing it while it lasts, and working through it so that you can dismiss it. It’s all part of the healing process.

So back to the end of disbelief. That’s when I started to channel The Incredible Hulk on a periodic basis. I’d be going along, coping, getting the business of healing done and then bam, out of the blue, something would happen to trigger a burst of anger, fortunately without the ripping of clothes and transformation to a green monster.

I remember one instance in particular. I was working out on the elliptical at home, listening to a Pandora station when You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette came on. I hadn’t been feeling angry but listening to the raw anger of the lyrics (what a perfect break-up song), brought out my own hostile thoughts.

I started to fantasize about a graphic revenge scenario. Think Kill Bill. This was not the kind of thing I typically imagined. As I stepped furiously on the machine, my own personal revenge movie streamed on my consciousness. I increased the volume of the song to fully experience it. When it was over, I was exhausted but somehow I had worked through the anger by working out and hearing another woman’s wrathful tale.

The next time I wanted to exercise, I downloaded You Oughta Know and had a 4-minute angry therapy workout. This plan served me well during the divorce process.

As time went on, bursts of anger got shorter and less frequent. Now, after 6 years of healing, I rarely experience the angries.

If you are newly separated, divorced, or widowed or just never got your angries out, seek out some home-brewed anger therapy. Find your favorite revenge song, strap on those sneakers, and work through that anger.

You’ll feel better, help mend your broken heart and strengthen it at the same time.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Single Lady Sings the Holiday Blues

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The blues ain’t nothin’ but a pain in your heart

When you get a bad start, you and your man have to part

I ain’t gonna just sit around and cry

                      Lady Sings the Blues, Billie Holiday

It’s Labor Day on Monday – not a religious or sentimental holiday – and yet, I’m wondering if I’ll have the holiday blues. What single person doesn’t know about this affliction?

Since my separation and divorce, I’ve lived through 32 major holidays — Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah, New Year’s Eve/Day and Valentine’s Day. This will be the 33rd.

And that’s the key, isn’t it? I lived through them.

Some may argue that Valentine’s Day isn’t a major holiday but when you’re separated, divorced, or frustrated by the single dating life, a lack of a Valentine honey can be depressing.

And Labor Day always seems to remind me of intact family and relationship celebrations.

But I’m not going to wallow here. I’m going to tell you about some good post separation/divorce holidays I HAVE had and give you an action plan to prevent or at least help you cope with the blues. While we discuss this plan, let’s have some of Tori Avey’s Black-eyed pea burgers.

Last Valentine’s Day was the first one since my divorce in which I had a date. It was a good thing since I had recently endured a breakup with Mr. L, a man I had been seeing.

I wasn’t head over heels in love with my Valentine’s date and we only went out once after that but on February 14 we were both in the mood for a romantic celebration. We went to dinner and a play. He brought me chocolates and wore a dapper suit. I wore a red dress. Despite the freezing cold and snow, we had a good time.

The Valentine’s date was preceded by Hanukah and New Year’s Eve celebrations with family and Mr. L (even though we were too new for a “family meet.”) So I got a taste of the type of celebration I had been craving – a mix of family and a romantic interest. And that was a good feeling – even if I couldn’t duplicate it on every holiday. It provided hope and a sense that there was a “turnaround” in the way life events could play out for me as a single woman.

So what can one do to prevent or lessen the holiday blues? It’s not DNA sequencing science and hopefully you will get some new ideas or start thinking of your own tactics. (Side note: Since Labor Day is the day after tomorrow, some of these tips will be more useful to you for future holidays.)

12 Tips to Prevent the Holiday Blues:

  1. Make plans. In advance. At least a week before the holiday, reach out to friends or any family living locally to see if they can get together for an evening out, unless you are planning to entertain. See Tip #2.
  2. Host a gathering – whether dinner or a game night (on TV or a board game). Make sure to invite your single friends who may also suffer from the holiday blues.
  3. If you’re feeling brave, plan to get out of town on a solo travel adventure. Check out these resources for ideas and possible companions:

Wandermates

Solos Vacations

Brown Girls Fly

Meet Plan Go

Wanderful

Girls that Travel

Journey Woman

Girl about the Globe

Only Pack What You Can Carry

  1. Sign up for a Meetup event.  The closer it gets to a holiday, the more Meetup activities are scheduled. You’re not the only one at risk of the holiday blues.
  2. Commit to an engrossing project:
  • Organize your music downloads
  • Create a new music mix file for the gym
  • Purge and clean out your closet and pack up stuff to give away or sell
  • Organize photos into albums
  • If weather allows, plant or weed a garden
  1. If you enjoy arts and/or crafts, commit to a one or two-day project. Plan in advance and get any needed materials. Listen to music, have a glass of wine, and create!
  2. Plan a reading or TV series marathon. Make sure it’s a book or show that will transport you. Periodic escapism is healthy.
  3. If stores are open, shop. Retail therapy in moderation and within budget is therapeutic. You will be where people are even if you don’t know them and that might make you feel better.
  4. Work on improving or refreshing your dating profile. Join a new dating site or rejoin a site you cancelled because no one was on it. New guys are always joining. And holiday weekends are active times for online daters, perhaps because everyone has a touch of holiday blues.  Consider joining a crazy niche dating site you haven’t tried such as Bristlr.
  5. Stay up late and watch old romantic movies.  Throw caution to the wind and rent a pay per view film.
  6. Schedule a massage the day before a holiday (unless you can get one ON the holiday). A good massage = lovely.
  7. Go to the gym and exercise like crazy. You won’t be the only one there. Make those endorphins work overtime.

Whatever you do, don’t pay bills, organize old family photos (that include ones with your –ex), or do anything that is not fun and uplifting.

Let me know if you ever get the holiday blues and share ways you cope.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating,

XXXOOO

Nadia