Diary of a Solo Trip

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Day 1 (Monday):

I’m sitting at the JetBlue gate at Reagan National waiting for my flight to Tampa, Florida when I get a “like” and “comment” in support of my solo travel virgin post. I consider this a good omen! Update: my daughter couldn’t join me after all so this will truly be my first solo vacation trip (business trips do not count).

You’ll need fuel for this long post so have a generous helping of a yummy dish I made last night: baked cod with olives and limes .

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Finally on the plane, I stretch out in the exit row. It’s definitely worth the extra money to be able to extend my long legs. No one is sitting next to me — a rare luxury. Sadly, this also means there’s no chance I’ll be sitting next to an attractive male. I have no qualms about sitting in the exit row. I work out and swim and am capable of opening up the emergency door if needed. Good to feel empowered!

As the plane takes off, I give myself a silent reminder to lose my typical Resting Bitch Face expression for the duration of the trip. Let’s see how this goes!

Evening 1 (Monday):

After picking up my rental car at the Tampa Airport, I drive the 75 minutes or so to Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island.

I chose this area because of the beautiful Gulf Coast sand and clear water that I love so much and my impression of a laid back, casual town with enough restaurants, bars (with music), and shops to keep me mildly entertained.

As a solo traveler, I didn’t want a high end fancy resort populated by couples and families.

I picked my hotel for it’s “practically on the beach” location in the center of town. Hotel reviews promised a casual vibe and there is an on site restaurant/bar with nightly live music. As a bonus, my room has a full kitchen.

I arrive at the hotel about 6 pm. After the obligatory quick walk on the beach to check out the sand and surf, I decide that the best social option for dinner is to eat at the hotel bar.

Only a few people are sitting at the bar. It seems strange to plop myself next to them when there are so many empty seats so I pick a location at the end with a nice view of the beach and sunset across the street. I enjoy the ambiance and my well-made skinny margarita. I try to relax and not worry that I don’t have anyone to talk to.

After a short time, a group of 5 people arrive and sit next to me. Soon they engage me in their conversation. Lovely! One of the women and I talk about extroversion and reaching out proactively to talk to strangers. I am impressed by her confidence. She says she puts on a different persona when she travels. She’s more outgoing when she’s not in her hometown and is unafraid to initiate conversation with men.

After we finish our drinks and food, some of us decide to explore other nearby bars with music.

We find a lively bar with an engaging band and I even get up to dance solo, along with several other women. Note: I am typically a shy dancer who is most comfortable shaking it alone in my living room.

Day 2 (Tuesday):

It’s a beautiful morning and I stroll down the street to a dockside restaurant. I enjoy my standard egg white/veggie omelet outside by the water.

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After breakfast, I drive to the local grocery store for provisions. While checking out, I get a text from one of my new “met at the bar” friends. She’s flying home today and asks if I’d like to meet the group for lunch in an hour. How nice to get the invite but the beach calls to me so I decline. A few hours later, I make plans to meet another group member, Ms. A, for dinner Wednesday night.

Finally – I’m on the beach. Once in the water, I swim confidently but the current carries me farther out than I intend. I’m in deep water and the shore seems far away. Plus I wore myself out and I’m tired. No family members or friends are keeping an eye on me and there’s no lifeguard. My swimming form degrades, as I try not to panic and do a toddler crawl to get toward shallower water. I’m soon back on the sand feeling silently chagrined (no one knows what happened) and remind myself of the ocean’s power – particularly when I’m alone.

Evening 2 (Tuesday):

I want to be pampered for dinner tonight so I head to the Beach House and ask for an outside table for one. It’s lovely to relax near the water as the sun sets. I’m sitting near a family with an infant and young children and another table of teenage gigglers enjoying a grown-up dinner. I’m happy to be past these life stages and savor my wine and grilled fish. After dinner, I stroll through the town and even though I’m pretty well stuffed I stop by a soft ice cream place for a vacation indulgence.

Day 3 (Wednesday):

Today the water is like glass (another reason to love the Gulf) and so clear I see a starfish on the ocean floor. Swimming is effortless today. A school of small fish decide to bump me on their way south. Later a huge manatee swims by as everyone on the beach strains to see. I practice my Spanish with a young family from Argentina and chat with a woman who moved here from Maryland. I think my Resting Bitch Face is on vacation.

While drying out in the warm sun, I play with my dating apps. There are certainly more potential matches in Florida compared to the DC area. This is another reason to go on solo trips. I chat online with two Bumble matches. One sends me his cell number and I use my premium whitepages account to get his name. Further searching pulls up his photo on mugshots.com. Sigh! No more dates with ex-cons (a post for another day).

The other Bumble match is either a fiction writer or I’m way out of his league. After I challenge him and he unmatches me, I wonder if I’m jaded and overly suspicious. Have I rejected a good prospect? Details to be provided in a future post.

Evening 3 (Wednesday):

I drive across a bridge to the tiny waterfront town of Cortez where I meet Ms. A at a dockside restaurant/fish market. Tonight’s dinner was swimming in the Gulf a few hours ago.

Ms. A and I get to know each other. I’m impressed with her sense of adventure. She’s another example of a woman starting over and making a new life after a marriage ends.

Day 4 (Thursday):

Another perfect beach day with water like glass. No daytime adventures other than reading a good “beach romance.”

Evening 4 (Thursday):

Mood check: So far I feel okay on this trip. I am wondering, however, if I’ll meet more people. If I’m to gain confidence with solo traveling, I need to feel that my Monday night socializing was not a fluke.

I’ll have my chance to find out tonight when I return to the restaurant/bar under my hotel.

I arrive about 6 pm. The bar is fairly empty and I find a seat with a view of the ocean. It’s clear that I’m a creature of habit as I order a skinny margarita.

I look around and notice an attractive man sitting alone across the bar. As I assess him, I conclude he is too young and too short for me. Still I know I should smile at him but can’t seem to do so. This is something I need to work on. I remind myself that a smile is not necessarily a come-on but it boils down to being a shy ambivert and fearing rejection. I can handle online rejection but it’s harder for me to contemplate an in-person snub.

While I’m inwardly berating myself, a couple in their 70s walks in and sits next to me. At that moment, my fish n’ chips arrives. “Good choice,” says the man in a British accent. I laugh and ask if that’s his real accent. It’s real and I learn that the couple lives just outside of London. We have a delightful conversation about their trips to the US, my trips to Europe, our respective children, their grandchildren, etc. At one point, I notice the man across the bar has left. After dinner, I say goodbye to the couple and go for an evening walk on the beach. I feel a little lonely as I watch couples and family groups strolling by.

As if on cue, my daughter calls to see how I’m doing; I instantly feel better.

Day and evening 5 (Friday): 

It’s perfect weather for my last day at the beach. Mood check: I am feeling a little lonely.

A planned dinner with Ms. A is cancelled when her mother has a health crisis. I opt for another dinner at my hotel bar. No connections are made tonight and I only talk to the bar staff. It’s time to go home.

Day 6 (Saturday):

I head to a gas station near the airport to fill up before returning the rental car. Tampa Airport is well organized with good signage and soon I’m having a leisurely pre-flight lunch with a glass of wine at…yes, you guessed it…an airport bar/restaurant.

Mood check: I’m feeling very competent at the moment. I enjoyed my first solo vacation and made some connections. Although I had a few lonely moments, I have those at home too.

Considering a solo trip? Some insights/lessons learned:

*A beach trip can be a good first solo vacation. Days are easy and with the right town, nights can be fun.

*Pick a relaxed friendly beach town with enough bars, restaurants, and shops so you have options for things to do. Three to four full days and nights (two travel days) is a good length for a first solo trip.

*Read solo travel blogs for travel tips.

*Pick a hotel with a bar/restaurant or one that has nearby bars/restaurants so you have built-in and nearby dining options.

*Eat dinner at the bar if you want to socialize. There’s a good chance people will initiate conversation and you can practice being proactive.

*Be friendly and talk to as many people as you can – people near you on the beach, people swimming, staff at bars and restaurants, and shopkeepers. Even if you don’t make a friend, you’ll feel less lonely.

*Call, text, and email family and friends to feel connected and especially if you’re feeling lonely.

*Visit any dating sites and apps you belong to for a new crop of potentials. If you’re lucky, you might even meet someone in person. As always, use due diligence to vet anyone you meet.

Until next time, happy travels and dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

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

To PDA or Not

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Today’s topic: Public displays of affection (PDA): Yes or No? And what does it mean if you do or don’t like PDA? Can a disagreement about this behavior be a deal breaker?

Lots of questions to chew on while we chew on a delightful dish of baked feta and greens with lemony yogurt.

Let’s define PDA as showing physical affection to a romantic partner in the form of kissing, hugging, caressing, back rubs, or holding hands.

In this post, I won’t be discussing having sex on the beach, in an airplane, or a public bathroom. That’s a topic for another day – or maybe not.

I’ve encountered all degrees of PDA-friendly guys – both in terms of their real life behavior and what they mention in their online dating profiles.

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For some guys, a woman’s rejection of PDAs is a deal breaker. I don’t think about this characteristic when I review my checklist of desired attributes in a mate and I wonder if other women include “Enjoys PDA” on their must have list.

It may not be a deal breaker for me but I admit to indulging in PDA, reluctantly or enthusiastically – depending on the situation.

I have experienced a greater degree of PDA behavior early in the dating process. I may not be ready to go to a guy’s home or invite him to mine but I might want to kiss and hug him.

A PDA pet peeve: it bugs me when guys pick the most public spot to engage in PDA. I’d rather be discreet – an unlit bench in a park or a quiet spot in the parking garage as he walks you to your car. However some guys decide that standing by the door of a restaurant is the ideal spot for extensive kissing as customers enter and exit the establishment. Still others like long form smooching near the busy parking machine and elevator. Oy! Not my cup of tea and yet if the guy’s a good kisser, I might put up with it briefly.

What about parks? A guy I was dating engaged me in PDA in all corners of a public park’s extensive garden. We tried to find big trees and dense foliage to hide behind. It was fun and had an element of “danger” in that we could be discovered.

Sometimes when I am kissing a guy in a more public setting, a person walking by will say, “Get a room.” It is always said with a smile and laughter, perhaps because the commenter engages in similar behavior.

People have different standards and levels of comfort with PDA. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone and go into a more circumspect mode when children are around.   I have noticed more public making out in foreign cosmopolitan cities, e.g., Barcelona, Venice. When traveling, it’s always a good idea to check the local customs regarding showing affection, greetings, and non-romantic touching such as handshakes. It could save you embarrassment and even jail time.

So why do people engage in PDA? I view it as a spontaneous need to show affection to a partner. In some cases, the couple has nowhere private to go. However, research has identified other factors in play. One study of college students (admittedly I’m light years from that age group) found motivations included enhancing image; inciting jealousy or envy; proving a relationship; and for women, sexually arousing men.

So, the whole PDA thing can be a sticky wicket. If you and your partner disagree about PDA, you’ll need to come to a comfortable resolution. And when you’re having that talk, it’s worth checking in about what I call pDA for Private Displays of Affection, which are so important to the health of a relationship.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Reading for Extra Credit:

Reasons small public displays of affection mean a lot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Solo Travel Virgin Plans a Trip

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When you don’t have a romantic partner, travel for pleasure can be problematic. After the end of a marriage, who you vacation with is no longer a given. Have a taste of roasted mushroom and broccoli grain bowl while we explore this issue.

Did you and your now ex spouse have a regular vacation plan– South Carolina in July and Vermont in the fall with an occasional splurge trip to Europe? Or maybe every six months you picked a destination out of a hat and went somewhere new.

Were you that couple who preferred to schedule everything or did a no plans type vacation excite you more? Who was the planner in your travelling duo?

Before I was married, I travelled with my future husband several times a year – to beaches, to visit family, out West, to Europe. We travelled well together – no fights that I remember, though sometimes our interests diverged. I was the planner.

Sometimes travel plans were hatched but not implemented. We never took a much-discussed cross-country trip with our dog – despite buying a special truck just for that purpose.

Our vacations changed once we married and had kids. Finding a putt putt took on critical importance. Without a babysitter accompanying us, there were no late nights at music clubs. As the kids grew older, we sought out beach places with “teen centers.” After the kids were out of the house, we took “couple vacations” again before the marriage was over.

Now as a free woman, I can travel at will with only my needs and schedule to consider. It could be exciting but I’ve been fighting the inevitable solo vacation. As I write this post, I’m trying to figure out the source of my reluctance.

My concerns:

*I will be lonely and miss having a companion to share experiences with

*I won’t meet people, said the somewhat shy ambivert

*I will dine alone at every meal and will feel awkward

*If it’s night and I’m lost in a place where I don’t speak the language, I’ll be in harm’s way.

Fortunately, others who have faced the same fears have come up with ways to overcome them.

I reviewed the alternatives to solo travel. Organized group travel – even when the trips are geared to singles – don’t appeal to me at present. Finding friends to travel with is not always easy, as they often want to travel with their spouse or partners. And single friends may not always like the same kind of trips or have the same budget.

Since my divorce, I have been fortunate to have my daughter as a travel companion. We’ve had some great trips but her life is busy now and she’s not always available to travel with me. This surfaced recently as I discussed taking a much needed spring trip. It appeared she would not be able to come this time.

So I bit the bullet and reframed my sadness over not having a travelling partner as an opportunity to finally experience solo travel. Baby steps I told myself. No need to jump into a solo vacation with a 5-week backpacking trip through Thailand or a several month journey through Mexico. I decided I would be better off starting my solo travel experiences stateside where I could speak the language. And given the long, grey winter; the idea of a beach vacation seemed perfect. I decided to focus on Florida and hoped to find an area I had not been to before.

There was much agonizing over the specific beach town, the type of hotel, the type of city/community, etc. I didn’t want to blow my vacation budget on a luxury resort experience in Florida. With other more exotic trips on my bucket list, I needed to be mindful of my travel dollars. I also wasn’t sure that as a single traveler, I’d be comfortable in a fancy place. I’d have no problem enjoying a luxury hotel with a travel buddy but I was looking for a relaxed, casual vibe this time. I thought a smaller hotel/motel would be less intimidating. Similarly, I wanted a low-key town where I could wander into a café or tiki bar and feel comfortable by myself. Think: the opposite of South Beach. And I wanted to be on or close to the beach. I hoped to find a place with a big pool but sadly only the huge, expensive resorts have dreamy infinity pools.

Finally, I found a small hotel right on the beach in a quaint beach town on the Gulf Coast. Booked everything and felt empowered. I had finally done it! My solo travel life was beginning. I texted my daughter the trip details.

“Yay,” she wrote back. And then a couple of minutes later, “I checked my schedule. I can go with you!”

Until next week, happy trip planning, dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Solo Travel Resources:

 

https://solotravelerworld.com

 

http://www.adventurouskate.com

 

https://www.women-on-the-road.com/best-travel-blogs-for-women.html

 

 

Three, Two, One, Zero Dating Prospects

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Remember my failed attempt at the dating rule of three when I thought I might be juggling three men at the same time? I had a similar experience that began last weekend. As the week progressed, three was reduced to two, then one, and now zero.

Join me in a bowl of Spring Pasta Salad while I share my subtraction problem.

The three candidates:

Mr. M: Nine years my junior, 1.5 inches taller than me (later you’ll see why I bring this up), a self described INTP.

Mr. J: One year my junior, a journalist, 6’4”.

Mr. R: Four years younger, an hour’s drive from me, self-employed.

I spent the most time communicating with Mr. M. After I “liked” him on Match, he wrote a confusing message that had me wondering whether he was interested. I pondered whether to reply and decided to write back with a touch of humor.

In hindsight, his first message which discussed the fact that he was not truly 6.0 but was 5’11.5” was a clue about his anal retentive personality. If I’d been paying more attention, I would have realized it was a warning.

Mr. M rounded up his height, he wrote, because he “grew tired of women automatically subtracting 2” from my height when I truncated the fraction and listed 5’11” (apparently, a lot of guys in the 5’8” to 5’9” range list 5’11” as their height on dating sites). That no longer happens at 6’0”. You are tall woman. You need a man who is at least 6’0”.

It turned out he was interested and said he thought the difference in our ages (not his height) might be a problem for me (Nonsensical since I sent him a “like.”) He wrote a couple of complementary messages and then we explored our mutual interests including music, being active, and travel.

All seemed promising until he turned my question about how long he had been divorced into an excuse to mansplain his views on today’s dating world, human behavior and physiology.

As part of his cave man soliloquy he made a comment that I didn’t care for about women who fall outside of his “normal parameters.”

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He went on and on and on about man’s primal urge to pursue, men’s average height in the US, female preference for tall men even if the women are relatively short and “woman’s basic primal need to feel safe and secure.” In between the mansplaining, a little insecurity disguised as bravado appeared:

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I was getting more and more annoyed. His messages were long and instead of getting to know me he was standing on a soapbox, actually trying to stand taller on a soapbox.

I tried to shake him out of his pontification mode with a mildly sarcastic comment and a suggestion that it was “too depressing to think about dating in terms of statistics.” He ignored my comments and barreled through. I just stopped responding to him.

Almost two days later, for closure’s sake, I messaged him that I felt like I was being lectured to rather than participating in a conversation. I also let him know that being considered “outside of normal parameters” (his way of describing our age difference) didn’t feel good to me. No response, which was fine. I was done.

Mr. J, the journalist or should I say the reticent journalist, was the second to fall. Despite a life of words, he was the opposite of Mr. M in his correspondence style. He was brief – perhaps too brief – and to the point. We only exchanged a few messages – about a novel he was reading that I had started. I pushed for him to post some additional pictures. He only had one of his head (not even shoulders were visible) and his other photo was of his dog.

Mr. J acknowledged he should add more pictures and two days later he messaged me that he had loaded three photos taken that day. Sadly his photos were disappointing, making his initial more flattering picture look like an aberration. I couldn’t see myself with him.

It’s always awkward when you ask someone to post more photos and then if he does you find that you are not attracted to him. My tenderhearted nurse daughter said, “Oh, he looks like my patients.” “This is sad,” she said, “I couldn’t do online dating.”

I felt bad but knew I had to at least acknowledge Mr. J’s effort. I wrote to him and thanked him for posting but didn’t add any further comments or questions. I’m sure it was clear to him that I wasn’t interested and we’ve had no further communication.

I matched with Mr. R on both Plenty of Fish and Tinder. At first I hesitated to say yes to him – with interests in music and a business in remodeling homes, he had some similarities to my ex. Overall he was different enough — and appealing enough — to convince me to go forward. Mr. R asked me out on POF but then on Tinder he worried about the distance between us. He asked me for my view and whether I thought he was being shallow or realistic.

I wrote back that I thought long distance relationships (if an hour qualifies) could work but it depended on one’s desire to get to know a particular person and the individual circumstances of available time and energy. I said that I’d like to meet him and asked him to let me know if the distance would be too much of a negative for him.

Mr. R thanked me for my response and said he would think about it. That was last Thursday and I haven’t heard from him since. He’s been on POF and I assume he’s moved on. It’s possible Mr. R could still reach out and zero might become one…but I’m doubtful since there are plenty of female fish closer to him.

That’s the story of three to none. App-less April is here just in time.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Annoyed Woman Leads Good Dating Behavior Movement

annoyed woman

Remember the line in Broadcast News when a news anchor yells, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?”

It’s time, ladies, to start “not taking” men’s bad online dating behavior anymore. During this activist time, let’s bond and call men out when they deserve it. And my male readers, I urge you to do the same for the women who exhibit bad manners.

Let’s do this with control and politeness – there’s enough ugly commenting happening online already. But let’s make our points. Our goal: To change the Tinderverse (and other dating worlds) one exchange at a time.

Yes, in fact this is my super power. Call me Annoyed Woman.

Annoyed Woman still likes to cook. Try this crispy tofu from the kitchn, a recipe inspired by my recent cooking class. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice or incorporate into a stir-fry or pad Thai.

The last time I was on the receiving end of bad behavior, I wrote the following response. I didn’t send it and it’s too long but, next time I will pen an appropriate length communication and send it out to the offender. “This is how we can start to turn things around,” she said optimistically.

Dear Mr. Tinder, Match, OurTime, BUMBLE, OkCupid, Hinge,

Imagine for a minute that we met at a party and started chatting. We talked for an hour and a half exploring 19 different questions and issues. And let’s suppose that I made a comment and asked the 20th question of the evening…and then you just walked away. Not a polite- “Well, I think I’ll get a drink” or “I see someone I know, it’s been nice talking to you.”  Or “Sorry I’ve got to make a call but can I get your number?”

None of that, you just walked away.  Hard to imagine doing that in “real life,” isn’t it? You’d be a real jerk if you behaved that way.  

And here is the challenge and the problem with a virtual conversation. It’s still a conversation. You assume that because you’re not standing in front of someone, there’s no accountability or responsibility.  

But when you act like the other party doesn’t really exist, that she has no feelings, you dehumanize what could be a real connection. By not saying “Nice chatting with you. Take care,” you have ruined an opportunity for grace and either continuance or closure. And you are now primed to continue acting this way in other dating encounters, whether it’s breadcrumbing or ghosting or any of the myriad modern dating actions which are really new words for the same old bad behaviors.

What do you think (other than the length)? It starts with you ladies. Let’s do this.

As you know, I like to leave you with a laugh…so let’s enjoy some crazy messages and profiles (and one clever one) from my dating files:

pix1

I guess I’m a nice guy….Not sure how/why I got this message!

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pix2

No comment.

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pix3

A for creative

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pix4

Likely a fake profile but regardless this embedded “jornalist” needs to embed in a good proofreading book.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Nadia Tries Cooking Classes

cooking class

I’m getting ready for App-less April by trying to do new things in real life that might lead to an in-person romantic connection. Online dating increasingly discourages me. It can work and should be part of every single’s dating armamentarium (emphasis on the men). But for me it involves a high investment of time, money, and energy with a very low rate of return.

Dating experts say you can meet people anywhere – the grocery store, the gym, the line at the bank, walking your dog, etc. So far my daily routine has not brought me a love interest. So I’m branching out…and my first endeavor: cooking classes.

To whet your appetite for this post, enjoy some spring green risotto. I made this one Thanksgiving – substituting veggie stock for the chicken stock. Serve with grilled shrimp for a lovely decadent meal.

My cooking class theory: There are a lot of single men who might be interested in learning to cook or improving their skills. Perhaps, before their divorces, their wives did most of the cooking. Now, they are tired of takeout or they want to be able to cook for their children or a date. And, like me, they wonder if a cooking class would be a good way for them to meet a romantic partner.

I like to cook and have a fair amount of skill in this area but can definitely learn more. It’s important to have an interest in whatever extra activity you do to meet men. That way you’re having fun and/or learning something regardless of the meet-cute potential.

I searched for cooking classes and found a convenient venue with a good variety of types of classes and times. My first class was observation only. The time: 5:00 p.m. on a weekday. The subject was pad Thai, a dish I had once tried obsessively to perfect. My at-home experiment involved a variety of recipes using different ingredients and cooking methods. I ended up with tasty dinners but none of them tasted as if they had been made in a Thai restaurant. A pad Thai class could be the answer to both my recipe and man obsession.

Only one other person signed up for the class and….it was an age and height appropriate divorced man. His motivation for taking the class was cooking for his vegetarian college age daughter. Theory proved! Sadly, he was not my type. The only sparks were on the stove.

And the recipe was not my type either — too salty, too spicy, and did not taste like a Thai restaurant entrée. However, I did pick up some useful cooking tips including one for tofu: After pressing tofu to reduce the water content, dust it in cornstarch—not flour — before frying for a crispy, not greasy end result. Okay — maybe you knew that already but it was news to me and I was happy to learn about it.

The second class was hands on and involved three seafood dishes, including one with mussels. I love mussels but have never cooked them. Is there a word for fear of cooking bivalves? I had cooked scallops before and shrimp (not bivalves but on the cooking class menu). But mussels (and clams) always intimidated me. Perhaps it was the fear of not recognizing a bad mussel?

There were 12 of us in the Saturday afternoon seafood class but only one man…in his early 80s and with his wife. I was not overly disappointed because, hey, I was about to cook three fabulous dishes. All of these recipes were delicious and I’d share them but they’re not online. Added bonus: I lost my bivalve fear as I learned about ripping the beard off of mussels and rejecting bad mussels. If the shell of a raw mussel is open and won’t close if you hold it shut for 30 seconds it is a bad one OR if the shell of a cooked mussel won’t open after it’s cooked, it’s bad.

mussels

It wasn’t my day for romantic serendipity but there was a happy coincidence for two of my class mates. These women had gone to college together in another state, hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, and found themselves placed side by side in the same cooking class.

Until next week, happy cooking and dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia