Anatomy of a Brief Encounter with a Catfisher

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The Bumble alerts provided the first clue that something might be fishy (as in catfishy) with my new Bumble match. Although his profile said his name was Bill, the alerts referred to him as Evans. I filed that away in my increasingly dating- weary brain while I juggled playing “let’s get to know each other” with impersonating Nancy Drew.

Let’s chow down on some shrimp scampi while reviewing the evidence.

As soon as I matched with Bill last Saturday morning, I followed the Nadia Standard Operating Procedure (NSOP) – a reverse image search of all of his photos on my phone using the Veracity app. There were no matches but that didn’t mean Bill/Evans was legitimate.

We texted and I learned he was a widower. As I’ve written before, catfishers/scammers often say they are widowers. I filed this second piece of evidence away.

After I got another Bumble alert announcing a message from “Evans,” I decided to ask this guy for his last name.

Side note: Lately I have been asking for the last names of any guys I suspect might have a false profile. The men always give me a name (real or not) that I can then research. So far, every suspect dude has turned out to be a scammer that I then report and unmatch.

Dear readers, if you’re unsure about a guy and decide to ask for his last name, here’s a suggested script in case he asks for yours: I’m asking for your last name for safety and security reasons but I don’t give out my last name until after I have met someone in person. If the guy makes it an issue, I say good riddance!

Back to the story: Bill gave me his last name – and it wasn’t Evans. I now had a full name to search. I was particularly motivated since Bill wanted to know what led to my late-in-life divorce. This is not a question to be addressed via text before you have met someone.

I searched Bill’s full name and immediately found his Facebook page – with one of his Bumble profile photos as his main — and only — photo.

Here were the final pieces of incriminating evidence: Bill’s Facebook page was virtually empty except for the one photo, which was loaded a week ago. Where does Bill live? His Bumble profile said Arlington, VA (a suburb not too far from me). Facebook, however, showed his location as San Francisco. The only personal information about Bill was his marital status – widowed — and his employment — “self employed.” There was no mention of the job listed on his Bumble page. Bill had only one Facebook page like – a media company called, Faith, Family America (this would be enough to turn me off regardless of his status as a catfisher).

My work was almost done. I reported Bill to Bumble and unmatched him (after taking a few screen shots of our exchanges to use as notes for this blog post).

It was only 1 in the afternoon but I felt the need for a glass of wine.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Post-Valentine’s Day Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Edge of 65 vs. 17

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As I laughed, cried, and cringed at the follies of high school junior Nadine in The Edge of Seventeen, I wondered why I love movies about the angst of teenage years. I enjoy a good story but could there be other reasons?

I started thinking about similarities between adolescence and single divorced middle age-essence. It must be time for another compare and contrast blog post.  As we ponder this question together, let’s enjoy a riff on a teenager’s lunch: veggie cheeseburger, sweet potato fries, and an adult “to hell with calories” milkshake.

Spoiler alert: I give away some of the plot developments in The Edge of Seventeen so if you’re interested in the film, read this post after you’ve seen it.

*Struggling to Define Yourself

A teenager like Nadine struggles to define herself. She wonders who she is and whether she’s on the right path in life.

A middle-aged single divorced woman also grapples with identity and the transformation that can go along with a major life change. However, with more life experience under her belt, it may be somewhat easier for her to go through this process compared to a teen’s journey.

Rating: Somewhat similar 

*Figuring out Timing and Sex

Nadine stumbles while trying to balance her desires and interest in sex with her need for real connection. Her passion leads to a sticky situation. A middle-aged single divorced woman has similar conflicts though the issue is not whether to lose her virginity but whether she should consider purely sexual relationships or focus on finding her “soul mate.”

Rating: Somewhat similar

*First/Second Date Problems: Nowhere to Go

The car often becomes the go-to make-out venue for a teenager with parents at home. Similarly, single divorced daters who aren’t prepared to indulge in a night of at-home between the sheets passion may find they are in a high school reenactment of lust between the bucket seats. Tip: Always keep breath mints in the car.

Rating: Oddly similar

*The Importance of Girlfriends

Nadine is fairly miserable as a young girl – until she develops a strong friendship with Krista. They become inseparable until Krista starts dating Nadine’s older brother. Nadine can’t accept this development and the friendship suffers. The loss affects Nadine deeply.

For teenage girls and women of all ages, girl/women friends are essential ingredients in the recipe for life happiness.

Rating: Similar

*Dramatic Mood Swings 

The title alone – referencing age 17 – is enough for you to anticipate the main character’s dramatic mood swings, often influenced by hormonal triggers. Single divorced women of a certain age have also been known to experience hormonal shifts and mood swings. It’s part of our fabulous nature.

Rating: Somewhat similar

*Family Challenges

Nadine, like all teens, struggles with her relationship with her family – in this case, her widowed mother and her more popular older brother. Her difficulties are fueled by her search for independence and identity.

Divorced or widowed middle-aged women may have conflicts with their children as they all navigate life following the death or divorce of a spouse. In the case of the divorcee, she also has to contend with her often-difficult relationship with her ex-spouse.

Rating: Similar

*Bold, impetuous Behavior

It’s no surprise that Nadine demonstrates bold, impetuous behavior – it’s one of the hallmarks of the teen years. She takes her mother’s car keys and drives off (without a license) and later accidentally sends a sex-themed text message to her crush.

Bold, impetuous behavior by older women is more likely to be of a positive nature, rather than actions that often seem like a cry for help. The mature woman, for example, might boldly ask a man out – or over – but unless she has been drinking – her actions are more likely to have been carefully thought out.

Rating: More dissimilar than similar 

Can you think of any other teenage vs. middle age comparisons?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Wavering after a Breakup

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We’ve all been there – that limbo place after a relationship has ended but before a new one has yet to be found.

Sometimes our resolve wavers. We wonder: Did I break it off too quickly or without a good enough reason?  Perhaps the question is: Why did he break it off and can we go back to being a “we”?

This is not an easy topic. I recommend indulging in comfort food as we ponder the issue.

Let’s focus on scenario #1 in which you broke off the relationship. Perhaps you had a good four-fifths of a partnership but the other poor quality fifth was too damn important to ignore. That fifth could be a major difference in outlook on life, sexual compatibility, the role of family, or for a certain age group, whether to have children. Whatever the reason, the fact that this aspect of your coupled life was seriously inadequate ate away at you until you finally realized it was time to move on.

So, you broke it off. And it was damn hard because that other four-fifths was good. And nothing is perfect, right? So should you swallow and go back to Mr. Almost Right?

Here’s a suggested game plan for your wavering, quivering heart.

*Recognize that it’s going to take time to heal.

*Remember what it felt like to not have that important one fifth. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to live with that situation?”

*Rely on your trusted friends for companionship, moral support, and a bigger picture outlook

*Revive your independence and explore fulfilling activities that bring you joy.

*Reach out to expand your social network through Meetups, social clubs and activities, online dating sites and apps.

*Reflect on your ideal romantic partnership. Realize that although you can’t have everything, you should strive for having the most important things.

*Restrict any desires to reconnect for at least 6 months. Distance and time will help you to see more clearly.

*Relish a new relationship if you are lucky enough to find one.

*Rev up your support system if the new relationship is short lived.

*Realize that if you are not in a new relationship – and you want to be in one — you are vulnerable to returning to Mr. Almost Right.

You should follow a similar game plan if Mr. Almost Right called it quits. Although you didn’t choose to end the relationship, it’s important to think about what worked and didn’t work from both of your perspectives.

If Mr. Almost Right gave you a reason for the breakup, ask yourself whether the relationship met your needs. As hard as it is, try to critically evaluate your time together. Talk to people, including therapists as needed. Read about relationships. Ask yourself: Are there things you would have done differently?

You can’t make someone love you–or vice versa, but you can learn from a breakup.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Dating Attention Deficit Syndrome: A New Epidemic?

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I am convinced that a significant number of men on online dating sites are suffering from a severe case of DADD — Dating Attention Deficit Syndrome. Women share this affliction but I suspect there are fewer of them and that they have a milder version of DADD.

Let’s discuss over Anthony Bourdain’s omelet with salmon and chives.

You have heard me rant before about the window-shopping or candy store experience of online dating. A recent virtual encounter on Zoosk triggered the naming of a real affliction I call DADD. (Apologies to all the fathers.)

DADD is backed up by research. A 2015 Pew Research study found that one-third of people who used online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. I imagine these people emailing and texting ad nauseam until the end of time.

Case in point: A recent 10-day text exchange I had with Mr. F from Zoosk. I kept encouraging an in-person meeting but Mr. F was equally adept at promising and delaying.

For example, in a discussion of food and cooking, I suggested we get a drink to plan a salmon throwdown. Mr. F liked the idea and we continued to volley about this and other topcs — on the site and then offline (using my Google voice number).

Mr. F began sending me a daily 5 p.m. text asking how my day was. Sadly, he failed to advance the discussion significantly so that we could learn something substantive about each other. I continued to pursue an in-person meeting. And the kicker? He was constantly online. Every time I went on Zoosk to check messages, I got a notification that my connection, Mr. F, was on the site.

Finally, I’d had enough. At this point, the flirting by text lost its appeal. After a weekend of no contact (although Mr. F was certainly online), I was convinced he was either playing at dating and never intended to meet or he had lined up dates with so many other women that I wasn’t a priority. When he sent his usual 5 p.m. text on the Monday after the no-contact weekend, I decided to rebuff him in a snarky way.   See below for the end of our “relationship.”

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My last “Ciao” was cut off in the screen shot.

As I suspected (and hoped), my response ended this merry go round. When you’re pissed off, having the last word is deeply satisfying!

Mr. F wasn’t the first man with DADD I have encountered. Some have admitted to me they know they are online too much. Even if they meet some of the women they encounter, they can’t seem to stop looking for the next best Ms. Right.

Hope we all find someone who has kicked DADD – or never had it.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Favorite Things: Winter 2017 Edition

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If we can’t have sunshine and warm weather, then let’s celebrate some other pleasures. Sit back with a bowl of shredded tofu and shiitake stir-fry for my new list of favorite things.

  1. Hidden Figures – Original Score

Have you seen this fabulous movie about pioneering African-American women mathematicians who provided critical help for NASA’s first successful space missions? Even if you haven’t watched the film yet, check out the original score by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch. I’ve been listening to it every day for a month and I’m not bored yet.

  1. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

First published in 1983, this book by Roger von Oech explores the 10 mental locks that prevent people from being more creative and how those locks can be opened. If you think you’re creative but want some fresh ideas – and especially if you think you’re not creative – pick up this book to get a fun, out-of-the-box look at creative thinking. Von Oech takes his creative strategies online with creative whack pack apps for iPhone and iPad.

  1. The Intouchables

At first glance I thought this film about a wealthy French quadriplegic and his caregiver from the projects might be depressing. Instead, it was positive, uplifting, and funny. Based on a true story, the film is in French with subtitles.

  1. Lion

You can tell it’s winter by the number of films on my list! Nominated for 6 Academy Awards, you have probably heard about this film. It tells the true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who is lost on the streets of Calcutta almost a thousand miles from home. Bring Kleenex for both happy and sad tears.

  1. Dear Sugar podcast

Looking for advice with “radical empathy?” Listen to the Dear Sugar podcast hosted by writers Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and Steve Almond. Both Strayed and Almond had a turn as Dear Sugar when it was a column in the online literary magazine Rumpus . A collection of Strayed’s columns was published in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.

The podcast version of the column, which began about 2 years ago, promises good news for the lost, lonely, and heartsick. It is available free from NPR, iTunes, and Stitcher radio on demand.

I sometimes listen to the show before I go to sleep. If you prefer to read rather than listen, transcripts are online.

  1. Root Touch-up for Hair

Ladies (and some gentlemen), if you color your hair you might be interested in this product. Available in different shades, Style Edit’s powder-like root touch-up does a great job of covering those gray roots in between hair appointments. It washes out with shampoo but doesn’t come off on your pillow. I don’t use it all the time but it has come in handy when I have had a date and my hair appointment is 2 weeks away. It’s available in salons and on Amazon.

  1. Mortified Podcast

Did you keep a diary as a child, adolescent, or teenager? Do you remember writing a love letter to your 14-year-old crush? How about creating a poem about your “evil” parents or nasty teacher? The Mortified Podcast brings you the recorded live performances of adults sharing their childhood writings.

The best stories are delivered with heartfelt intensity and a recreation of the performer’s younger voice. Check out the podcast or the live performance if you live in one of Mortified’s chapter cities.

  1. Flipbelt

The Flipbelt is a great accessory if you like to listen to music while you lift weights, run, walk, or do any exercise (other than swimming). The soft, stretchy belt holds your cell phone and/or mp3 player, keys, and other essentials. It’s sleeker than a fanny pack and there’s no uncomfortable weight on your arm. I use this in the gym and when walking around the neighborhood.

  1. Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro by Billy Childs

If you haven’t heard Billy Childs’ version of New York Tendaberry with Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma, you’re in for a treat. It’s my favorite song on this all around terrific jazz album. Other album guests include Rickie Lee Jones, Chris Botti, Dianne Reeves, and Alison Krauss.

  1. Babbel

¿Habla Español? Or Italian, Or French? If not, you might want to look into this language-learning app. I signed up for the Spanish version shortly before my trip to Spain. I wish I had found it 6 months before my vacation. According to its developers, Babbel employs cognitive research and communicative didactics to optimize how new vocabulary and grammar is received, saved and recalled.

“Whether you learn best by reading, writing, speaking, seeing or listening, Babbel addresses your individual learning type,” the website proclaims.

I liked the structure of the lessons and found it more reinforcing than other language apps.

Tell me if you try any of these favorite things!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Who’s in your Squad?

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Do you have your squad lined up? Yes, your friends count and they make up part of your squad, but I want to talk about others who enrich your life by teaching you and/or helping you feel better physically or emotionally. These squad members may not have begun their journey with you as friends but your relationship often turns into friendship plus.

Join me in a Paris-inspired lunch while we consider this important group of people. And if you’re tired from marching yesterday, eat with your feet up.

My squad is composed of a personal trainer, a swimming coach, a massage therapist, a hair stylist, and a relatively new one – a fiction-writing teacher.

These are people I look forward to seeing on a regular or semi regular basis. After my divorce, I worked hard to create a new life with new relationships, friendships, and new activities to help me connect with a new self that was growing and figuring herself out. My “squad” grew organically out of the activities I pursued/wanted to pursue. I imagine it will continue to grow as I develop new interests or need help in some way.

I’ve had a few personal trainers over the years. A good trainer not only keeps you motivated to exercise but also ensures consistent progress without injuries. I have been working out with my current trainer for a little over a year. I am stronger now and able to lift huge bags of groceries in a single bound. Ms. R is such a positive, loving person that I truly look forward to a weekly 30 minutes of exhausting my muscles. She’ll text me on occasion just to send what I call a happy note of encouragement and support. Ms. R is a key member of my squad.

My writing teacher is not a full-fledged squad member but I have taken a couple of classes with her and she helps me to see my potential, something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

I don’t see my massage therapist that often but my visits to Ms. K always leave me relaxed and more aligned as my body moves through the world.

You may question the inclusion of a hair stylist on my squad list but I consider her an important member of the team. Ms. S knew me pre-divorce and we visited during some rough times when the highlight of my day was getting rid of my gray roots (pun intended). Hair stylists have a reputation for serving as therapists for their clients and mine was no exception. During my separation and early years following divorce, it was helpful to have a friendly person who listened to my tales of woe and offered practical advice. I didn’t always take the advice but I always left the salon feeling – and looking – better.

The newest squad member, my swimming coach, is young enough to be my daughter but she’s in charge when I hit the pool. She has given me a great gift- confidence in the water. With my fear now gone, I want to excel as best I can at a variety of strokes. Current challenge (emphasis on challenge): the butterfly. My swimming classes have been a reminder of how important it is to always have goals in life. Working toward goals gives you a sense of purpose and achieving them is one of the best natural highs. A good teacher or coach can help you on this path.

What about you? Do you have a squad of coaches, trainers, or teachers? If not, consider finding a few “helpers.” They can make a difference in your life.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia