Self-Absorbed Questioners: A Non Dating Rant

blog pix narcissistic questioner

At the end of an engaging live conversation between Tom Hanks and Ann Patchett about the former’s new book of short stories, Hanks answered questions from the audience. The delightful part – in addition to Hanks’ answers – was that the questions were submitted in advance on index cards. So Patchett, who conducted the interview, could screen out the narcissistic or self absorbed questions.

If you have been to a talk by an accomplished and celebrated person — and you stayed the entire time — you know what I’m talking about. Join me in some phyllo pie with butternut squash, kale, and goat cheese while I rant.

I experienced the narcissistic questioner a few days ago at a lecture about learning. A woman approached the microphone and prefaced her question about… Let me restate this. The audience member focused on her preface and at the end asked a short question. Her preface recounted in detail her personal and familial medical history. Admittedly the woman had a compelling story of overcoming the effects of two strokes in her 40s — but it was too long. She could have asked a question about learning after brain injury without the personal introduction. After all, hundreds of people paid to hear from an expert and time was precious. Given a choice, an audience wants to hear more from the expert they came to see and less from that person in the next row.

Narcissistic questioners often focus on personal and family health crises. I remember when an audience member at a 2017 National Book Festival talk by author Diana Gabaldon described the cascade of health problems that led to the death of her newborn grandchild. A horrific story but this was neither the place nor the time to present it. Then, remembering that she was supposed to ask a question, this woman acknowledged Gabaldon’s recent status change to grandmother and asked if the writer liked this new role.  Gabaldon was sympathetic and gracious and answered the question. It seemed to me that the audience member was more interested in an “audience” with the object of her fan club than an answer to the grandmother question.

A narcissistic questioner may also be a narcissistic “friend.” Do you have a friend like this?   If you tell your friend about something that happened to you – whether good or bad — the friend may briefly acknowledge your news but then he or she transitions to a story about experiencing the very same thing. Conversation hijacked, sometimes ad nauseam.

Let’s get back to the questioner issue. I have a suggestion for all the audience members who would like to ask a question. It’s okay to briefly compliment the speaker, e.g.: “Thanks for writing some of the best books I’ve read” but then go right into the query – about the speaker or his or her work. Don’t share your issues. If you want to make a personal statement, tweet, post on Facebook, or actually talk to your friends and family.

Until next week, happy ranting or not ranting.



Favorite Things: Fall 2017 Edition

Fall 2017

  1. First Dates

Misery loves company and you know I’ve had some first date disasters. That’s why I enjoyed this first season of a TV show that lets you observe a real live first date (as real as it can be when people are watching). The couples are straight, gay, older, younger, and of various races. What’s most interesting to me is the variety of personalities and dating histories – from a guy who’s a medium to a gal who’s a virgin. At the end of each episode, you learn whether the couple wants to see each other again. By the way, not all of the dates are disasters.

The show, based on a British TV series of the same name and produced by Ellen DeGeneres, is available on Hulu and is streaming on a variety of services. No word yet on whether there will be a Season 2.

  1. A Mighty Love formerly The Tao of Indifference

Check out this blog by Demetrius on dating, relationships, and love. He tackles everything from dating success to where to go on dates to getting over a crush to dating someone who is seeing other people. I find his counsel to be well thought out.

  1. WizGear magnetic cell phone car mount

You know you shouldn’t hold your cell phone while you drive – even if you’re trying to use a GPS app. After a policeman gave me a warning for holding my phone while stopped at a light, I purchased this inexpensive cell phone car mount. WizGear is a magnetic device that easily attaches to a car’s air vents. The package comes with thin magnets that you place between your phone and the case. Then stick it on the WizGear. Voilà! View your phone’s turn-by-turn directions as if you were viewing a built in car GPS. Remember those?  Check it out and be safe.

  1. Meetways

You matched with a guy but he lives 60 miles away. He asks if you could meet in the middle somewhere. Who you gonna call? The answer: Meetways, a nifty website that allows you to find a halfway point. Just plug in two locations, your mode of travel, and the type of venue you’re interested in (e.g., wine bar). You’ll get a suggested list of places to meet. There’s also a mobile version. In addition to date planning, I have used Meetways to find a place to meet a far away friend.

  1. Better Things

I stumbled across Season 1 of Better Things while browsing on Hulu and wondered how I’d missed this fantastic and oh so real television show about a single mother raising her 3 daughters. So many of the scenarios are spot on: the difficulties of having privacy and a sex life when you’re a single mom; juggling work, kids, and an aging parent; being so good at the single life that you can’t imagine partnering again. Some of the plot twists and dialogue are a bit over the top. I overlook these because of the many powerful scenes, some without dialogue. Check out Season 1 on Hulu. Season 2 is on the FX cable station.

More info:

NPR: Better Things

The Atlantic: Better Things

  1. Calm

I never got over the bedtime story ritual. But sometimes listening to The Moth or Mortified podcasts before bed gets me wired rather than sleepy. That’s when I turn to deliberately boring and soothing sleep stories available on the Calm app. Find a narrator and a plot line that appeals and journey to dreamland. Other app features I have not yet tried include music and sounds to help you sleep or relax and guided meditation.

  1.  Tinder Takeover

Google Tinder takeover on YouTube and you’ll come up with videos of celebrities such as Megan Mullally of Will and Grace, Amy Schumer, and Seth Rogen taking over a mere mortal’s Tinder account. At least one writer thinks celebrity takeovers interfere with the chance of someone finding their perfect Match on Tinder. I think there are so many non- celebrities goofing on Tinder that we might as well enjoy the satire.

  1. Our Souls at Night

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford together again is reason enough to stream this movie on Netflix. I also liked the boldness of Fonda’s character and the depiction of both loneliness in older age and new “older” love.

  1. Sofar Sounds

I recently learned about Sofar Sounds house concerts. Since I haven’t been to a concert yet, this is a favorite thing to try. You can sign up to the service for free then browse the dates and general locations of upcoming concerts in a city of your choice. Sofar Sounds is currently active in 379 cities worldwide. If you want to go to a concert, you are entered into a “lottery.” If you are chosen, you’ll pay for tickets and will then be given the specific address of the venue. Many of the concerts are in private homes. Some of the musicians are well known, e.g., Ed Sheeran. For convenience, there’s now a Sofar Sounds app.

  1. Libby

Are you a reader who would like to save money on books but prefer to read on an e-reader such as Kindle? A new app called Libby connects your library card to your library’s electronic repository so you can e-read to your heart’s content. If you have library cards in more than one district or state, register each one. That way if there’s a hold on the book of your choice, you can try another library. Audible books are included. Libby has its own e-reader or you can ask Libby to send books to your Kindle.

What are your favorite things?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.



Anatomy of a Brief Encounter with Mr. Hot ‘n Cold

blox pix hot n cold october 8

Sometimes it’s tough to come up with a lesson  learned from a life experience. In a recent dating encounter, I thought I had a lesson in the “pros” of a woman being proactive, but alas there was no prize.

Join me in some Octoberish one pot creamy pumpkin penne while I present the facts. Perhaps some of the behaviors described will seem familiar to you online daters, whether you’re male or female. In a new feature of this blog, dating tips will be asterisked.

Last June, I matched with Mr. M on both Zoosk and Tinder. Mr. M wanted to chat with me on Zoosk so I sent him an opener. He responded and we volleyed briefly until he walked away from the game. My last message to him hung in the cloud and I wondered if my comment was lacking.

After a couple of days with no exchange, I unmatched Mr. M on Tinder and assumed our encounter was destined for the dating waste bin.

Then, unexpectedly in September, Mr. M “super liked” me on Tinder, signifying our third match.

Here’s what he wrote:

“Hi there! What a fantastic and charming smile. For a moment you look so familiar.”

Snide thought (in my head only): Of course I look familiar, this is the third time we have matched. I had documented our previous exchanges via screen shots* but I played it cool.

Hi, I wrote, I think we matched on another site.

“Well,” he responded, “we need to meet, have coffee or tea for a wonderful conversation soon.”

It’s always my goal to meet soon, I responded. Ignoring my archival screen shots, I asked him to refresh my memory and provide a brief profile. (Sometimes I ask guys with no profile for their elevator speech.*)

Two days later, I still had not gotten a response to my question. Feeling fed up with this guy’s behavior, I decided to give him a piece of my mind.

text to Mr M

Twenty minutes later, Mr. M wrote back to say that work had gotten in the way and asked if we could speak by phone.

I suggested he send me his number and said I would text him that evening to see if it was a good time to talk. This is my preferred method* of initiating a first phone call. My goal here is primarily to use a guy’s number to search for him online and to verify his identity. Searching a phone number* on Facebook or LinkedIn can often lead to a profile even if that number is not visible to the public.

Bingo. I found Mr. M on both social media outlets and his profile, resume, and photos were in sync with the earlier dating profiles he had created. He was an interesting man of many talents and interests and I felt he was worth pursuing despite our shaky communication start.

We had a good phone call and some follow-up texting using my *Google voice number. Two days later he invited me for a Friday night happy hour. He let me know the evening would be his treat. I appreciated that – no need to fumble over splitting/not splitting the cost.

Of course, Mr. M was late to our meeting/date but he both phoned and sent text updates from the stalled beltway. When he walked in, I was impressed with his height (6’3”) but since he was wearing a suit, I couldn’t assess whether his broad shouldered body type was fit, a factor that’s important to me.

We stayed at the bar for 3 hours, a long first date by most standards. Mr. M talked more than me (a general pattern with guys) but I liked that he showed his vulnerability and love of family. His body language (lots of arm touching and eye contact) conveyed that he was into me and I liked him too.

Although I was disappointed that the conversation was more about him, I anticipated a second date would show whether there could be a greater balance in our interaction. A second date would also help me decide about some potential red flags (a brief Vegas-stye second marriage that was annulled, some X-file type comments that intrigued me but had me wondering).

At one point, he asked if I was seeing someone. I said no and he said the same when I inquired about him. Later I wondered if I should have qualified that with “I’m in contact with several matches but not in an exclusive situation.”

Overall date score: B+. I felt chemistry and connection.

After Mr. M paid the bill, he said he didn’t want to leave and we ended up sitting for a bit by the jazz combo that was playing before he walked me to my car.

Surprisingly, he tried to shake my hand goodbye but I cut him off at the non-pass and went in for a kiss and hug. Quite nice. He walked away and came back for a repeat.

I had a short commute home but during that time Mr. M called me twice, which I took as a strong sign of his interest.

All good, right? I anticipated a second date with Mr. M so I was surprised when the next evening, he sent a text:

“Had a wonderful time last night am little afraid to start cause I don’t want to have another failed relationship…will call u later

Hope you are having a great day”

My first thought: WTF??? For the second time, I was compelled to give him a piece of my mind.

I focused on the fact that after one date, it was way too early to talk about a relationship or exclusivity, let alone the possibility of failure. I wrote him my heart is open to finding the right person despite the risks of it not working out. I ended the text by letting him know that I liked him.

A day later he responded with a typo-filled text. The gist was that he liked me but didn’t want to disappoint me and let me down if it didn’t work out.

I texted him that was still a lot to take in after one date and asked what he wanted to do. Later that night Mr. M wrote that he looked forward to seeing me again and “we will talk tomorrow.”

He phoned the next day. I asked him to explain his concerns. He said there were many issues –including not wanting to introduce someone to his daughters and then have it not work out. He wanted to know about getting together but I reminded him I had relatives in town. Then work interrupted him and we never finished the call.

He texted a couple of times after that but did not phone again. I was starting to mentally write him off but decided to do one last bold thing and invite him for a drink on Sunday afternoon. He said he had a work deadline for a project due the next day and suggested instead that we try for during the week.

I stayed cool and replied Okay, sounds good.

A week passed and no word. I decided he was a Mr. Hot ‘n Cold type, unmatched him on Tinder, and moved on mentally. Then 9 days after our last correspondence he sent a text (typos and missing words included):

blog screen shot M #2

This was disturbing. There was no explanation for the 9-day lapse. He wanted help with finding an apartment in MY TOWN. He mentioned hanging out FULL TIME. No, no, and no.

Remember, this is all after one date.

I didn’t know what Mr. M’s deal was but I wanted no part of it and blocked his number.

So did I learn the value of being bold and proactive? During my first exchange with Mr. M about his letting communication drop I worried that my behavior would backfire and turn him off. But it didn’t. He told me on our date that he liked my bold message. In a later communication, I didn’t care about being “too bold.” I was more interested in letting him know it was too early to talk about a relationship.

The whole bizarre encounter shows me (once again) of the crash and burn dating phenomenon: When guys are too gung ho in the very beginning, it’s often followed by a withdrawal. This burn part might play out for different reasons and for different lengths of time but the result is the same – an ending. Ladies, be wary* if a first date is “head over heels.” Watch for signs that he’s about to crash and burn.

Farewell Mr. M. Next!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




blog pix birthday

I’m late with this post but I have a good excuse. I was celebrating my birthday. I looked up celebrating to be sure that word still works for me at my new older age…and in the broader sense it does, so I’m keeping it.

Let’s talk about birthdays in this age of uncertainty: uncertainty about revealing your age, whether in fact you’re happy about getting older, and any related existential questions. And since fish is good for you as you age, check out this excellent collection of fish recipes from Positive Health Wellness while we chat.

I celebrated my birthday with relatives – including my children, siblings, and their significant others. We ate too much, I opened presents, and we caught up with family news. It was a lot of fun and I felt loved and appreciated…but of course there can be a dark side to birthdays.

For one thing, I was dreading seeing my age change on all the dating sites and apps. I already feel that I – and all women – face age discrimination on these sites. This is evident not just from receiving fewer messages from men as I get older but also from reading profiles.

Many men on dating sites say they don’t want to meet women their own age. Think 5 to 10 years younger and perhaps 20. A matchmaker I consulted (but didn’t hire due to cost) felt that I might do better offline where guys wouldn’t judge me based on a number. But I don’t seem to meet eligible men in real life so online I stay.

So far I have resisted lying about my age online even though I have seen many cases of men fudging their age. For the most part, pictures don’t lie (if they’re current) so the gig is up as soon as I meet someone and see that “no, he’s not 62, he looks like 75.”

What do you think of when you use the word young to describe an “older” person? To me, being youthful is more than just about appearance. Of course that is a factor and one that is fueled by a healthy lifestyle (not to mention clothing). But energy, attitude, and personality are key.

Is this person open to new experiences – individually and with his or her social network? Is she interested in learning and growing? Is he open to new ideas? Does she embrace life and follow one or more passions? All of these things make someone young.

Another indicator of youth: a purpose-driven life. Having a sense of purpose is important at all ages but can be lifesaving as you age. Research has shown that older adults with a sense of purpose are less likely to develop certain diseases and have a greater chance of living longer. For me, this blog provides a sense of purpose and I encourage anyone with an interest in writing to start one.

If I think about the positive aspects of birthdays, I recognize that they provide a chance to review any life lessons learned. Sometimes there’s regret that you didn’t learn those lessons earlier! But when you’re an experiential learner like me, there’s no substitute for learning through trial and error. And that takes time, which equals aging.

One life lesson learned: seize whatever positive opportunity presents itself no matter what your plans are. Presented with an unexpected chance to be with your children? Yes, go for it and let the blog post wait another day. Received a late in the day invitation from a match? Put on fresh makeup and pay those bills later. You get the idea.

So on your next birthday, remind yourself that yes, you may be older, you may have another wrinkle or two but you also may have a better sense of what’s important in life and an appreciation for what makes you happy.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.





Hello/Goodbye: The Art of Beginning and Ending a First Date

blox pix handshake

Have you ever thought about the hello/goodbye aspect of first dates? Second, third, and beyond dates are less problematic. As you work toward coupledom, you hopefully become more at ease with each other…and, at the least, you have a better sense of what feels right in terms of greetings and farewells.

Let’s review this important aspect of dating territory while we have a lovely green goddess crunch sandwich.

Greetings on my first dates have ranged from handshakes to hugs to the man standing up and pulling out my bar stool to cheek kisses to full-on mouth kisses. On the very first date I had while separated, I walked to meet Mr. H at an outdoor café. He lightly put his arms on my shoulders and planted a real kiss…I was surprised to say the least and since it was my first kiss of post-separation dating, felt strange. But then I was a newbie.

Much, much later I was to meet a first date at a small and charming indoor “mall” filled with antique stores and eclectic shops. We arrived at the same time and met in the parking lot. It was clear that we were attracted to each other. He smiled and said, “shall we get the kiss out of the way?” or something to that effect. I was at a loss for words but nodded yes, and then he kissed me…and kissed me well so that we had a rather long greeting.

“Well, we know we’ve got chemistry,” he said, and we walked into the mall where he managed to steal kisses in the nooks and crannies of stores, an empty event hall, etc.

But an initial greeting kiss tends to not be the norm. More likely, a guy will go in for the handshake. If my reflexes are on target, I’ll try to head him off at the non-pass and give him a friendly light hug instead. I look at a handshake as a greeting better suited for a work setting – or any non-dating situation.

What’s worse in my book is a handshake at the end of the date. Unless I’m repulsed by someone (it has happened) or I’m aware that the guy is not interested, I find a light goodbye hug is a better alternative.

If there’s chemistry, that’s a whole other story. Proviso: Chemistry does not necessarily equal a make-out session. I have encountered my fair share of shy guys. Sometimes I’ll make the first move, which could be a real (not light) hug or a kiss.

I make my choice based on my assessment of the mutual chemistry and how much I want to kiss or hug the guy. In one case, after a lengthy goodbye chat next to my car in a cold parking garage, I said to my date “Well, are you going to kiss me?” He was a bit shaken by my comment (I found out later he had Asperger’s syndrome) and managed to fumble a kiss (note: his technique improved on date #2).

At the other extreme, I have offered to drive a guy to his car in another part of the parking lot just so we could have a teenage make out session. Oy! At these times, I regret my small car’s bucket seats and lack of interior space.

For those dating newbies out there wondering about the greeting aspect of the date, just go with your gut. If you’re uncertain about converting a hello handshake to a light hug, don’t stress. Just accept the handshake. You’ll have more knowledge and another chance to express your feelings at the end of the date.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.




An Imagined Meeting of Online Daters Anonymous

blox pix support

“I really don’t want to go,” I said to my friend Bonnie.

“You’ve got to go,” she said. “You need support from other online daters. I can listen to you and advise you up the wazoo but I’m not dating anymore.” (I swear she quietly muttered Thank God.) “I think it would help you to share your experiences with other people who are going through the same stuff.”

“Okay,” I sighed. Since Bonnie, a long-time friend and fellow retiree, had remarried 6 months ago, she’d been trying to nudge me into attending this support group. I knew she was right. The stress of online dating was warping my perspective on romance—at least that’s what I told my jaded self.

Two days later I found myself in a small meeting room at the local library. Enjoy some oven steamed mussels while I share what happened.

There were six women and four men of various ages and ethnicities already sitting in a circle in the simple but functional room. It was 7 pm and some of my fellow daters looked liked they had come straight from work.

“Welcome,” said a striking blond woman who motioned me to an empty chair. “We’re just about to do introductions. I’m Janet. I’m a social worker. I started this meet-up group in hopes of creating an ongoing system of support for those who are starting over after divorce and struggling with online dating. I’ve been divorced 4 years and started dating 3 years ago.”

Janet went on to explain that she wanted each meeting to focus on a particular question related to dating. Every person was to answer the question, followed by an open discussion. The question for this first meeting was “what have you learned about the process of online dating?” Janet asked us to go around the room, say our name and a few basic facts and then try to answer the question.

The first person to speak was Rob, a 50-something man who said he’d been divorced 5 years. “I’ve learned that women who are online don’t seem to want to meet. They’re stuck emailing and they keep asking me questions. I feel like I’m being interrogated.”

There was general nodding of heads and smiling. “I feel that men are the same way,” said Irma, a 40ish woman. “But they don’t ask good questions. It’s ‘how’d you get so beautiful?’ and ‘how long have you been on this site?’ No one seems to read my profile. I could say I was a mass murderer and the men wouldn’t notice.”

“My problem is when we meet,” said Rachel, a woman who could have been anywhere from 55 to 65. “I’ve learned that no matter how well you connect on the phone or in email, it’s what happens in person that matters. I don’t get too excited in advance any more because most of the time, the guys look much worse and much older than their pictures.”

A 30ish man who introduced himself as Hank said, “I’ve learned that I don’t like online dating. I actually came here to see if I could meet women,” he said with a grin. “I don’t have time for the dating sites but I use Tinder and just started using Bumble because there’s less work. Sometimes I hook up with someone but I think a lot of the profiles are fake.”

Helen, a woman in her 70s (go Helen), laughed. “I almost don’t believe it when someone is not a fake. I’ve never had anyone ask me for money but stolen pictures are everywhere. They must think women are idiots. Google image search is my friend.”

Then Janet turned to me. “Nadia, what have you learned?” She asked.

I sipped my water and took a few seconds to gather my thoughts. After listening to the mostly negative comments, I realized I might be jaded but I still have hope. I explained that I had learned to expect the unexpected. To suffer through long dry spells followed by an out-of-the-blue increase in romantic possibilities…only to have them fall apart right away or over the course of a few weeks. Rinse and repeat. I told the group that, just as all types of problems have suddenly appeared in my life, I hold on to the hope that good things will also spontaneously occur. It just seems to be the way things work. The law of nothing is static.

Janet thanked me for my comment and we continued around the room. My attention drifted away as a text from a first date appeared on my phone. It looks like this latest dry spell might be over.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.







The Not Meyers-Briggs Dating Types

blog pix questionnaire

I’m not a Meyers-Briggs fan. It’s not that I think this personality test is meaningless but I don’t believe it’s religion. Those who characterize everything they do based on the results of one test annoy me. About 6 years ago, I was compelled to take MB as part of an office “retreat.” At the time, I was in a bad state due to my divorce and resented the questions on the test. I’m sure I “gamed” the results, in part because I didn’t like the idea of my boss reviewing them.

Recently I have noticed that a number of men’s online dating profiles tout their MB type. Some list their type in their profile name. I did a user name search on MATCH for INTJ and pulled up 84 hits. One of them even put his desired type in his profile:



  • 54 year old man
  • Wichita KS, USA
  • Seeking women 45-59 within 50 miles of Wichita, KS


Although I don’t like the rigidity of this focus on “types,” I decided to have a little fun with the MB. I’d like to propose an alternate personality descriptor specifically for male online daters. It’s based on my observations of the types I have scrolled through, interacted with, and dated.

Serve yourself a healthy portion of the ultimate caprese salad and see if you recognize any of these Not MB Types. The letters may be the same but the types are new. Some of the letters in the types described below do double duty- standing for different personality characteristics. Creative license.



Not Meeting



Although the INTJ type is online 24/7, he’s definitely a man of Inaction. He’ll view you, message you through a dating site, and might even text you. But you will Not Meet. He’ll promise you, Tempt you with possible dates but in the end he’s a Jerk with no interest in a real life connection.



Sexy compliment

Friend not


You have probably interacted with an ESFJ. His ego is exceptionally strong and his first message will demonstrate confidence, while letting you know he finds you sexy. He’s not interested in friends first and would love nothing better than to get your number so he can send you a photo of his junk.


Inadequate Dating Skills


Too early

Play the field

The ISTP man has rusty, inadequate dating skills because he’s newly separated. It’s too early for him to consider a relationship. He wants to play the field – as he should when he’s recently out of a marriage (after he gets his act together solo). The problem occurs when he promises you that he is ready for commitment. He will fail because he’s not ready after all. And your heart will be bruised.


Eyes for you only

No problems

Too good to be true


The ENTP guy comes on strong…almost too strong. He only has eyes for you. There don’t seem to be any problems with this guy. Your connection is almost too good to be true. In the end, he ghosts you and you feel that you’ve been played.

Do you recognize any of these non-MB dating types? Have you encountered other types? Let me know!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.