Baggage

baggage blog post

Have you noticed how many dating profiles mention baggage? Let’s explore this topic while enjoying quinoa salad with swiss chard and goat cheese.

When I first read the term baggage in a profile – usually in the context of “please don’t have any,” I thought of it as a mix of experience and memories. I wondered how a person could get through life without either one of these. Then I realized that these guys are referring to emotional baggage, defined by Merriam Webster as “intangible things (as feeling, circumstances, or beliefs) that get in the way.”

Urban Dictionary’s top definition of emotional baggage is “painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.” This personality characteristic is also, according to Urban Dictionary, an “excuse commonly used by Peter Pans and other immature men to avoid commitment yet maintain a sexual relationship….as in I don’t think I can handle a real relationship right now. I need some time to get over my emotional baggage.”

I’d like to propose a broader definition of emotional baggage so that it encompasses any life experience that hinders you from moving forward to enjoy life and love.

In my post-divorce dating years, I have encountered widowers who can’t move on enough to be in a relationship, bitter divorced men stuck in an anger cycle, as well as men who have had serious or difficult medical issues and a subsequent loss of self esteem that they can’t overcome.

And there’s no gender rule here — women can experience the same inability to move forward. Just like men, women may get stuck in a post-divorce cycle of anger and low self-esteem. They’re unhappy and unable to move forward from the “baggage” of their failed relationship.

Then there are other people – men and women – who have had serious issues such as the death of a child, yet somehow, are able to carry on with an open albeit grieving heart.

I accept that in my age range, men may not have “baggage” per se but they, like me will likely have some blips on their heart’s EKG. Fortunately the heart can survive a lot and with modern technological advances, recovery is possible.

I like to think my baggage is carry-on – easily stowed under my seat. With occasional turbulence, it might roll out…but I just stuff it back.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Diary: A Week without Dating Apps

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Monday morning:

I deleted all of my dating apps and hid my profile on the dating sites I belong to. Feeling both free in a good way and strangely untethered in a bad way. To motivate myself, I made a schedule of activities for the week. The hope is that I will get out of the house more and possibly meet men in real life. Oh foolish heart.

While working on this blog’s social media pages, I experience what can only be described as online dating withdrawal.

I have various random thoughts and questions such as, “If there were no apps, would I ever have any dates?”

Wednesday morning:

I woke up from a strange dream in which I meet an attractive older man in a friend’s group house. The setting seems to be a mishmash of my early college and current days. I’m unsure about the meaning of the dream but I think it must have something to do with worry about a lack of romantic possibilities.

Yesterday I tweeted an article from Bustle about a young woman who has been app-less for a year. She recounted the things she missed about online and app dating. After two days, I could relate to all of them except the one where she longed for the ability to immediately ask out and meet a guy she matched with on a dating app.

Although some of my online encounters rapidly progressed from messaging to an in- person meeting, the man initiated them. Sometimes I gently pushed a guy toward a meeting, but I haven’t opened with, Hey you want to meet for a drink? Perhaps I should. Just to see what happens. My guess is that given her younger age, the writer of this piece has done better than I would if I went offline for a year.  She likely has a bigger “single” social circle and more professional connections compared to a single, retired woman of a certain age. But I’m just speculating.

With no apps or sites to check, no emails to write or respond to, I have more time for other things. I’m reading more and per usual I tend to read fiction about relationships and romance (not romance novels per se – though I enjoy them too). I discovered Laurie Colwin, a delightful writer who sadly died much too young. I devoured Happy All the Time and now I’m thoroughly enjoying Goodbye without Leaving. Of course, reading doesn’t get me out in the world…so perhaps I’ll finish the book at a café or coffee shop.

I realize that a week without online dating is not enough to fully plan activities where I might meet someone organically. I signed up for an archery Meet-up that’s getting together Saturday but it looks like the members are in their 20s and 30s. It won’t lead to any romantic possibilities but that’s okay.

Wednesday evening:

I felt better this afternoon…but evening brings on feelings of loneliness. Where are the phone pings that someone winked at me or sent me a message?

Thursday morning:

Another weird dream night – nothing about men per se and now I can’t even remember the story…but obviously an app-less week is affecting my subconscious.

I receive an email from Hinge that someone likes me and his picture is not bad. I wonder if I should go back on Hinge briefly to check the guy’s profile and possibly respond to him. I ponder whether that would be cheating on my app-less week. Then I notice Hinge sent the email at 2 am. A late or middle of the night “like” is often a signal that the man lives in another time zone, possibly in another country. So I decide to “hold” for the moment and not break this online dating fast.

I receive another like from someone on OurTime. Notifications from this dating site don’t include photos of those who like or message you so I’m not tempted to go online. Holding fast to my fast.

I hope to make it to an art museum tour this afternoon. I’ve heard this can be a good way to meet people. At the least, I will increase my knowledge about art and get out of the house.

Friday morning:

I missed the tour so I ended up wandering around Georgetown and the waterfront. It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was good for my soul. I didn’t meet anyone but enjoyed the afternoon.

I confess that late last night, I semi-cheated (briefly) on my dating fast with a quick Tinder check related to a previous match with an attractive man. Although he lives 160 miles away, this guy visits his adult son who lives not too far from me.

The man said he would reach out next time he comes into town. Since it’s a holiday week, I thought I should reinstall Tinder just to see whether he had contacted me through the app. You guessed it (possibly): There was no message because he had unmatched me. After a couple of accidental super-likes, I delete the app again.

Saturday morning:

After seeing that the archery Meet-up is now filled with 7-to-10 year olds on spring break, I decide to cancel and go another time.

I’m looking forward to the end of this fast. I plan to go back online tomorrow rather than Monday as originally planned…still it’s a full 6 days without online dating.

You may be wondering about my rationale for breaking the fast one day short of a week. Sundays are typically the best days for connecting on the dating sites and holiday weekends also have more activity. Holidays bring out the urge to connect. A lot of people feel nostalgia for past celebrations and yearn to once again be part of a family or relationship “unit.”

Perhaps the lesson from my app-less week is that it’s okay to get back on the sites and apps since despite their problems, they give me hope. The key is to supplement the online world with real life activities and to check the apps less frequently.

Two years ago (I cringe as I think of how long I’ve been doing this), I tried to limit my online dating check-in frequency without much long-term success. I’m convinced that this April’s dating app “fast” is a better transition to healthier online dating behavior – similar to the way a food fast retrains your appetite so you are more satisfied with fewer calories.

At the same time, I plan on binging tomorrow.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Top 10 Dating Obstacles

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If you follow Olympics-related news, you likely read that obstacle course racing may become an Olympic sport.

Coincidentally – and despite having some romance possibilities — I have recently been thinking about dating obstacles.

Let’s ponder this issue while indulging in a lunch fit for an athlete or dater in training.

To appreciate the variety of dating obstacles, it’s worth a quick review of obstacle course racing (OCR).

According to Wikipedia, OCR is “a sport in which a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges that are in the form of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and the races are designed to result in mental and physical collapse.”

Note the reference to mental and physical collapse, which I bolded. I find this is a good analogy for the mental burnout that can result from the trials of modern dating.

Listed below, for your reading pleasure, sympathy, and empathy are the top 10 online and app dating obstacles:

*Finding someone you like and are attracted to

To do so, you must wade through a series of profiles with awful photos, poor to nonexistent writing skills, and such descriptors as “married” and “God-fearing.”

*Finding someone who also likes you

Hopefully your retooled, now excellent profile and carefully chosen photos serve you well.

*Connecting

Perhaps you view Mr. Z’s profile. Mr. Z then views your profile and photos. Does he write to you? Do you write to him? If neither one of you reaches out – even if someone has “favorited” or “winked” at the other person, call it a lost cause.

*Moving beyond the emails and texts

If you start corresponding with someone, will you get beyond this form of communication? Will you speak on the phone or arrange to meet? Or, will he or you just stop writing?

*Having a phone call

If you end up having a phone conversation, will it be good and balanced or will one of you indulge in a monologue?

*Moving beyond the phone call

Assuming you have a phone conversation, does he initiate an in-person meeting? Do you want to meet him or did he say something that turned you off?

*Scheduling

If an in-person meeting/date is proposed, can you find a day and time to meet? Does he live an hour away? Can you both find a convenient time and location?

*Follow-through and waiting

Perhaps you have a tentative date scheduled but lately he’s been online quite a bit and you start to wonder if the date will be finalized. You worry that he’s window-shopping for his best option (as he sees it).

Do you hang in, keep busy, and keep looking (the old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” cliché)? This is a particularly challenging obstacle. With any luck, your date will be confirmed and finalized.

*In-person meeting

If you are finally on an in-person meeting/date, is there chemistry and connection? Does he look like his photos? Do you? Is there give and take during the conversation? Flirting? Real listening?

What’s his body language like? Does he dive into inappropriate topics such as the terms of his divorce, previous relationships, or recent surgeries?

Do you want to kiss him? Is he a decent kisser?

*Second date

Was there enough good in the first date to consider a second one? Does he text you after date #1? When/if will he ask you out? Will you go out with him again?

If everything fizzles at this point, and there is no second date, sit down and rest. You may be exhausted from running and leaping over obstacles. But don’t give up. Keep at it.

Eventually (and it might be a long eventually), you’ll ace this almost Olympic event and go on that second, third, fourth, and fifth date….

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Resolutions

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No, I’m not confusing my holidays. My resolutions ARE for Valentine’s Day, in hopes that I will have a Valentine or at least a promising Valentine’s Day date in another month. This doesn’t give me much time for implementing my resolutions and certainly no time to cook – so let’s lunch on this quick pasta dish.

There are people who say that vocalizing your intentions and believing they will come true ensures they will become reality. So, I’m going out on a limb – possibly a whim – to say the following actions will bring me what I’m visualizing (6’4” of the sweetest man possible).

I hope you will come up with your own Valentine’s Day Resolutions. Feel free to take mine and modify them to suit you as needed.

Some of these resolutions are based on altering my everyday schedule. As someone who doesn’t work in an office anymore, I often take advantage of my flexibility and do things during off-peak hours. The problem with this strategy is that I’m less likely to encounter single men who might still be on a traditional work schedule. I do my grocery shopping on a weekday morning, go to the gym mid-morning or mid-afternoon, swim at lunchtime, write in my pleasant home office, etc.

Here’s how I plan to change things up a bit:

*Pick up a couple of grocery items in the evening. I will still do my “big shopping” during the week but this special and quick trip allows me to strike a compromise between my relaxed schedule and the time when working/teleworking single men might be shopping.

*Go to different grocery stores for these quick trips, particularly those that have “social” reputations.

*Go to wine stores in the evening, particularly when they are offering a free tasting.

*Go to the gym one evening a week. Since I belong to a gym with many branches throughout the area, I can also try different locations.

*Have dinner at a bar one night a week. See my post on meeting men in bars.

*Attend three events sponsored by a single meet-up in an effort to have repeated exposure.

*Once a week, write in a coffee shop.

*Once a week, run a random errand in the evening. Possibilities: A hardware store, a bookstore, a car wash.

*Take a new class. I’m considering a free introduction to improv class.

*Make a schedule of these resolutions. If I have a set schedule, I’m more likely to follow through on these actions.

Whatever your circumstance – retired, teleworking, flexible schedule – ask yourself how you can change your activities and your schedule to expand your circle of daily encounters. The goal: Meet new people in new venues. And try to lose the resting bitch face while you’re out and about.

Tell me about your Valentine’s Day resolutions!

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

What Happens at the Monthly Meeting of the Dating Bots?

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THE CLOUD, SOMEWHERE IN CYBERSPACE OVER ROMANCE, AR –

“Good morning fellow dating bots. TGIF. I’ve got a busy day at OurTime so I’m going to quickly move to roll call for our monthly meeting.

“POFbot?”

“Here.”

“Matchbot?”

“Yeah.”

“Tinderbot?”

“Hey!”

“Bumblebot?”

“Hi OurTime. #You’re cute.”

“OkCupidbot?”

“Yo OT.”

“JSwipebot?”

“Gut margn!”

“CoffeeMeetsBagelbot?”

“Greetings – I brought you a cappuccino.”

“Thanks CMB. Hingebot?”

“How’s it going?”

“Thanks all. I’ll make sure everyone’s recorded in the minutes. Today’s first item of business is Nadia Alegria Amore.

“She’s been on one or all of our sites for several years now and despite four 90-day relationships, she hasn’t had much luck. She’s picky but then I can’t fault her for rejecting weirdos, losers, and creeps. The good ones she likes can’t seem to stop window-shopping or they’re after a younger woman.

“I know her membership fees are paying for our baby bots’ future college education, but I think we should help her out and send her the one.

“You know, it’s in our power to override the algorithm and play old fashioned matchmaker.”

“Is she really trying that hard?” asked OkCupidbot.

“You’re biased,” said POFbot, “you know she just dropped the OKC site because of scammer overload. Cut her some slack.”

“Speaking of scammers. I’d like to hold off on sending her the one until she’s evaluated one of our questionable clients,” said Tinderbot. “She’s one of the best at outing scammers and there’s someone I’d like her to investigate.”

“I don’t think that’s fair. She has to be getting discouraged. We’ve sent her the ‘we cannot find users near you’ message 100 times,” said Hingebot, “but she is older than most of our users.”

“Good point. She’s one of the best at avoiding burnout but she was near tears last night when one of our OurTime clients asked about her weekend plans but then didn’t respond to her answer. She questioned what she wrote him but I think her response was fine. She said she had some weekend plans but could make time to meet him — and she said it in a flirty way.”

“ I agree with you, OurTimebot. I think we should send her the one. I have a strong contender,” said POFbot.

“Great. Who do you have?”

“It someone she’s been communicating with on and off for a couple of months. The “block” as he says is that they live 400 miles apart…but definitely within an easily arranged train ride. They’re attracted to each other – as much as you can be from a picture – and he just asked for her phone number. At that point, she ran his photos through Google image search and everything seemed kosher.”

“Let’s do it,” said Bumblebot. “You know, I’m a romantic.”

“I’m undecided,” said Matchbot. “She just paid to attend a dating webinar and I want to see if it helps her game.”

“I’m for giving her the one. He’s Jewish and likes that she’s Jewish. It might encourage her to be slightly observant,” said JSwipebot.

“Okay everyone. Let’s bring this to a formal vote. All those in favor of giving Nadia the one, in this case, one from POF, raise your hand.

“Looks like it’s almost unani….wait Matchbot is bowing to the pressure. It’s unanimous. Nadia gets the one.

“POFbot, since you have the only contender, work your magic. We’re going to take a break in January, so report back at our Valentine’s Day meeting.

“Have a good weekend everyone.”

Until next week, happy dating or not dating and happy cooking this recipe for seared tofu with miso sauce.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

My Holiday Letter

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Ahh…. the holidays: an often-dreaded time for singletons. One of the offending hallmarks (no pun intended) of the season is, of course, the holiday letter. When a single person receives a family holiday letter, it can serve as a reminder of her or his not-intact family. A recent Washington Post Solo-ish article titled I love your family but I dread your joyous holiday letters captures the emotions a divorced or widowed person might feel upon reading this well meaning but accidentally hurtful correspondence.

Turnabout is fair play. So, enjoy my singles version of a holiday letter while slurping Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup (recipe below).

Play some appropriately themed music while you’re cooking.

Note that, unlike other “family” letters, you don’t have to read about the exploits of multiple related people.

December 2016

Dear Friends,

I hope this holiday season finds you well and that you and your loved ones are sheltering in place – and by the fire – after the storm of the election. We need all the love we can get during this time of national emotional upheaval.

It’s been a wild ride for me this past year as well. Oh, no, I don’t mean that literally I’ve found a wild ride…though I have been searching for one.

Let me share with you some of the highlights from 2016:

  1. Four hundred first dates! Yes, in fact, I may have reached that milestone after four years of divorce. But who’s counting?
  2. A banner year for bad breath! Why is it that so many men fail in the oral hygiene department? This year I learned to stock 10 varieties of mints and gum in my purse and car – just in case I encounter a case of Mr. Frisky with Halitosis.
  3. Athletic accomplishments: No swim team for me…but I did overcome my fear of deep water. Now I can hang out at the community pool after my laps and try to meet men.
  4. Dance competitions: Even better than a middle school dance competition, I completed a basic introductory hip-hop class without requiring orthopedic surgery or acupuncture. Then there was the tango class I took with a short, heavily accented instructor. I couldn’t hear him over the loud music so I invented my personal version of the tango, which looks more like a bull stamping its foot before charging.
  5. Academic achievements: There are no grades or tests for adult education classes at community college so I can’t humble brag about being on the Dean’s List. On the positive side, my Spanish and writing classes revealed the added benefit of making new friends and possibly meeting men. A win-win amigos.
  6. Travel highlights: Spain and Ireland. For the single woman, Spain wins. See: Tinder in España.
  7. Something new, something borrowed, something blue. No wedding for me, fellow partygoers. As a single woman, new refers to new dating photos and a revised profile. I borrowed my daughter’s jeans to wear on a date and the blue for this non-bride refers to Miles’ classic Kind of Blue album, great music for contemplating your single life.
  8. Local field trips: I expanded my repertoire of solo outings, enjoying “just me” excursions to happy hours, museums, and concerts.
  9. Breaking down barriers: I ignored any perceived age and race barriers and went out with men of various ethnicities from age 50 to 69.
  10. Benefits of non-Mindfulness: I learned to relax into the cycle of the dating life and look to the future: Dry spells are followed by false bounty but eventually you date a guy – though he might have bad breath (see #2).
  11. Plans for 2017: I bought 3 red dresses in 2016 so I’m starting my Valentine’s Day dating search now!

 

2016 Bonus: Nadia’s Cod, Coconut Milk, and Cilantro Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds cod

Olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced leeks (white parts only).

1 large red pepper, chopped

2 fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped (optional)

2 cans light coconut milk

1-cup vegetable broth

1-pound package frozen yellow corn

½ cup minced cilantro

¼ cup fresh lime juice

Cilantro and fresh sliced avocado for garnish

Heat olive oil in large pasta or soup pot. Add leeks and and sauté until translucent. Add chopped red pepper and continue sautéing a couple more minutes. Add tomato if using. Cut cod into 2” pieces (not too small because they will break up anyway) and add to mixture. Sautee a couple of minutes and then add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Cook 5 minutes and then add corn. Cook on medium (low bubbling of mixture) for another 8 minutes.  Check cod to make sure it’s cooked through (opaque not translucent). Add salt to taste. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Heat for another minute.

Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish soup with sliced avocado and minced cilantro.

Note: If you don’t have leeks, you can substitute Vidalia onions (1/2 to 1 large chopped onion depending on your preference).  Quantity of leeks or onions, peppers, and tomatoes  can be varied depending on your preference and any food allergies.

Frozen defrosted cod works well in this recipe. You can even use partially defrosted cod. Just make sure you thoroughly cook it in the broth/coconut milk mixture.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating…and happy cooking!

XXXOOO

Nadia

Fairytale Lessons for the Dating Life

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Hopeful romantics often daydream about a fairytale ending to their dating story: marrying that prince who finally found you – the woman who lost one Ugg boot in the mall or being awakened with a great kiss from that other prince whose lip mastery breaks the unfortunate spell of the bad kissers.

Aside from the happy endings, are there lessons from fairytales and fables that apply to the beginning, middle, and endings (not always happy) of dating and relationship stories?

Let’s ponder this while enjoying a light arugula salad in expectation of overindulging at Thanksgiving.

Little Red Riding Hood: You might think the dating moral of this story is – don’t ever talk to or interact with strangers. Not a realistic goal for someone trying to meet their “one.”

Consider this updated moral for dating purposes: be smart when encountering strangers: pay attention to visual or other signs that you might be interacting with a scammer. Rely liberally on Google image search or veracity, an image search app for your cell phone. Use all available security tactics.

The Fisher and the Little Fish: A small gain is more valuable than a large promise. Another way to say this: be satisfied with what you have.

This is a perfect tale for the online dater who meets someone he or she really likes but can’t stop window-shopping for a possibly hotter/better/thinner, etc. match. I’m not talking about early in a relationship when it’s prudent to keep your options open. The moral applies when someone in an exclusive relationship that is working goes online to see if there’s someone “better” out there. 

The Two Goats: It is better to compromise than to come to misfortune through stubbornness. This is a perfect fable for relationships and no updating of the moral is needed

The Little Mermaid: Try new things and activities outside of your comfort zone. Getting outside of your comfort zone may be needed when you are creating a new life after a divorce or the death of a spouse. You’ll find yourself in new social situations and trying new activities or hobbies. Regardless of whether your goal is to meet people or to enhance your creative life and sense of accomplishment, sometimes you may need to take a leap even if it’s scary.

Brave: Be brave. See The Little Mermaid. Bravery, of course, is a close cousin of stepping outside of your comfort zone. 

The Salt Peddler and the Donkey: Two can play the same game.

Let’s say you like a guy but he’s an erratic communicator with long gaps between texts or calls, invitations on short notice, and an occasional date cancellation. You could certainly ghost him – and be justified – but sometimes, guys need a dose of their own medicine.

This “revenge” scenario calls for you to be strong and have a few other male possibilities keeping you busy.  If Mr. Poor Communicator texts you after a week’s silence, don’t reply for a week. If he cancels on you, reschedule and cancel on him. You get my drift. This may seem petty, not worth your time, etc. True. And, although, you’d rather Mr. PC be a better communicator and boyfriend, this tactic may be surprisingly satisfying.

The Mice in Council: Many things are easier said than done. Finding the one – or one of the ones – certainly seems to fall into this category. 

The Three Wishes: Think carefully about what you really want in life and plan ahead. Make a list of must have qualities in a partner and check your profile to make sure you reflect (or have) those qualities. Evaluate each new man you go out with and ask whether he possesses those qualities. If not, move on.

The Hare and the Tortoise: Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t give up! It may take awhile but keep on working the dating life. Take breaks as needed, try new sites, discontinue sites that aren’t working, and try new activities to meet men in real life.

Oh, and you don’t have to be a princess to have a happy ending.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating. And Happy Thanksgiving!

XXXOOO

Nadia