Dating Newbies: Top 10 Questions

83D7247C-B145-4FEA-B436-8B1FC348A8C5

“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

Vetting and Evaluating an Online Match before and after you Meet

blox pix nov 12 2017

The next time you’re shopping in the online man store and maybe trying one on for size, you may have questions beyond whether the guy’s a good fit. Is he who he says he is? Is he a player? Is he losing interest or just not that into you? Is he a keeper? There are things you can do and signs to watch for to help you navigate the dating journey.

Help yourself to some pasta with olive oil, garlic, and parsley while I share my top 10 tips to vet or evaluate a man:

*Do a basic photo check. On a PC or laptop: save the guy’s profile photos and then do a Google image or Tineye search. On a phone: screen shot the photos (as many as possible) and then use an image search app such as Veracity or do a Google image search similar to the way you would do it on a computer. For detailed instructions, see: how to perform a reverse image search.

If the guy doesn’t have a photo, move on. There’s a reason he doesn’t have one.

*Be wary of perfect photos. If the photos remind you of a cover model on GQ, don’t even waste your time searching. These pix are likely “borrowed” from a website or Facebook profile.

*Search the guy’s phone number. Do a Google search or type the number into the search box on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve had great success with the Facebook/LinkedIn number search – even if the guy’s number is “hidden.”

An important aside: You should only give a guy your real cell number, if you’re convinced he’s legit and not a risk. Otherwise, get a Google voice number (free as opposed to a burner number). I usually wait to meet someone before sharing my primary cell number.

*Search the guy’s email address. Try the same search tactics recommended for phone numbers. All sorts of things will turn up. I’ve pulled up a guy’s TripAdvisor reviews, Amazon reviews, listing in a society membership directory, and his profile on a sex site.

*Know the signs of a catfisher. He is often widowed* (e.g., a tragic car accident killed his wife and child), an engineer in the oil or energy industry, works for the UN in some capacity, indicates English is his second language so as not to throw you off should you actually talk on the phone.

*Of course not all widows are catfishers but it appears to be the marital status of choice for those fabricating a profile.

If the guy doesn’t have a profile, move on. There’s a reason he doesn’t have a profile.

*Know the behavior red flags. His dating site messages or texts are sporadic; he answers questions you ask but doesn’t ask anything – or very little – about you; he views you frequently or favorites you but doesn’t communicate; he’s always – and I mean always – online; he doesn’t advance the e-mail conversation and doesn’t suggest talking on the phone or meeting.

*Be aware of a sudden shift in communication patterns. If you have been on a date or two or three and suddenly his good morning texts have stopped, it may not be long before he ghosts you or tells/texts you that it’s just not working out. One guy suddenly stopped his daily texting and then called to tell me that I wasn’t a good match because I lived so far away that he had to use a “pricey” EasyPass. Insert laugh/cry emoji.

*Observe negative behaviors on a date. He monopolizes the conversation, looks at every woman who walks into the bar/café/coffee shop, glances at his phone constantly, all of the above.

*Observe and enjoy positive behaviors on a date. He seems genuinely interested in you, listens to what you say and responds, maintains good eye contact, his body language says he likes you (hand or arm touching, feet pointed toward you), notes that he doesn’t want the date to end/mentions seeing you again.

*Observe and enjoy positive signs that the relationship is advancing. He frequently calls/texts you just to check in or to plan your next get together, he shares more about himself, he mentions doing things in the future, you inevitably spend weekends together, you start to meet each other’s friends.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

Fairytale Lessons for the Dating Life

blog-post-fairy-tales

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

Dating Roundup: Safety, Security, and Truth in Advertising

blog post woman on phone

It’s time to revisit safety, security, and fabricated profiles in online dating. It’s an ever-present topic for me as I sift through profiles and interact with matches. When I started online dating, I spent a lot more time vetting matches. I still vet them but I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the scammers so I often don’t need to go through all of the investigative hoops such as doing Google image searches. Along the way, I found some shortcuts and tips.

Pass the salmon burgers with sweet pickle relish while I discuss the issue and the shortcuts. Warning: parts of today’s chat get a bit geeky.

Coffee Meets Bagel recently sent me a good reminder about online safety with a list of common scammer behaviors and profile characteristics:

-Profession in the military or engineering, works out of the country

-Recently widowed with children

-Overly complimentary with flowery, romantic language right off the bat

-Poor English and grammar, but high level of education (Master’s, Ph.D., etc.)

-Quick to get you off the app and into email/some other messaging app, but not text (they don’t have a working cell phone).

I disagree about the texting. I find scammers will sometimes text but rarely will they speak on the phone to you.

One of my go-to security checks is the Google image search mentioned above. This tool searches the web for photos that match the one you’re checking out. So, for example, you can see if a person in another geographic location has the same photo. Sometimes you will find that the photo is of a celebrity in another country.

I’m often using dating apps on my phone or tablet rather than my laptop. I wondered if there is a way to do an image search on these devices.

Mobile Image Search Tools

Of course, consult Google whenever you have a question. Not only are there reverse image apps, but there are a couple of other tricks. A PC Magazine article about image searching from a cell phone identified one strategy: using CTRLQ, a so-called Google Image search “wrapper.” Created by Amit Agarwal, this website tool can be used to search images on mobile devices.

To search an image from a dating app, you must first save it.

How do you save those Tinder and other app profile pictures? Take a screenshot of the image. On an iPhone or iPad, simultaneously press and hold the sleep/wake button on the top or side of your device while also pressing and holding the home button. You’ll hear the click of the camera. Your saved image will be in the camera roll. You can then select that image when using an image search app (see below), CTRLQ, or the desktop version of Google (another way to do an image search on your phone). Try it; it’s an easy process.

If you have an Android phone, you can use a similar technique to save images. Digital Trends reviewed screen shot techniques for a variety of Android devices.

Image Search Phone Apps

If you have an iPhone, type “image search” in Apps and you’ll encounter a number of tools. I downloaded Veracity and found it to be seamless. I’m not aware of any Android image search apps but CTRLQ should work on these mobile devices.

Non-Geek Tips

Safety is not always the issue with false profiles. Sometimes it’s a matter of misrepresentation. For example, how many men have you dated who have obviously lied about age and height?

One possible clue that a man has lied about his age: he is willing to date women 5 + years older. An older age preference doesn’t necessarily mean a man is 5 years older than he says, but look at his picture and see if that could be the case.

Age fabrication may not bother you. However, some of my friends say, “Well, what else is he lying about?” I tend to be forgiving if there is only a couple of years difference…but a bigger lie is more troubling and a likely deal breaker.

Another quick way to check out a new match is to search his screen name. You may find his alias on other dating, sex, and general sites. You can learn a lot from this easy sleuthing.

An Almost Meet Cute

Enough about online issues! I’m still working on meeting men in real life.

I had a brief almost meet cute Friday night. Walking up a long subway escalator after a night of jazz at Westminster Church, a man was about to pass me on the left. “Wanna race?” he asked. I quickly looked at him (age appropriate, too short but nice face), smiled, and went into high gear escalator racing. He laughed and said, “I didn’t think you would.” “I’m very competitive,” I said as I gave him a run for his money (placing first in the Olympic sport of escalator racing). Several children trailed Mr. Racer. Grandkids? His kids? You never know. And I was with friends, so the exchange ended there.

Just another almost meet cute in DC. I’ve got a million of them…. some day, one has got to fully develop.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia