Newbies Times Two

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Last weekend I had a double newbie experience. In one case, I was reminded of when I was a newbie. In the second experience, I had a drink with a new old newbie. Confused? I’ll explain while we enjoy some grilled tofu and heirloom tomato salad. This pairs nicely with watermelon mimosas.

Newbie #1 (me)

It was a normal online morning. I was deleting catfishers and young would-be studs four decades younger than me. I logged onto Match, the first dating site I joined a year after my separation. At the time, I thought Match worked fairly well for me – presenting me with daily reasonable partner selections and I heard from a number of them.

Back to present day: someone from those early Match days, Mr. H,  “viewed” me. In fact, this man was my first date in almost 40 years.

Back to the past. I remember flirting online with Mr. H, a tall, athletic divorced man with a solid profile that revealed a romantic and a philosophical side. I pushed the flirt envelope to advance the concept of meeting. He knew I was separated and wanted to be sure I was ready to enter fully into a relationship. I remember thinking he didn’t want to risk getting involved with someone who wasn’t over their ex. “I’m definitely ready for the next chapter,” I wrote. Mr. H lived about an hour away so we decided to meet halfway between our houses at an outdoor restaurant next to a lake. It was summertime.

What a flurry of nerves getting ready for that date! With my daughter advising me on wardrobe, I tried on several outfits – finally settling for a blue jean skirt, heels, and a trendy, sexy but tasteful blouse. Ladies, you can imagine my butterflies.

On the drive to the restaurant, I tried to relax and enjoy the music on the radio.

I arrived on time and walking toward the outdoor tables, I saw him. He looked exactly like his pictures – only better. I felt fluttery with nerves and anticipation. He walked toward me. Surprise — he kissed me hello. Remember, this was date #1 post separation. It was all so strange.

We made our way to a table and began a comfortable conversation. Mr. H had interesting and unusual experiences to share. I don’t remember thinking he was a conversational narcissist but I believe he talked more than me. Given my nerves, that was probably a good thing. Dating rating: A. As he walked to me car, he gave me a hug and said, “Let’s do this again.” I can’t remember what I said given my still nervous state but it was probably something like, “Sure, give me a call.” Today, assuming I liked the guy, I would be more direct.

I think I wrote Mr. H that I enjoyed our lunch. Even if he responded (sorry, dear readers, my memory fails here), we never went out again. In time, I totally forgot about him. Until last week. When I realized Mr. H had viewed me, I felt compelled to write to him. I briefly wondered whether I should see if he would write first. But then I remembered my “newbieness.” I felt I should acknowledge how awkward I must have been on our date. My goal was to say, “hey, I’m not a newbie anymore,” so that he would want to see me again. So, I sent Mr. H a short message: 

Hi,

I had to say hello. I believe we had a lunch date 6 or 7 years ago. Yes, I have a photographic memory 🙂 

I was such a newbie! I’m sure you recognized that (if you remember me). I think our “meeting” was my first date while separated – so of course I remember you.  

I’m sure you would agree that this whole divorce experience is quite a journey – and an opportunity for growth! 

I hope life is good.

Cheers,

Nadia

A week has gone by and he hasn’t responded.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have written to him. Perhaps he didn’t feel a connection when we met because I was a nervous mess. As I’ve said before, you never know what the other person is thinking or not thinking about you.

Newbie #2: Him

Newbie #2 was my first in-person, real life meeting with a Tinder Match. A notch on my dating belt. It’s not what you think. In fact, Mr. F is the antithesis of the so-called Tinder experience. Divorced for 18 years, Mr. F explained to me via text that he hadn’t dated at all in that time. Did I believe him? I wasn’t sure. He said his sons convinced him to finally move on with his life and added that he’ll want to go slow (again, throw out or back-burner your Tinder expectations). I responded, “That’s fine. I’ll be gentle with you .”

Unfortunately, I ignored my “rule” to ask for more pictures when a man only has a headshot. In Mr. F’s case, his headshot included sunglasses and a cap so it was hard to tell what he looked like. But I thought his bone structure indicated a good-looking man.

After 24 hours of messaging last Saturday and Sunday morning, we decided to meet for a drink Sunday afternoon. Mr. F had loaned his car to his son for the weekend so we arranged to meet in Georgetown – about halfway between our houses.

You know in the first few seconds of meeting someone whether there’s any attraction and in this case, Mr. F, did not live up to my expectations. He was thoughtful, had me sit at the only empty stool across from the crowded bar, ordered a drink etc. but when we sat down, he monopolized the conversation and it was clear we were not a match. And although that bone structure was in fact quite good, the former athlete and titled boxing champ was woefully out of shape. He had a hard time walking me to my car, a short distance away.

I think he was nervous (this may explain why he monopolized the conversation in person but not on our pre-meeting phone call). And that would go along with his newbieness. After 18 years of divorce, he truly was an old newbie.

There you have it. To paraphrase the closing lines of Naked City, there are eight million dating stories in this naked city. Today’s post has been two of them.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Facebook Stalking my Ex’s Girlfriend

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A couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of Facebook stalking my ex’s current girlfriend (GF). I had not done this before and it was not premeditated. I was searching online for local music events and happened upon an upcoming performance by my ex- and his romantic partner. The duo’s title was their two last names. I had not known the GF’s last name and only accidentally learned of her first name when one of my children let it slip. So it was pretty easy to confirm that my ex’s band mate and GF are one in the same.

I’ll back up a bit to explain the situation. Join me in some warm fusilli salad while I fill you in. Although some divorced couples maintain communication, we don’t. Our children were adults when we divorced and now that all financial entanglements have been untangled, we have no “business” reason to communicate. And that’s fine with me. I’m just not feeling the desire to stay in touch.

Right after we divorced, I admit to some minor online stalking of my ex. I wanted to clarify the names of his bands to avoid attending a performance.

But after I had that intel, I had no further interest in e stalking. It was time to move on with my life. So it was a departure for me to snoop on his GF’s social media page.

More back story: this current GF is not the woman my ex took up with soon after we separated. She’s long gone. I was mildly curious about her replacement.

So when I popped open GF’S Facebook page, I saw that she was younger than my ex (and me) and blonde, like her predecessor. A cliché come to life. There are so many “experiential clichés” in life – e.g., middle-aged man buys a sports car.

The GF’s Facebook page had only a few photos and no pictures of my ex. A check of her “status” revealed she was “in a relationship” as of 2013. She didn’t name her significant other, but I knew it was my ex. And then I saw his complimentary comment about her latest photo.

I closed the page.

Here’s the funny part. If my ex came crawling back to me, I wouldn’t have him. Truth: I don’t want him. And yet, it hurts to see evidence of his relationship and how relatively easy it is (and has been) for him to find someone. This is a harsh reality of what I call dating disparity. In general, divorced men have an easier time finding a date, a companion, or a partner, than divorced women – especially in the boomer years. Challenge me on this but this has been my experience and what I have observed.

So when I’m in a dry spell and not meeting any men, when there are no possible relationships in my life, I think about dating disparity and my ex.

In contrast, when I’m dating and have lots of possibilities, there are few thoughts of either dating disparity or my ex.

I’m used to this cycle by now. Dating dry spells can lead to the blues and self-pity. But self-pity doesn’t offer any rewards. To counteract the blues, I learned that it helps to get busy, reach out to friends, do something new.

That’s why even though I knew in advance that opening the GF’s Facebook page might trigger some emotional shakiness; I also knew any blue notes would be brief. It’s called healing.

If you liked this post or any past ones, subscribe to get regular email delivery of Dating, Sex, and Life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Blog Birthday: 14 Lessons Learned about Dating, Sex, and Life in Your 60s

Wonder woman for blog

In honor of the 1-year birthday of this blog (February 14), I’m going to indulge in a brief interlude of narcissism. Today’s theme: what I learned in the last year about dating, sex, and life in your 60s – and blogging.

My goal, as always, is to impart useful knowledge, make you laugh, or just be that wing woman sitting at the whine bar with you while we wonder why the hell we can’t find the one.

I’m going to write this blog post in real dating time. In other words, I’m writing this post while texting two guys simultaneously – a guy from Tinder and a Bumble match.

Given my track record lately, one will turn out to be a Russian spy who has traveled forward in time from the cold war era and the other one will actually be a married trans woman. But hope springs eternal…so I text on.

Join me in an anti-Valentine’s Day treat of creamy Gorgonzola and portobello mushroom risotto created by a wonderfully named chef called Nadia G (of Bitchin’ Kitchen fame). Just substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock and you will eat like Nadia A.

And now I present my top 14 lessons learned in the last year about dating, sex, life in your 60s, and blogging:

*Maximizing opportunities keeps hope alive. I’m on multiple dating sites and apps. Later this month, I will try speed dating a second time (via a new speed dating meet-up) and attend a Match happy hour with live in the flesh as opposed to virtual men.

*Keep trying something new. This is related to the maximizing opportunities point above. The single life is not only about dating but also about finding ways to make new friends and to enrich your life through education, culture, or sport. I signed up for a Spanish class, multiple new meet-up groups, and went to museums, art galleries, poetry readings, and story telling events.

*Keep trying something old in a new way. Because I have CRS (Can’t Remember Shit), I have no idea what I meant when I jotted this down in my first draft of this post…. but it sounds good so I’m keeping it. Please tell me what you think I meant.

*It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. Take this in any way you want. Going to a bar happy hour by myself was a leap for this shy blogger.

*Say yes to as much as you can. Even if you’re tired. Even if you’re cranky. Go, do, enjoy.

*If a man starts to make you feel bad about yourself in any way, run to the nearest exit. Consider the source and do not believe anything he says about you.

*Similarly, if a man doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, look elsewhere.

*Get used to the roller coaster of dating. One day you’ll be messaging or talking to 3 guys – all seemingly good possibilities and by the end of the next day, one has disappeared, one is revealed as a scammer, and the other one is starting to creep you out.

*Smile to yourself when you’re out with a couple (married or otherwise) that drives each other crazy or engages in petty fighting. At this moment, say, TGIS (Thank God I’m Single.)

*If a man’s total focus is on sex – either before or after you meet – drop him even if you want sex.

*Put on your big girl panties and tell your man what you need and what you want.

*Keep a journal or write a blog to help you figure out your life. Writing an anonymous blog helped motivate me to try new things – for the good of the blog. 

*Be as physically active as you can to relieve stress and to feel better about yourself.

*Be a woman who roars. Revel in your strength and independence. It feels good to add oil and transmission fluid to your car, tighten that loose toilet seat, manage a home renovation project, and book an overseas trip.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know. If you liked this post or any past ones, sign up to get regular email delivery of this blog. To maximize your pleasure, sign up for my Twitter feed and like my Facebook page. You’ll get frequent daily updates of news and features about dating, relationships, sex, the single life, and life in your 60s.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Get your Angries Out

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Have you gotten your angries out? If you’re divorced, widowed, or single following the break-up of a serious relationship, you know what I mean. Whether you were the “dumpee,” the one left behind, or the instigator dumper, there’s bound to be some anger floating around your universe.

I went through an angry phase after my separation. This followed a phase of disbelief, which in turn was preceded by a coma-like period. Got that? Coma – disbelief – anger.

Perhaps you have experienced a marital coma state. In my case, it consisted of several years of slow disengagement from my then husband. When you’re in a coma, you know something is not right but you don’t want to face it, so you ignore it.

When I finally woke up from my coma thanks to a crucial conversation, disbelief set in. After a long marriage, it is indeed hard to believe that it is over. But once you do, it’s time for some healthy anger. Chow down on some angry shrimp as we talk about this emotion.

So once it was clear that I was going to be in a for a long, complicated and painful divorce process, there were lots of triggers for “the angries.”

Let’s run through a list of angry triggers that may resonate with you: the reason for the divorce, the lack of or ineffective attempt at reconciliation, the impact on your family, the impact on your self esteem, the impact on your finances, the actual divorce settlement, etc, etc., etc.

The purpose of this post is not to wallow in anger. It’s to lobby for the benefits of accepting the anger, embracing it while it lasts, and working through it so that you can dismiss it. It’s all part of the healing process.

So back to the end of disbelief. That’s when I started to channel The Incredible Hulk on a periodic basis. I’d be going along, coping, getting the business of healing done and then bam, out of the blue, something would happen to trigger a burst of anger, fortunately without the ripping of clothes and transformation to a green monster.

I remember one instance in particular. I was working out on the elliptical at home, listening to a Pandora station when You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette came on. I hadn’t been feeling angry but listening to the raw anger of the lyrics (what a perfect break-up song), brought out my own hostile thoughts.

I started to fantasize about a graphic revenge scenario. Think Kill Bill. This was not the kind of thing I typically imagined. As I stepped furiously on the machine, my own personal revenge movie streamed on my consciousness. I increased the volume of the song to fully experience it. When it was over, I was exhausted but somehow I had worked through the anger by working out and hearing another woman’s wrathful tale.

The next time I wanted to exercise, I downloaded You Oughta Know and had a 4-minute angry therapy workout. This plan served me well during the divorce process.

As time went on, bursts of anger got shorter and less frequent. Now, after 6 years of healing, I rarely experience the angries.

If you are newly separated, divorced, or widowed or just never got your angries out, seek out some home-brewed anger therapy. Find your favorite revenge song, strap on those sneakers, and work through that anger.

You’ll feel better, help mend your broken heart and strengthen it at the same time.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Single Lady Sings the Holiday Blues

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The blues ain’t nothin’ but a pain in your heart

When you get a bad start, you and your man have to part

I ain’t gonna just sit around and cry

                      Lady Sings the Blues, Billie Holiday

It’s Labor Day on Monday – not a religious or sentimental holiday – and yet, I’m wondering if I’ll have the holiday blues. What single person doesn’t know about this affliction?

Since my separation and divorce, I’ve lived through 32 major holidays — Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah, New Year’s Eve/Day and Valentine’s Day. This will be the 33rd.

And that’s the key, isn’t it? I lived through them.

Some may argue that Valentine’s Day isn’t a major holiday but when you’re separated, divorced, or frustrated by the single dating life, a lack of a Valentine honey can be depressing.

And Labor Day always seems to remind me of intact family and relationship celebrations.

But I’m not going to wallow here. I’m going to tell you about some good post separation/divorce holidays I HAVE had and give you an action plan to prevent or at least help you cope with the blues. While we discuss this plan, let’s have some of Tori Avey’s Black-eyed pea burgers.

Last Valentine’s Day was the first one since my divorce in which I had a date. It was a good thing since I had recently endured a breakup with Mr. L, a man I had been seeing.

I wasn’t head over heels in love with my Valentine’s date and we only went out once after that but on February 14 we were both in the mood for a romantic celebration. We went to dinner and a play. He brought me chocolates and wore a dapper suit. I wore a red dress. Despite the freezing cold and snow, we had a good time.

The Valentine’s date was preceded by Hanukah and New Year’s Eve celebrations with family and Mr. L (even though we were too new for a “family meet.”) So I got a taste of the type of celebration I had been craving – a mix of family and a romantic interest. And that was a good feeling – even if I couldn’t duplicate it on every holiday. It provided hope and a sense that there was a “turnaround” in the way life events could play out for me as a single woman.

So what can one do to prevent or lessen the holiday blues? It’s not DNA sequencing science and hopefully you will get some new ideas or start thinking of your own tactics. (Side note: Since Labor Day is the day after tomorrow, some of these tips will be more useful to you for future holidays.)

12 Tips to Prevent the Holiday Blues:

  1. Make plans. In advance. At least a week before the holiday, reach out to friends or any family living locally to see if they can get together for an evening out, unless you are planning to entertain. See Tip #2.
  2. Host a gathering – whether dinner or a game night (on TV or a board game). Make sure to invite your single friends who may also suffer from the holiday blues.
  3. If you’re feeling brave, plan to get out of town on a solo travel adventure. Check out these resources for ideas and possible companions:

Wandermates

Solos Vacations

Brown Girls Fly

Meet Plan Go

Wanderful

Girls that Travel

Journey Woman

Girl about the Globe

Only Pack What You Can Carry

  1. Sign up for a Meetup event.  The closer it gets to a holiday, the more Meetup activities are scheduled. You’re not the only one at risk of the holiday blues.
  2. Commit to an engrossing project:
  • Organize your music downloads
  • Create a new music mix file for the gym
  • Purge and clean out your closet and pack up stuff to give away or sell
  • Organize photos into albums
  • If weather allows, plant or weed a garden
  1. If you enjoy arts and/or crafts, commit to a one or two-day project. Plan in advance and get any needed materials. Listen to music, have a glass of wine, and create!
  2. Plan a reading or TV series marathon. Make sure it’s a book or show that will transport you. Periodic escapism is healthy.
  3. If stores are open, shop. Retail therapy in moderation and within budget is therapeutic. You will be where people are even if you don’t know them and that might make you feel better.
  4. Work on improving or refreshing your dating profile. Join a new dating site or rejoin a site you cancelled because no one was on it. New guys are always joining. And holiday weekends are active times for online daters, perhaps because everyone has a touch of holiday blues.  Consider joining a crazy niche dating site you haven’t tried such as Bristlr.
  5. Stay up late and watch old romantic movies.  Throw caution to the wind and rent a pay per view film.
  6. Schedule a massage the day before a holiday (unless you can get one ON the holiday). A good massage = lovely.
  7. Go to the gym and exercise like crazy. You won’t be the only one there. Make those endorphins work overtime.

Whatever you do, don’t pay bills, organize old family photos (that include ones with your –ex), or do anything that is not fun and uplifting.

Let me know if you ever get the holiday blues and share ways you cope.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating,

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

The Broken Ties That Bind

“It’s so funny,” my daughter says when she tells me she is baking her father a vanilla cake for his birthday.

“What?” I ask. I’m driving home from a nice evening at Bohemian Caverns, an iconic DC jazz club I had managed to miss in all of my years in Washington.

Thanks to a jazz and blues Meetup group, I finally experienced the truly cavern-like atmosphere of the dark, mood-lit club. It’s so dark you could indeed surreptitiously stroke a lover’s leg, a fantasy suggested by a first date crush I encountered awhile back.

But I digress – a couple of times. We might as well break for a lunch of Add a Pinch’s baked mahi mahi. Now back to the story.

“What’s funny?” I repeat on speakerphone.

“You and Dad say the same things a lot of the time,” my daughter says.

“Oh, you mean because I wanted a vanilla cake for my birthday too?” I ask.

“Yes. And a lot of things are the same,” she says.

“What do you mean?” I’m starting to get curious.

“Like when I look in his frig, he has a lot of the same foods.”

“Really? That’s surprising since he doesn’t cook,” I assert.

I remember her telling me how he didn’t have much food in his refrigerator when he first moved out of our marital home to what was apparently a small, depressing apartment. Just desserts I had always thought — though, inexplicably, I felt sorry for him too.

“Oh, he cooks,” she says. “It’s more that he has some of the same stuff. You know – lots of vegetables.”

“Well,” I say, not feeling as sensitive as I normally would given my nice evening, “we did live together for a long time.”

I thought about our respective states for a moment. “And we seem to have some of the same medical issues,” I offered. “Like our bad knees.”

“What else?” I ask. I’m getting really curious now. I hadn’t thought of how we grew together and became more similar in quite some time.

“I can’t think of anything else,” she says, “but it happens a lot. And it makes me smile.”

And then I remember how, like many long-time couples, we grew more similar in dozens of little — and some big — ways from liking the same foods to seeking a similar lifestyle in retirement.

And, like many long-married couples (today would have been our 40th wedding anniversary), we also grew apart in big ways.

I am reminded once again of the oddities of life and how love is forever until it’s not.

I’m not the same person he came to not love. I’m stronger, better, more confident and centered, full of creativity, and much less vanilla.

And so we can’t really be the same in any of the big ways any more – even if we both still like vanilla cake.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Put your Best Face Forward: Get a Professional Photo

Abraham Lincoln had a point when he said, “There are no bad pictures, that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” But do we really want to show a prospective match that face? That potential mate won’t be as forgiving as a friend or relative who knows you look better in person and — even if you don’t — loves you anyway.

From the day I created my first online dating profile, I realized the importance of posting a good photo. When I signed up on a couple of dating sites, I carefully selected what I thought were flattering photos taken by relatives.

I even used a photo taken by a guy I dated. He ghosted me inexplicably after 3 months. Only after I emailed him to ask why I hadn’t heard from him in a week, did he tell me he wanted to break up. As revenge, the very next day after he dumped me, I loaded a photo he had taken of me onto a new dating site. I was angry more than upset and my approach was: new dating site, new profile, and new photo.

Over time, I changed my main photo and after a few months both added and deleted pictures. The idea was to keep things fresh and as current as possible.

But recently I started thinking about having a professional take some photos I could use for dating profiles. After interviewing dating coach Erika Ettin, who advocates the use of professional photographs when possible, I decided to bite the financial bullet and go for it. I took the advice offered in her book Love at First Site: Tips and Tales for Online Dating Success from a Modern-Day Matchmaker and opted for an outdoor shoot.

Before I tell you more, let’s break for a lovely celebration of the summer season by enjoying Bon Appetit’s grilled shrimp salad with corn and avocado.

The photographer I chose, Joe LeBlanc with Ars Nova Images, also suggested shooting outdoors and we went to a nearby park. I have to admit that when you are over 29 as I am :), natural lighting can take 10 years off of your appearance. When I compared the test shots taken in Joe’s studio with the outdoor test shot, it was easy to go with the outdoor location.

Joe took about 300 photos (so quickly I couldn’t even tell it was that many) and he posed me in several settings in the park. I ended up with some dynamite natural-looking portraits. Sorry I can’t share them with you as Nadia continues to travel incognito on this blog, but I can share the results.

After loading the best photo onto my sites (Match, Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, How About We*, and Bumble*), I sat back and waited for what I hoped would be an uptick in views and messages.

It took a few hours and then shazam, incoming! It wasn’t a torrential downpour, but a reasonable summer rain of men. It’s been two weeks since the new photo was posted and I’ve had two dates and more e-mails, views, “likes,” “favorites,” etc. than before.

I haven’t met “the one” yet, but I’m certain I have improved my chances.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

*More on my experiences with these two dating venues in a future post.