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.

XXXOOO

Nadia

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.

XXXOOO

Nadia

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.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

A Single Gal’s Friday

blox pix woman vacuuming

It’s Friday about 1 p.m. and I’m cleaning the house in between giving myself both a manicure and a pedicure (the clear polish I’m using signals low anticipation of my date tonight). The mani-pedi specifics determine the level of interest I’m feeling for a pending first date.

Clear polish indicates the lowest level of excitement (unless I’m in a clear polish phase). A salon mani indicates a relatively high level of interest and a salon mani-pedi combo is the equivalent of …well, let’s just say my hormones are geared up. Men, don’t worry, this post isn’t all about manicures.

Sit down and have some of Jose Andrés’ gazpacho while we analyze Friday’s timeline.

Let’s back up from the mani-pedi/house cleaning frenzy to the day’s beginning:

6:00 a.m.: I make coffee and read the Times on my iPad. I’m distracted from the latest Administration fiasco by wondering whether Mr. D, the guy I’m supposed to meet that evening, will confirm our date or fade away. Our last communication was 3 days ago so I’m not sure of the status. As you may recall, I’ve been burned before.

9:20 a.m.: Showered and dressed, I’m packing up my stuff for the gym when my phone beeps that I have an email. Yes, it’s Mr. D, confirming our 5 p.m. date and saying he’s looking forward to meeting me. E-mail has been our primary form of communication. We haven’t spoken on the phone though we have exchanged cell numbers. I no longer require a pre-date phone call and, as it turns out, it wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome.

9:45 a.m.: Working out – it’s cardio day and I’m taking a little break from swimming to give my arms a rest so I pound away on the low impact cardio machine while listening to tunes on RockMyRun.

10:45 a.m.: Run errands, none of them relevant to the dating life. No meet cutes to report but a yummy taste of fresh bread from the local bread store.

11:30 a.m.: Back home for a lunch of that gazpacho.

Let’s return to the cleaning/home nail salon activities. Here’s the deal with cleaning my house before a first date. Although I have never brought someone to my home at the end of a first date/meeting, lately I’ve been cleaning my house “just in case.” Just in case I meet someone who stirs up so much mutual chemistry that we must end our evening at my house. So I vacuum, clean the bathrooms, hide any evidence of my blog, and turn on my bedroom’s ambient lighting (eclectic electric lamps and candles). Somehow this exercise, even though I know it’s likely futile, makes me feel better – like there’s a possibility of romance and sex and who knows what else.

The reality is, since my divorce, first dates haven’t led to this outcome…but one never knows and I think I may be at a place (and at an age), where the pluses of such an encounter might just outweigh the potential minuses.

3:00 p.m.: I shower, reapply my makeup, and totally change my planned outfit for this evening – opting for black jeggings and a silky top (more casual than my original choice of a black skirt/blouse combo).

Mr. D suggested I choose our meeting place. I picked a laid back bar/restaurant. I try to mix up first date locations for the wait staff’s sake as well as my own. I base the choice of a casual or more formal venue on my sense of what might work best with a particular man (of course I have to like the place too).

4:45 p.m.: It’s raining like crazy as I drive to our date – slight butterflies, but mostly trying to maintain hope that this, my 100th give-or-take first date, will be a good one.

5:00 p.m.: I pull into the parking lot – right on time. Before I open the door, Mr. D calls me on my Google Voice number. Our first conversation – and it’s to tell me he’ll be 15 minutes late since he forgot his phone and had to return home to get it. Sigh. I tell him I’ll meet him inside. At least he doesn’t have a thick accent from his home state of New Jersey.

5:15 p.m.: It’s still pouring rain and I’m sitting in the last booth by the bar. I’m drinking a happy hour white wine, checking my phone for any updates from Mr. D, and looking at every single male who walks in the door. There’s a man who looks 80. That better may not be him! Phew, he keeps walking.

5:30 pm.: Okay, he’s now officially 30 minutes late and I’m trying to be calm. The waitress, sensing my frustration, tells me that rain and flooding are impacting traffic. I take another sip of pinot grigio, respond to a text from my brother, and note that there’s absolutely no one of interest sitting at the bar.

5:36 p.m.: I see a man enter the front door. He’s unattractive, definitely not 6′, walks rather stiffly, and appears to be wearing a “company” work shirt.  Oh, good, he’s leaving…wait, he’s taking out his cell phone to make a call. Yep, my phone is ringing. I tell Mr. D where I am (he apparently doesn’t text as I had sent him a text with my whereabouts) and he lumbers over to the booth.

Sigh. I would never have guessed that the man before me is the same one I’ve been communicating with on OurTime. Ladies, and gentlemen, I’m sure you have faced this situation before. You try to hide your utter disappointment at the disconnect between someone’s profile photos and the flesh and bone person in front of you. You have two choices: make the best of the situation or be a total bitch/dick, make an excuse and leave immediately. I try to make the best of it and stay for at least 30 minutes. I can talk to most anyone for 30-45 minutes. I draw on my journalism training and ask questions.

Mr. D is at least a nice man and makes an effort to get to know me. I stay for almost an hour (remember I waited 30+ minutes for him) but decline a second drink or any food. Side note: I’ve learned to not order food in these situations. Inevitably, the conversation stalls and you still have to eat/wait for the bill, etc. Mr. D plans on having another beer. He refuses my offer to pay for my wine and stands up to shake my hand (!) as I prepare to leave. Our height disparity is clear. “You’re tall!” he says. Yes, I think, as I remember that his profile promises a man who’s a full 2 inches taller than me.

6:45 p.m.: Home. Eating a sandwich made with bread from the bread store, and glad I don’t have to eat with Mr. D.

8:30 p.m. Looks like a Netflix night. It’s the premiere of The Incredible Jessica James and I’m loving the opening scene with actress Jessica Williams being brutally honest with a first Tinder date. Nothing like a funny movie to help soothe your disappointed heart.

9:30 p.m. My phone beeps with an email from Mr. D. (He definitely doesn’t text.) He writes that he enjoyed meeting me and hopes to see me again. I’ll email him tomorrow to say: I enjoyed meeting you too but, sorry, I don’t think we’re a match. At this moment, I’m more interested in what happens to Jessica.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia