A Mirage in the Desert of Dating

blox pix desert mirage

It’s cuffing season, a time when single people want to couple up so they can have a boo for the holidays, a snuggle partner for the cold weather. But I’m experiencing more of a desert season – long treks sifting through the sand of matches without connecting with anyone even worth meeting. I thought this dry spell might be broken but it was not to be. I’ll fill you in on my mirage experience while we enjoy some seasonal roasted squash with brown butter and quinoa.

After a long period where Match was my least productive dating venue, I began to hear from some men on this site. I’m sure it was due to a minor tweaking of my bio, an action that propels a profile to a more prominent position.

Mr. R initiated contact. It’s always lovely when I don’t have to be proactive. His initial email was also an invitation for coffee. I liked his profile and photos. My dating rules are flexible now – particularly when I’m in a dry spell – so I didn’t push for a phone call or further messaging and agreed to meet.

He said he’d look for a coffee shop that was “not a madhouse of noise” and get back to me. He included his cell number at the end of the message. Bingo! Now I could check him out properly. It turns out his number was associated with his medical practice so after finding his name I did a straight Google search. Now I knew I was about to meet a tall liberal minded physician with an artsy creative side.

I began to feel excited. But then I found two You Tube videos he “starred” in. They were health based and produced by the hospital he was affiliated with. I was pleased with his voice and speaking style (so important in a partner) but then I noticed he was wearing a wedding ring. My excitement dimmed.

The videos were posted last June. I pondered the possible explanations for the wedding ring:

*His profile, which indicated he was divorced, was not truthful and he was married.

*He was very recently divorced.

*With a communications background, I am aware of a myriad of reasons why films may be produced but kept in limbo for a long time before public posting. I theorized that the videos could have been made months earlier.

Despite the wedding ring videos, I decided to meet Mr. R but to make sure I asked for details about his divorce and noticed whether he had a tan line on his ring finger.

We finalized a meeting time for Sunday morning and a location not too far from where I lived.

At 9:30 on Saturday night, I received a text message from Mr. R confirming that he was still on for coffee the next morning but wanted to be straight with me “about where I’ve found myself to be.”

He said he was still “wrenched with feelings about my divorce” and not really ready to start dating. “I need to tell you that,” he continued. “Speaking with my best friend tonight helped me recognize the form of the anxiety I’ve been feeling. I’m still processing it. I would enjoy coffee and something to eat and conversation with you but that’s all I can manage right now. If you still want to meet, please let me know.”

And so my mirage of a promising prospect disappeared. I replied that I was disappointed but understood and know what it’s like to be in that emotional limbo that can hit after divorce. I declined to meet the next morning and ended my message with “Continue healing and taking care of yourself and get in touch when you think you are ready to date.”

He wrote a nice response back and said he would contact me when he was ready to date.

My mood went from hopeful and excited to generally bummed out. The next day when I went on Match I saw he had recently been online. I wasn’t sure what to make of this until a friend suggested he was likely just browsing, not reaching out to anyone. I remembered doing that when I was separated and in the early days after divorce so I chose to believe this explanation. A few days later, Mr. R hid his profile – consistent with his story of not being ready to date.

You probably think the story is over. But I have been online long enough to know that guys do come back – sometimes after months or even a year. You might hear from a guy you dated briefly 8 months ago or from a man you messaged but never met.

I’m not sitting by the cell phone waiting for Mr. R to be emotionally ready to date but I have a tiny bit of hope that he’ll reach out at some point.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

An Imagined Meeting of Online Daters Anonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

Diary: A Week without Dating Apps

blog pix week without dating apps

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

 

 

The Uncertainties of Online Dating

blog-pix-candy-store

Here’s what I don’t like about online dating. Eat this yummy white bean kale salad with tahini dressing while I tell you about it. In a typical encounter, you exchange texts or emails and possibly a phone call with Mr. X. You meet one evening for drinks. You both seem to have a good time and appear to like each other.

The next morning (or even later that same night), Mr. X sends you a text saying, “I had a nice time” or “That was fun.” This first post-date text may or may not mention getting together again. If he does not ask you out and you see that he’s online on the dating site, you are thrown into turmoil.

Perhaps you are online mostly to see if Mr. X is online…but you also received a “like” from a guy and you’re curious. When you find that Mr. X is also online, you immediately feel you are in competition with whoever else he’s “viewing” or messaging. You imagine he has found your replacement! The reality: You don’t know what he’s doing and, like you, he may only want to see if his new romantic interest – you – is online.

Now imagine a pre-online dating world. In this version of the first date encounter, Mr. X phones you to say he had a nice time.   Yes, he (and you) might encounter other potential romantic interests but finding these matches requires more deliberate effort. Neither you nor Mr. X has an always open in your living room candy store filled with others looking for romance. And it is this candy store that causes you to stress out as you imagine your guy binging on an excess of sugar.

In the pre-online dating world, you might want to date others and may be already dating others while you figure out who is the one (or one of the ones) but your process will be more deliberate. It will take more effort. In this universe, there’s a greater likelihood you’ll continue to focus on each other exclusively until you’re certain it’s working or not working.

Back to today’s world. Until you’re in a committed relationship, you stress when Mr. X is online, or changes his profile picture, or even temporarily removes his picture (why?).

Over time, and with enough false relationship starts, you may get more blasé as a defense mechanism. You don’t curb your enthusiasm when you’re with Mr. X but when you’re alone, you try not to hope as much; you limit your daydreams. Only when he gives you a clear sign that candy means nothing to him, do you let hope back in.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Strength in Solitude

blog-pix-woman-alone-on-beach

A few years ago – soon after my divorce, my daughter and I took a beach vacation. As we walked along the soft white sugar sand of the Gulf Coast, I saw a woman of about 80 strolling purposefully with her dog.

“I wonder if that will be me some day – walking alone, not with a partner,” I wondered aloud, thinking how sad that would be.

My daughter, responding to my words and mood, said, “What’s wrong with that? She looks happy. It would be o.k.”

At that moment, I couldn’t believe such a scenario would be okay. But I could now.

Let’s chew on that while devouring some of Jamie Oliver’s potato cakes with smoked salmon.

The beach memory was triggered by a temporary change in my current living situation. A couple of years ago, my son, like so many adult children, returned to his parental home (or half of it given the divorce) to pursue a second college degree as an entre to a new career.

There’s more to his story just as there’s more to the story of what happens when adult children live with their parents, but that’s not on today’s blog menu. I will say that, for the most part, the arrangement works well.

But the situation prevents me from truly living alone, something I wanted and needed to do after my divorce. Other than a random week or two here or there, one or both of my children have lived with me except when they were in college. And during that period, I was married so the house was not empty. Going back in years, I went from living with my parents, to living with college roommates, to living with the man who would become my husband.

So, I skipped that whole part of life called “being single and living alone.” And I was both eager to experience it and a little nervous as well. How would I navigate living alone and would I be lonely? Fast forward to a couple of days ago when my son left for a week’s vacation to visit a friend.

Finally, I could invite some friends over for dinner while having the house truly to myself. And I could see what it would be like to live alone while in a pretty good place – healed from my divorce, stronger, and more centered than ever before.

This temporary break in shared housing got me thinking about solitude, being alone, loneliness, and all variations of that theme.

I’ve always been someone who enjoyed a certain amount of time spent alone – whether reading, writing, taking a walk, or going for a drive with music blasting. But it’s not something I want to do 24/7. At a certain point in my day, I start to feel lonely and need to be around people.

For more on the balance between solitude and company, see the wonderful Brain Pickings blog post on experiencing at least one prolonged period of solitude in life.

After I divorced, I needed to learn not only how to be without a partner but also how to be independent – to rely on myself for everything from adding oil to the car to tightening a loose toilet seat (thanks You Tube). A solo road trip no longer seemed liked a scary impossibility. Solitude helped build strength. Strength begot resilience.

All of this doesn’t mean I want to be alone.

There is nothing more important to me than finding one of the ones, a partner to love and share life with.  The crucial thing is to live well and to be happy while searching for that special person and to never stop searching – even if you’re the oldest person on Match, Bumble, and Plenty of Fish.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Resources:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/06/22/desert-solitaire-edward-abbey/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/what-is-solitude

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199801/the-call-solitude

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/27/suggestions-for-savoring-solitude/

 

First Dates

blog post high heel sneakers

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about first dates. This is not unexpected because I have a lot of first dates. And I don’t mean I have a lot of dates… just a lot of FIRST dates. Obligatory sigh.

Do you get hungry after reading the lead paragraph of my posts? If you are a faithful reader, you have been conditioned to expect a mouth-watering recipe at this point. So, enjoy a bowl of tortellini with snap peas and pesto (with or without the mint) while we discuss first dates. And, if you’re not a faithful reader, sign up!

There’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in a first date and a lot of inner monologue that takes place.

I’ve had a few dreadful first dates, a number of boring/mediocre ones, and some good and great ones. The irony is that a great first date doesn’t necessarily lead to a great second encounter, let alone a dating relationship.

It’s always fun to review the bad first dates…even when they’re not #10 on the horrific scale.

I recall a date with Mr. A, a nice but unbelievably boring man, I met for a drink after work. As a naïve new divorcée, I agreed to meet Mr. A despite our rather lackluster phone call. I should have known that struggling for conversation on the phone is a likely predictor of a painful first date. And painful it was. We ended up in a conversation loop about our kids, his new retirement, my hoped for retirement. No chemistry. No pizazz to the conversation. Only the wine made the brief date tolerable.

At the 45-minute point, I realized I was starving. The smells of pesto were tempting me. Mr. A asked if I wanted to get some food. I couldn’t imagine sitting there for another second. So, despite my grumbling tummy, I said I needed to walk my daughter’s dog. In fact, my canine care services were not needed that day.   I hated resorting to a white lie but could not think of an alternative and kind excuse.

The next day I was surprised when Mr. A emailed me to ask me out again. Was he unaware of the awkwardness and poor connection? This time I was direct and said I didn’t think we were a match.

One other bad date sticks in my mind. I met a Mr. B (I can’t remember his name so B is for Bad) at Politics and Prose for a lunchtime date. When I arrived, Mr. B was at a table drinking a coffee. After I greeted him (oh, disappointment – he was much older and much shorter than his profile and photos indicated), I asked, “Have you eaten?” “Yes,” he said. “Well, I didn’t have lunch so I’m going to grab a light bite,” I replied.

He didn’t offer to get me something or even wait in line with me. Yes, on a first date, I like that (though I always offer to pay half of whatever the joint bill is). So, given his age, height, and lack of chivalry, I didn’t have much hope.

When I returned to the table, we chatted (cocktail party get-to-know-you conversation) but he kept checking out every woman who walked by. Not that I wanted to lock eyes with him but I found it annoying and disrespectful. When I learned during the conversation that he had 7 cars I was even more annoyed that he hadn’t offered to at least pay for my tea. You can call me old fashioned in this regard.

Mr. B and I had nothing in common and after a painful 35 minutes, I said I needed to leave to prepare for a dinner party (a half–truth since I had company coming for dinner but plenty of time to prep).

And then there are the good first dates. He looks good. He looks better than his pictures. He smiles and is engaged. There is obvious, easy chemistry and connection. Conversation flows. He hasn’t yet revealed himself to be a narcissist.

He knows how to kiss – discovered at the end, possibly the middle, and sometimes at the very beginning of the date. He might rub your feet (yes, this happened), you might go to a second venue just to extend the evening (at his request), or you might go for a drink and then a walk.

You might be asked for a second date at the end of date #1 or you might be asked the next day. The date might last 3 hours or it might last 6.

The first date might be the beginning of a relationship or just the beginning of a short dating interval until it is clear that he’s not the right one. Regardless, it’s a good or great first date.

So, dear readers, hope for the best when you’re putting on your high heel sneakers in advance of date #1. Yes, on a scale of 1 to 10, it could end up being a zero but it might be a 20.

Anything can happen.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Burned out to Somewhat Hopeful

blog woman profile

I was prepared to title this post “fed up with dating” but at this moment I have possibilities and, therefore, a smidgen of hope.

I need to be pampered. Will you cook for me today? I made this recently and loved it: baked cod and potatoes with mustard horseradish sauce.

It’s been a bleak season and by season I mean months and months of going on first and second dates and maybe third dates or no dates and endless sifting, reading emails from non-prospects, cutting off scammers, emailing and messaging prospects, with a few phone calls thrown in.

Over the past year, I changed my tactics, revised my tactics, tweaked my profile, added professional photos to my profile, read articles on dating, started and even finished some books on the dating process, attended dating webinars, met with a matchmaker out of curiosity, and wondered if I would have to change the title of this blog to reflect my current situation and mood: Burned Out and Bitchy.

At various moments, I agonized over my age, my appearance, and the dating pool (seems more like a puddle sometimes).

So, as it sometimes happens, just when I thought I was going to have to change religions and enter a nunnery or Buddhist monastery, there’s action…or at least positive movement.

Could this shift be explained by the universe’s appreciation of the fact that despite my frustration, I haven’t given up? Examples of perseverance:

*I signed up for new activities – to enrich my life, not just to meet men

*After a period of not sending the first email, I decided to be the initiator again. Why the hell not? Personal mantra: Be tough when rejected and remember I am rejecting many too.

*I continue to blog about dating, an emotional challenge when I’m not meeting anyone (send hugs, please)

So now, at this very moment (because all can change in an instant), I am corresponding with two men I e-mailed first: Mr. P, who presents a geographic challenge, but suggested meeting halfway between our houses for lunch and Mr. C. who I contacted on the basis of our similar tastes in music. I also matched with Mr. J on Coffee Meets Bagel and Mr. B on JSwipe. On these last two dating apps, a “match” means you both like each other.

And, as I predicted, Mr. C may no longer be in the picture (a theory based on the 24 hour break I took from writing this post). Sometimes it’s hard to know if a guy is still in the picture or just takes his sweet time responding. So perhaps Mr. C is a slow responder…or not.

I have been in this situation before – enjoying a bonanza of prospects who, for various reasons, are gone within a matter of day or hours.

Back to the hope issue. Other than my possible prospects, two things gave me hope recently:

*I was introduced to a couple that met in their late 50s as a result of the woman initiating contact on OkCupid. They have been an item for several years now and seem very happy. The hope quotient for this example increased because the individuals are “older” and the woman made the first move.

*I attended the first installment of a dating seminar given by online dating coach Damona Hoffman. It wasn’t just her positivity that inspired me. She also had concrete tips and tactics for navigating the modern dating scene and finding love. I’ll visit some of these tips in a future blog post.

Today, in my moment of hope, I’ll leave you with Hoffman’s advice to adopt “an abundance mindset.” Like many of my friends, I am sometimes guilty of having a scarcity worldview, believing that “there are no good men where I live.” Part of the solution, says Hoffman, is changing your criteria – whether it’s height, distance, or something else. She’s not advocating that you ignore your deal breakers or must- haves, but being flexible is important.

As for me, I “widened the pool” by joining many dating sites and apps and going to more real-life activities. My personal homework and challenge is to expand in-person activities and venues even more. This requires a daily B for Bold vitamin.

What’s your challenge?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia