Post-Valentine’s Day Blues

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Are you feeling the post-Valentine’s Day blues? I am and perhaps it’s because I didn’t follow through on all of my Valentine’s Day Resolutions to meet men in real life.

Let’s enjoy a blues-appropriate lunch of Southwestern black bean quinoa mango medley. Keeping it light for the approaching bikini season.

Oh, yes, those resolutions. I’m afraid I didn’t attempt all of them…and in one case, I tried to game the system by combining three in one day.

Among my resolutions were plans to write in a coffee shop, have dinner at a bar, and go to a “social” grocery store in the evening. As mentioned above, I mistakenly tried to cram all three actions into a single afternoon/early evening.

Here’s how the day went: One Wednesday afternoon, I decided to try writing at a local Starbucks. I arrived about 3:45 p.m. Although there were a couple of solo men working on laptops, the venue was sparsely populated. I selected a table where I could see one of the guys but it was too far away for conversation. Had it been more crowded, it might have been less awkward to sit fairly close to one of the laptop guys. However, it wasn’t a great loss since neither man was age appropriate or particularly attractive.

Since not much was happening in the possible romance department, I decided to focus on writing. This became a challenge in concentration as a man and a woman sat next to me and carried on an annoying conversation. I should have followed the advice of one of my teachers who suggested taking notes on the conversation of strangers in order to improve one’s dialogue writing skills.

Lesson learned: Late afternoon may not be the best time to meet men in a coffee shop—though this could vary depending on the venue.

Continuing my experiment, I walked over to a nearby restaurant/bar with the intention of having a happy hour “dinner.” Although some happy hours are lively at 5 pm, this popular restaurant’s bar area was practically empty when I arrived. A couple of people sat in one of the nearby booths but virtually no one was sitting at the bar. I ordered a drink and appetizer in hopes the venue would fill up but only a small group of work colleagues sat down. I decided to cut my losses and head to the Whole Foods across the way.

Lesson learned: Some bars ARE busy at 5 pm so it makes sense to try different venues at different times and on different days of the week.

It was about 6 pm when I arrived at the Whole Foods. I was a little too buzzed from the afternoon’s competing libations – a Starbucks cappuccino followed by a generously poured glass of wine. Needless to say, I wasn’t in prime flirting form. I failed to go to the produce aisle where imaginary men could ask for my help in selecting vegetables or to the prepared foods counter where more imaginary men could ask if I have ever tried the General Tso’s Vegan Chicken.  Instead, I shopped for things I actually needed or wanted to try (e.g., Halo Top ice cream).

Lesson learned: Don’t do a grocery run when you’re tired or tipsy. Do stroll to the best meeting locations within the store (after you select whatever you really need).

Aside from the 3-in-1 disaster, I made progress on some of the other resolutions: I signed up for a free introduction to improv class to be held this weekend, registered for more meet-up events, and made a resolution action schedule (promptly ignored).

It’s always worth celebrating the small victories. Without my list of resolutions, I might not have done any of these things. Plus the benefits extend beyond possible romance –  friendship opportunities in the meet-ups and improv class and pennies saved via a produce sale at Whole Foods.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Repeated Exposure

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I spent most of last week on jury duty – my first experience performing this civic duty. It was a difficult case unrelated to the topic of this blog…but it got me thinking about the issue of repeated exposure as it relates to forming relationships.

Baby, it’s cold outside, so enjoy some creamy vegetable soup while we chat about this issue.

As a jury, we were a group of 14 (two alternates) disparate people thrown together by random computer selection. Over the course of four days, many of us started to talk to each other during lunch and the endless breaks (I object, your honor; may I approach the bench, your honor; the jury is excused while we discuss a point of law, etc., etc.).

On the last day, after a sleepless night precipitated by a stalemate in the deliberations, I connected with one of the male jurors, an attractive man about my age. Let’s call him Mr. C for cute. I had talked to other jurors but only smiled/acknowledged this particular man. We had a good and easy conversation that was interrupted when we got called into the courtroom. Then, surprisingly, when the jury returned to deliberations, all were in agreement.

After the foreman read the not guilty verdict, the jury was excused. We rushed out – our lives had been on hold for four days and all were anxious to resume them.

Mr. C and I entered the crowded elevator. No one spoke. We were all drained. Mr. C was the first to exit – several floors before mine. I said goodbye just as the door shut.

We hadn’t exchanged names. In order to preserve anonymity, the judge called us by our assigned numbers. I don’t even know if Mr. C was married.

But the experience triggered a flashback to college and early career days. It was so much easier to forge relationships when you could do so slowly and over a common bond.

In school, it was natural to bitch about the crazy English professor or the schedule of finals, or the cafeteria food.

On the job, you could bitch about your difficult boss, the poor work environment, or the cafeteria food.

Ladies and gentleman of the non-jury, I submit that having a common topic to bitch about can be the glue that binds. (Yes, I’m in the mood for clichés.)

When you have to encounter other people on a daily basis, you work a little harder to make conversation – even if they are not obvious “friend” or “romantic interest” material. There’s often a readily available topic to discuss and if the chat goes flat one day, well, you’ll have tomorrow to start over. Slowly, you may find that you really like and bond with some of these people.

It doesn’t happen that way in the online dating world. If you keep seeing the same prospects over and over, you tend to get bored. There’s no in-person forced interaction to move you away from boredom. I guess you could say good morning to the 5,000 people that are online when you log in, but it might be a little time consuming.

The rule of repeated exposure also applies to forming friendships. How much easier was it to make new girlfriends and keep those you had when you saw them every day at school? Can you imagine having the time now to talk ON THE PHONE to your friends every day?

Yes, there are adult workarounds. If you have friends in the office, you may get to chat in person every day. Or, if you live in a friendly neighborhood or condo/apartment and are on a schedule that is similar to your neighbors, you may form real connections with the people living on your block or floor.

If you belong to a temple or church, you can go to regular services or gatherings. If you are a member of a meet-up that you attend regularly, you’ll have the opportunity for repeated exposure. Ditto for a regular class at the gym or participation in a sports team or a music group.

The operative word is “regular,” a stand-in for “repeated.” 

Let’s take stock. Other than jury duty, how have I been doing with this practice of repeated exposure when it comes to creating opportunities for romance or friendships?

Work: Retired so N/A. Still connect with former colleagues.

Religion: No formal affiliation/attendance.

Gym: Attendance but no classes

Meet-ups: Attendance is random, not regular

Sports team: Nada. Swimming but no team.

Neighborhood: Maintaining connections but not forging new ones

I see some room for improvement. How about you? Are you pushing the replay button enough in order to create new bonds? Let me know.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Giving a Bad First Date a Second Chance

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Happy Thanksgiving week! I’m busy eating leftovers so please enjoy this guest post by Julie Weinberg.

I never give a bad first date a second chance. It’s a rule I established long ago in my eight years of post-divorce dating. It stemmed from a series of bad second dates following bad first dates. I asked myself, why bother? I thought my gut reaction during a first date was pretty accurate so I just went with that.

I recently had an experience, though, that has me wondering if my rule is perhaps too rigid. My shift in position is based on an interaction rather than a date but I think the principle applies. Here’s the scenario.

I arrive at a meetup.com happy hour–wait, stop the story. You’ve never heard of meetup.com?! Finish reading and commenting on this post and then immediately go to meetup.com where you will find a bonanza of like-minded people of all age groups who share your interests and plan events around them. Whatever your hobby or favorite weekend activity (comedy clubs, bird watching, hiking, canasta, you name it), you will find groups of people making plans to do it. Best yet, it is almost always FREE!

Back to my story. While spending three weeks visiting the San Francisco Bay Area on vacation, I go to a meetup.com happy hour at a yacht club. Last interruption. Note: I am not even from the Bay Area but I searched meetup.com and found what I thought would be a really nice way to spend an evening when I had nothing else planned. I swear I am not getting paid by meetup.com to promote their site; I just think it is a fabulous resource for singles looking for fun things to do. On to the story…

I walk into the restaurant and meander over to an organized looking group of about 20 people and confirm it is my meetup group. I plant myself at a table of seven or eight people and sit next to an attractive gentleman. After he exchanges pleasantries with everyone at the table for a few minutes, Mr. Attractive turns his attention to me and we dive into a more private conversation. I like him. He’s quite funny and captivating. I am thinking I would definitely like to go out with him.

During a lull in our conversation, another man at the table makes a comment about his experience on match.com and now everyone joins in the conversation because we all have online dating stories. We talk about profiles and I say, “I am brutally honest in mine” and Mr. Attractive says, “That’s a red flag for me. Someone who says she is ‘brutally honest’ really just means to me she’s a rude bitch.”

The table gets quiet. I burst out laughing because I can’t believe how rude Mr. Attractive is being to me, right there in front of everyone. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and, in my head, rename Mr. Attractive to Mr. Rude. Another woman also excuses herself, and we bond when she says, “I can’t believe what a jerk that guy was.”  We spend the rest of the evening getting to know each other and, despite Mr. Rude (or really because of him), I now have a girlfriend in the Bay Area.

A week later, while still in the Bay Area, I attend a big singles mixer at an extremely posh hotel. Two hundred plus people are in attendance. About an hour into the event, guess who comes up to me? That’s right. Mr. Attractive/Rude. I couldn’t believe it. Why would a man who announces to the world that he thinks I am a “rude bitch” be so bold as to make a second attempt at getting to know me?

Being a direct and honest midwestern girl, I cut him off and say, “I am not sure what you are thinking here, but after how rude you were to me last week I really don’t want to chitchat with you now.” He is flabbergasted. He has no idea he was rude and he wants to know what he said that made me feel that way. We proceed to spend the next hour dissecting the conversation, me telling him how I took his comment and he explaining what he meant. During this evening’s conversation, he is again engaging, funny, and apologetic. I start liking him again. By the end of the evening, he asks me out.

I was leaving the next day so the date didn’t work out but we agree to stay in touch and see each other the following month when I am back in the Bay Area.

More importantly than a potential date with Mr. Attractive/Rude, this experience got me to think about my “no second date” rule. By limiting a guy to a single coffee date, am I missing out on getting to know a really great guy? Maybe I am being too harsh. I am not sure, but over the course of the next few months I may soften my stance to see what happens. Stay tuned.

*To learn more about Julie, visit her website julieweinbergbooks.com or purchase her book, I Wish There Were Baby Factories.  

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

The Olympics of Dating: A Fantasy

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Are you “Olympic ed” out? The number one Google search question about Rio last Wednesday was “When do the Olympics end?” Move over XXXI – we need a new Olympics of Dating. It’s time for another Nadia fantasy.

Join me in some crostini with tuna tapenade while I share my mildly naughty thoughts with you…and have a glass of champagne to celebrate tonight’s end of that other Olympics.

Qualifying Sports in the Olympics of Love

Meeting Freestyle

The sport of meeting the opposite sex is the basis for all the other games. First, find a partner!

Action, Rules, and Scoring: In this Dating Olympics event, men or women score based on the quantity of phone numbers acquired during a 24-hour interval. Each sportsman/woman is paired with a spotter/bodyguard who records the player’s success and makes sure there is no hanky panky (of the number fudging type).

Competitors are allowed to acquire phone numbers from matches on dating sites and apps and from people they meet in person. Extra points are given for verified meet-cutes.

Extreme Speed Dating  

Action, Rules, and Scoring: This sport, a takeoff of traditional speed dating, is measured in seconds rather than minutes. Competitors rotate “conversational” partners after 15 seconds. Given the limited timeframe allowed to get to know someone, intuition becomes more important than actual rapport. Appearance is everything because there is nothing else. High scorers (in both the men’s and women’s divisions) are those who proactively ask the most people out on a date that is accepted.

Synchronized Texting 

Action, Rules, and Scoring: In this favorite of Millennials, the player’s task is to match the exact word count and response time (down to the second) of texts received from a competitor on the opposing team. Extra points are awarded for creativity and engagement. Fouls are called for use of the salutations “heyyyyy” and “hi gorgeous/handsome, wanna see me naked?”

Synchronized Sexting

Action, Rules, and Scoring: The action and rules are similar to Synchronized Texting but there are no fouls for naked picture offers (as long as there is no coercion). Scoring is, well, you know.

Fence Mending

Action, Rules, and Scoring: Unlike fencing, the goal of Fence Mending is to “unstab” your competitor in a planned verbal battle. Competitors are judged for their sincerity in acknowledging bullheadedness, insensitivity, and stupidity.

Flirting

Action, Rules, and Scoring: Competitors use body and verbal language to charm their partner. Judges evaluate the degree of eye contact, smiling, light arm touching, and open body language. Winners progress to the next level, whatever that might be.

Canoedling 

Action, Rules, and Scoring: In this relatively new Olympic dating sport, competitors are judged on their ability to canoodle while maneuvering a canoe through a difficult obstacle course in shark-infested waters. Points are given for maintaining continuous physical contact with the designated teammate while fighting off a shark with the paddle.

Volley Talk

Action, Rules, and Scoring: Volley Talk, in which competitors are judged on their conversational equipoise, is one of the more popular Olympic Dating games. Extra points are given for intense listening, appropriate questioning, and eye contact. Penalties are given for monologuing, curbed enthusiasm, and cell phone action while one’s partner is talking.

Sex Gymnastics

Action, Rules, and Scoring: This is a Millennial dominated sport although a few valiant Gen Xers and Baby Boomers continue to compete. Competitors are judged on extreme flexibility, inversion, and orthopedic improbability. Fouls are not given for environmental wreckage, ripped clothing, exhibitionism, or adult beverage spilling. In fact, these occurrences incur extra points.

Have I left out any games? Let me know.

Until next week, happy competing — er dating — or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Men in the Wild: Behavioral Science to the Rescue

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I’m taking a cue from the behavioral sciences to increase my comfort level with going to bars solo to meet men.

Join me in some slow cooker ratatouille and I’ll fill you in.

From what I have observed, most men are comfortable sitting in a bar solo with the intention of meeting women. Although some women also have a relaxed attitude about this tactic, a fair number of us, including me, are NOT at ease.

I have no problem going to a bar with a friend or two in hope of flirting with and meeting men. But going by myself is another story and since I believe that romantic success in a bar setting is more likely if one is alone, I have challenged myself to get comfortable with this approach.

This is where psychology comes in.

My discomfort as a solo bar goer does not qualify as a phobia and it certainly is not at the level of a panic attack. However, I reasoned that exposure therapy, a demonstrated treatment used to treat phobias, panic disorders, and other conditions, might help with a “softer” issue.

There are various types of exposure therapy. My plan is for “in vivo exposure,” basically forcing my butt out the door and into a nice happy hour venue with an age appropriate (loosely defined) clientele.

Exposure therapy may be combined with relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety and to help the individual associate the targeted activity or situation with relaxation. A nice glass or two of wine works well in the Nadia version of this technique.

Exposure therapy à la Nadia has another element, which I’m calling The Back Story. The Back Story is the story you tell yourself about a situation to help you deal with it. When you play that role, like the award-winning actress that you are, it’s easier to cope.

So if I tell myself that I’m visiting DC and don’t know anyone here, I feel more comfortable doing things solo. It sounds crazy but it seems to work. I am much more at ease going solo when travelling so an inventive Back Story helps me channel that comfort level in my hometown.

To date, I’ve had four solo bar outings (no friends accompanying me, no wing women etc.). And it has pretty much been a bust – other than having a nice glass of wine and delicious appetizers. I’ve talked to the bar wait staff and in one case discussed the food with two married men. But I have either picked a bad time (the bar is deserted or so crowded that strategic seating choices are limited) or a bad bar (in terms of clientele). And I still feel awkward when I go. But practice makes perfect (cliché happiness) and I plan to keep trying.

Maybe one day I’ll actually meet an eligible man at a happy hour.

How’s your search going?

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Offline Dating and the Promise of the Singlepin

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I have many complaints about the online dating world. Problems abound, including catfishing and extreme window-shopping.

No surprise – I’m not the only one feeling frustrated by the virtual world. Singletons around the globe are finding it difficult to meet quality matches through the various sites and apps. And they’re taking action.

Let’s chow down on some summertime crunchy noodle salad and review the evidence:

*Rob, a single man in New Zealand, recently posted an “Off-Line” Dating Sign/Want-Ad in hopes of meeting a “fun, adventurous and gorgeous lady.”

Rob

*In a counter-move to online dating, a wearable Singlepin launched in the U.K. The pin identifies the wearer as a single person open to meeting and connecting with other singles.

*An increasing number of daters are supplementing online dating with offline dating or switching to meeting and pursuing their matches in real life.

Of these three examples, I’m most intrigued by Rob in New Zealand and the Singlepin. I don’t know how to find Rob (though an investigative trip to New Zealand would be wonderful). I was able to track down artist Dianne Harris, the inventor of the Singlepin, in England.

“Singlepin represents real life connection and is a reaction to online dating,” wrote Harris in an email. “(It’s) a wearable icon for people to instantly connect and recognize each other.”

“Singlepin is a very good ice breaker,” added Harris, “and (it) gives people an excuse to talk to each other – in reality!”

“Online dating has gone one step too far and there are thousands and thousands of people disillusioned by it and (they) are now finding meeting people in reality very hard,” she said.

Harris was inspired to develop the pin after hearing about the many negative experiences online daters were having. “Why should we continue to put up with being ‘catfished,’ lied to or misled?” she asked in an article in The Telegraph.

Thousands of Singlepins have been sold since the unisex sterling silver jeweled icon debuted for £15.00 last February.   A portion of the sales profits will be donated to The British Heart Foundation, said Harris.

What happened as a result of these purchases? Lots of dates are being reported, said Harris, but with only a few months since launch, it’s too soon for marriage announcements.

The pin has not launched in the U.S. but it’s available via the website: http://bit.ly/29Lwmtn.  I think we need the Singlepin in America and I plan to wear one. It’s a real-life alternative to my fantasy wearable tech device, the Attracto Band-Ring.

Would you wear a Singlepin? Let me know!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Serendipity, Tiny Things, and Facebook

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I’m a big believer in serendipity — something good like a meet-cute happening by chance. It comes with the hopeless romantic territory of my mind. I love every movie that explores the issue of serendipity, including its namesake film.

Serendipity relates to my theory of tiny things making big differences. Am I confusing you? Eat something before you faint and all will become clear.

Here’s what got me thinking about this issue. In my quest to say yes to fun and to “get out there,” I recently went to a jazz concert with a gal pal. We learned about this concert from a DC jazz events newsletter.

After the concert, we approached the newsletter writer (let’s call him Mr. B) and had a nice chat. He introduced us to the singer and star of the show. Mr. B’s love of the genre makes him a one-man jazz PR machine and he seems to know everyone connected with music in the DC metropolitan area.

When it was time to leave, Mr. B suggested I friend him on Facebook.   (No, he’s married; this is not where I’m going with this.)

It’s time to think of Facebook in a new way. Many dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel use Facebook friends and the connections of Facebook friends as the fodder for your potential matches. These Facebook connections make up a good number of the guys or gals you will be asked to swipe or select.

A new Facebook friend becomes not only a social media connection but also the possible entrée to the love of your life. When I was married and later when I was newly single, I didn’t devote much time or energy to Facebook. Now, not only do I care about this blog’s Facebook page but I also care about my personal Facebook page. The reasons are two-fold – to stay in touch with real life and potential real life friends AND to open the door to more matches.

After I got home from the concert, I sent a friend request to Mr. B. He accepted a couple of hours later. The next day, when I went on Tinder, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel, I was pleased to see a bigger than usual crop of matches (many with a connection to Mr. B.)

I matched on Tinder with the head of a high school music program. We haven’t messaged each other yet…but that’s par for the course.

The key take away from this post is that a new Facebook friend can indirectly –through dating apps — open up your dating possibilities. Facebook can also be a direct link to love. You may have heard about people who have connected on Facebook and found new or renewed romance.

No, Mark Zuckerberg did not pay me to write this blog post. But if you are on Facebook-based dating apps, be more proactive about acquiring new Facebook friends (reach out to your real life friends) – even if you never post updates or look at your newsfeed. It’s a tiny thing but it could make a big difference in your dating life.

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Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia