Dating Newbies: Top 10 Questions

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“I don’t know anything,” said my separated friend when I mentioned a date I had the previous day. She was not dating yet but looking ahead to that day when her divorce would be final. “Who pays?” she asked. “What about the first kiss? What do you say when you want to end the date?” She sighed, “It all seems so difficult.”

For long-time marrieds going through a divorce or experiencing life after the death of a spouse, dating in 2018 can be a culture shock. Here’s a short guide for dating newbies with answers to the top 10 questions.

Let’s discuss the answers over some of Ellie Krieger’s creamy Parmesan spring vegetable skillet. Have two helpings – this is a long post.

Q: I joined a couple of dating sites and started communicating with a couple of guys. One of them asked me to dinner but I thought a coffee date was what people usually did. What should I do? Also, what about checking out the guy online before I meet him?

A: For your first date, it’s best to plan something that takes no more than an hour.* If you are not enjoying the date, you don’t want to be stuck. My favorite first date is meeting for a happy hour drink, appetizer optional. Wine or a cocktail helps with nerves and a drink is time limited. If you’re having a great time, you can always extend into dinner or a stroll outside. A coffee date can work as well – or even meeting for a walk in a public place.

See my posts on dating security for guidance on checking out an online connection before you meet. Update to previous posts on security: Thanks to the recent Facebook controversies, searching for someone’s phone number in the Facebook search bar is no longer an option.

*I break the no meal rule for men who drive a long distance to meet me. I know I’ll have to stick it out even if there is no attraction. However, I also will leave at any point on a date if the guy is rude, crude, or not a nice dude (apologies for shameless rhyming).

Q: How can I gracefully end a date with a guy I realize I’m not interested in?

A: Think about an ending that works well for your situation. The friend I mentioned earlier has three children at home. She has a built in excuse, “I need to get home to my kids.”

Here are some exit lines I have used:
*I’m dog sitting and need to go walk or feed the dog
*I have people coming for dinner and need to go prep
*Sorry but I need to leave (with no further explanation offered).

You could also arrange for a rescue by a friend or relative. He or she can text you 45 minutes into the date. You can then say, “Something has come up and I’m sorry but I need to leave.” Feel free to embellish on the reason – crisis at home, work, etc. These are what I call harmless white lies.

Q: What about paying? What if I want to leave before the check arrives?

A: When my date asks for the check, I’ll offer to help pay. He may say, “I’ll cover it” or he may take you up on your offer.

Perhaps you want to leave before your date asks for the check. If this is the case, give your reason (see above) and ask, “Can I give you something for the check?”

I have been on dates where I left after one drink but the guy stayed on to have dinner. *If I know in the first 10 seconds that I have no interest in a person, I make sure I don’t order any food and stick to one drink so I can leave after a short time.

Q: What about the first kiss?

A: I’ve covered greetings and endings in this blog. I prefer to hug hello and if I feel inclined will fend off a handshake and turn it into a hug.

There’s a whole spectrum of guy behaviors re: that first kiss. Some kiss you hello, some kiss you at the end of the first date, and some men kiss you in the middle of the first date. If he doesn’t kiss you, he may be shy or unsure of your interest.
On a few occasions I have made the first move to kiss. It’s always nice when the kiss is mutually initiated (the magnet effect)…and well executed. Tip #keep breath mints in your purse and your car.

Q: What if he asks me out on date #2 while we’re still on date #1?

A: I was thrown the first time this happened to me. I wasn’t sure about the guy who asked so I said maybe to his “can we get together again?” Truly a wishy-washy response but sometimes that’s the best you can do. If you want to see Mr. X again, there really isn’t an awkward moment. Just say yes.

Q: How soon after the first date can I expect him to contact me? Should I initiate contact?

A: Timing of communication is another issue with a wide range of behaviors. Sometimes a guy will call or text you within an hour after you leave a date; or you might not hear from Mr. X until the next day. The sooner you hear from him, the more likely he’s into you but a 24 hour delay doesn’t mean he’s not interested. Life is like that.

If you had a good time on the date and liked Mr. X, I think it’s fine to text him a few hours after your encounter or the next morning. I wouldn’t wait too long. All you need to say is “It was great meeting you” OR “I had a good time yesterday. Thanks for the drink.” If it’s your style, include an emoji. I like winks and smiley faces with sunglasses. If you have shared a kiss or three at the end of the date, you could use a smiley face blowing a kiss.

Bonus re: communication:
When you are communicating with a guy, be aware of any change in frequency or tone of communication. A change could be a signal that he is withdrawing. Similarly, if you feel a need to pull back, slow your responses and keep them briefer. Sometimes a slow fade away is preferable to a text, phone call or email to say, “This is over.”

Q: What if the first date went well, but there was no chemistry? Should I go out with him again?

A: Some dating experts say chemistry doesn’t always occur right away but often surfaces after you know someone better. Since I have experienced a delayed chemistry phenomenon, I might go out with a guy a second time for an attraction check. People are often nervous on the first date and they may not be their “best selves.”

Date #2 is often a reality check. I have been attracted to a guy on a first date but when I see him again I wonder “What was I thinking?”

Q: I went out with this guy (insert various number of dates) and it looks like we’re likely to have sex in the near future. I’m nervous about a lot of things – STDs, the way I look without clothes, timing.

A: Here’s the teen-like déjà vu moment when you’ve been in a long marriage or relationship and haven’t thought about STDs in a couple of decades. Be a scout and always be prepared. Buy condoms in case you have a moment and he doesn’t have any (shop on Amazon if you’re wary of running into neighbors at the drug store).

When the topic of sex comes up, have a discussion about using protection and/or getting tested for STDs. Ignore “I got tested two months ago.” Suggest to Mr. X that you both get tested and show each other the results. You need to see that piece of paper!

Ignore: “I give blood so I get tested frequently.” Giving blood does not test for 100% of STDS (chlamydia is not part of the blood donation test, per my gynecologist). Again, you need to see something in writing and the test needs to be done after you have this talk. Use a condom until the results are in or abstain.

I find that women are more concerned about body image than men. Male readers, feel free to disagree about this. Low lighting and candles may ease some self-consciousness and add to the romance.

Oh, and that moment when you’re lighting the candles for your first post separation or post divorce encounter might be the time to say, “It’s been awhile” to your partner. If you’re both newbies, this may be a shared issue. Just stating this fact will make you feel better and explain any nervousness.

Timing of sex: This is another “huge range” issue. A couple might have sex on date #1 or date #15. And, yes, there does seem to be something about expectations and date #3. However, do what feels right for you.

Q: I’m nervous about online dating. Can’t I just meet guys in real life?

A: Yes, of course you can and should try to meet guys in real life. See blog tags meeting men in real life and meeting men in the wild for suggestions on how to meet guys offline. Consider real life tactics and online dating. Neither method is perfect but the more things you do, the greater your chance of success.

Q: Any other general guidance?

A: You’re going to make “mistakes” or what I term “recall cringe moments.” Those are the moments when you think back to what you said or did on an encounter and ask yourself, “How could I have said or done that?” or you think “I was too sarcastic” or — insert any of a number of possibilities.

You’re human and you’re learning to navigate a new world. You will do or say things you’ll regret. That’s okay. Mr. X is making mistakes as well.

The more experiences you have – good or bad – the more you’ll understand what you do and don’t want in a relationship or partner. Along the way, you’ll discover all kinds of things about yourself and claim or reclaim your female power. You go girl.

Send any other questions my way.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO
Nadia

When Standing Someone Up is Fair Play

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As much as I hate the idea of standing someone up on a date, I wish I had “stood up” a recent Plenty of Fish (POF) match instead of cancelling our planned meeting. It would have been a fitting response to his subterfuge.

Curious about yet another example of #ShittyMaleBehavior? Join me in some spaghetti squash shrimp scampi while I recount this tale.

If you’re on POF, you know the drill. You scroll through the Meet Me feature and say yes or no to an individual based on photos and profile. Sometimes you want to meet someone who doesn’t return the desire and vice versa.

Mr. M and I had a mutual match. I almost didn’t say yes to him. His profile said he was in the area for a couple of years — on “loan” from his university while engaged in work in the DC area. I worried about the possible lack of long term potential but decided to go for it. My philosophy is to be open as much as possible. Anything can happen and someone’s plans can change for the right person.

I liked his profile, which mentioned he had been widowed for 3 years and missed having a companion.

I assumed Mr. M was likely relatively new to online dating. He sent a nice, personalized message to me through the site and asked if I was free this weekend to see if we had chemistry. I always like when a man suggests an in person meeting soon after matching.

I told him I was booked until Monday and we had a little back and forth on venue and time. His car was back in his home state and he relied on metro and Lyft or Uber for transportation. I didn’t like the idea of dating someone without a car. It puts a greater transport burden on me and dammit I like to be picked up when I’m comfortable sharing my home address with someone. Anyway, once again I decided to be open to a less than perfect situation and suggested a venue convenient to metro.

When we had a solid plan, I let Mr. M know that I like to exchange cell numbers after agreeing to meet someone. I didn’t share mine at that point since a major goal was to search his number to ensure my security and verify his identity.

Mr. M sent his number and said he was excited to meet me. A straight Google search turned up nothing. However, searching his phone number in the Facebook search box pulled his profile up. All the basic details in his profile were confirmed. But there were recent photos of him with a woman and comments from friends implied they were in a relationship. When I went to the woman’s profile, I saw photos of the lovely Valentine’s Day bouquet Mr. M gave her. There was lots of evidence of their relationship, including her comment that she’s so lucky to have the love of Mr. M.

Insert random swear words – all will work. My disappointment was matched by my compassion for this lovely, accomplished woman who did not know what her partner was up to some 600 miles away.

Here’s what I wrote to Mr. M:

I’m going to have to cancel our meeting. It appears you are in a relationship. Most women who are online will “research” a potential date to ensure safety (as much as possible) and avoid someone who misrepresents their status. Perhaps you are in an open relationship and if that is the case you should state it in your profile.

On reflection, this was too nice of a message. And it was later when I was recounting the story to my son that I realized I should have let Mr. M make the hour trek on 2 subway lines to meet me tomorrow night, although I would not have shown up.

After I saw that Mr. M read my message, I blocked him. All traces of Mr. M are now gone except for the screen shots I took of his profile. They live on in the cloud with all of the other misbehaving men in my photo gallery.

Cue It’s Only a Paper Moon, Bill Charlap — Live at the Village Vanguard. It’s a good soundtrack for a disappointing post Valentine’s Day non-date.

Takeaway messages for my reader daters: Type someone’s cell number into Facebook to check them out. Consider standing up a guy who has behaved badly. He deserves it.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Dear Nadia, I Have a Dating Dilemma

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Decisions, decisions. Dating is fraught with judgment calls, gut calls, and dilemmas. How do you check out a guy you met in real life? When should you let a guy pick you up at your place or drop by to see you? When do you have sex?

It’s good to talk about these issues with friends and sometimes friends ask me for advice. So, sit back and try some goat cheese and arugula pasta salad while I share a recent exchange with a gal pal. Identifying details have been altered for privacy.

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Dear Nadia, 

As I mentioned, I met this guy, Max, last Saturday while on a Meetup bike ride. We hung out after the ride over lunch – and had a really nice time. I gave him my e-mail and phone number and he emailed me this week. 

Max lives in Baltimore but will be driving through my area this Friday to leave his dog with his sister since he’s going out of town. He suggested swinging by my place on his way. I told him that I live in Kensington. Max works for the Department of Homeland Security and has a high security clearance – so he probably knows my address, favorite color, and everything else about me!

Do you have any good background checking tools? I know his full name, age, and address, which check out, but don’t know anything else. DHS doesn’t have a detailed staff directory online. It seems a bit preliminary to have him come to my house, although maybe he’s trying to make it easy for me. I could meet him at a restaurant or park since he’ll have his dog with him (a yellow lab, I believe).

Aargh…when did dating get so hard?!

Lily

Dear Lily,

Yes, dating IS hard…but in fact you met Max the old fashioned way, which makes it a bit simpler.  For instance, you have some good basic info that has checked out!  To add to the information you have, you could use some of the same tactics I use with an online match when I have very little to go on.

Checking out a guy you met in real life

You could run his Meetup picture through Google image search and see what pops up.  If you haven’t already done so, I suggest separate web searches of his name, phone number, and email address.

Another tactic is checking out Max’s public Facebook page. I think FB collects info on someone’s page visitors so at some point Max might see you in his “People You May Know” alerts but that could happen in other ways too. You could also temporarily change your privacy settings on LinkedIn and anonymously check out his profile.

The purpose of all of this investigation is not to find out every last detail about him but to make sure there are no red flags. Once I have enough information to know that a guy is who he says he is, and there are no concerns, I stop sleuthing.   Too much probing can spoil the all important fun and discovery phase of a relationship. It really is best to learn about a person organically in a face-to-face encounter.

I have used Intelius and Spokeo to run preliminary background checks on matches.  Neither one of these search engines is perfect in terms of accuracy and depth of information but they have proven useful on occasion. I let my subscriptions to these services lapse because I found I could gather most information on my own for free.  I also realized that my gut is fairly accurate!

If marital status is a concern, you could search for evidence of his divorce. Most states have free, public divorce records.

Some additional resources that are likely not necessary in your case:

*Scam digger picture search

*You can check his email address on this romance scam site

When should you let a guy pick you up for a date?

Since you asked for advice, I’ll put on my Jewish mother hat to say that on a few occasions I have been okay with a guy picking me up for a second date at my house but I usually wait until the third date. Sometimes the second date is a deal-breaker and I want to be able to leave if it’s not going well.

I make the “pick me up” decision on a case-by-case basis. This decision is based on how much I know/have found out about a man and my gut impression of the guy.

So, if you feel comfortable, you could certainly say okay to him dropping by. Or you could just offer to meet him at the park or for a drink.

However, at this point, I feel he should ask you out – not just drop by on his way to somewhere else. It feels like he’s doing what’s convenient  – not making a concerted effort to see you and take you out!

Dating computer experts and guys with security clearances

The other issue is dating someone who has a high security clearance or is a computer expert and could do a better background check on you than you could on him! I have gone out with some guys who fall into that category. I never had evidence that they out-sleuthed me but it’s entirely possible. I tell myself that, like me, they want to know whom they’re dealing with…and then I forget about their possible channeling of Sherlock Holmes.

For future reference, here are links to some of my blog posts on security in online dating:

A brief encounter with a catfisher

Catfishing and lessons from a millennial

A bad bagel on Coffee Meets Bagel

Tips for safe online dating

Dating tips and tricks

Dating safety, security, and truth-in-advertising

Keep me posted on Max, Lily!

Hugs,

Nadia

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Dear readers, send me your dating dilemmas and I’ll try to respond in a future blog post!

Until next week, happy dating or not dating!

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

Anatomy of a Brief Encounter with a Catfisher

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The Bumble alerts provided the first clue that something might be fishy (as in catfishy) with my new Bumble match. Although his profile said his name was Bill, the alerts referred to him as Evans. I filed that away in my increasingly dating- weary brain while I juggled playing “let’s get to know each other” with impersonating Nancy Drew.

Let’s chow down on some shrimp scampi while reviewing the evidence.

As soon as I matched with Bill last Saturday morning, I followed the Nadia Standard Operating Procedure (NSOP) – a reverse image search of all of his photos on my phone using the Veracity app. There were no matches but that didn’t mean Bill/Evans was legitimate.

We texted and I learned he was a widower. As I’ve written before, catfishers/scammers often say they are widowers. I filed this second piece of evidence away.

After I got another Bumble alert announcing a message from “Evans,” I decided to ask this guy for his last name.

Side note: Lately I have been asking for the last names of any guys I suspect might have a false profile. The men always give me a name (real or not) that I can then research. So far, every suspect dude has turned out to be a scammer that I then report and unmatch.

Dear readers, if you’re unsure about a guy and decide to ask for his last name, here’s a suggested script in case he asks for yours: I’m asking for your last name for safety and security reasons but I don’t give out my last name until after I have met someone in person. If the guy makes it an issue, I say good riddance!

Back to the story: Bill gave me his last name – and it wasn’t Evans. I now had a full name to search. I was particularly motivated since Bill wanted to know what led to my late-in-life divorce. This is not a question to be addressed via text before you have met someone.

I searched Bill’s full name and immediately found his Facebook page – with one of his Bumble profile photos as his main — and only — photo.

Here were the final pieces of incriminating evidence: Bill’s Facebook page was virtually empty except for the one photo, which was loaded a week ago. Where does Bill live? His Bumble profile said Arlington, VA (a suburb not too far from me). Facebook, however, showed his location as San Francisco. The only personal information about Bill was his marital status – widowed — and his employment — “self employed.” There was no mention of the job listed on his Bumble page. Bill had only one Facebook page like – a media company called, Faith, Family America (this would be enough to turn me off regardless of his status as a catfisher).

My work was almost done. I reported Bill to Bumble and unmatched him (after taking a few screen shots of our exchanges to use as notes for this blog post).

It was only 1 in the afternoon but I felt the need for a glass of wine.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia