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

 

 

App-less April: Nadia Style

blog pix app-less April

 

Did you know this is App-less April?

For the second April in a row, Bustle, an online women’s magazine, is challenging readers and staff to delete their dating apps and meet people in real life.

It’s no surprise that online dating frustrates daters of all ages. Whether you’re using apps or websites, most singletons would prefer to meet people in real life.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know about my challenges – from finding men I like enough to date to revoking, ghosting, catfishing, breadcrumbing and just plain crummy behavior.

So, I’ve decided to embark on my own version of App-less April. Won’t you join me in a send-off meal of Tori Avey’s spice-broiled salmon with green apple salad?

This coming Monday morning, I will delete all of my apps and hide my dating profiles for a week (why lose out on the heavy Sunday activity?) After seven days, I will reassess this plan and decide whether I should continue.

Why this short trial period and not an extended detox? Despite its many problems, online dating gives me hope. Every couple of days there’s a new romantic possibility or two. The hope that one of these prospects will be “the one” keeps me going.

There are lots of resources with suggestions on how and where to meet men in real life. The big question is: Will I be able to do more than I am already doing (which apparently is not enough)?

When you rely on apps and dating sites, it’s easy to not push yourself to go out solo, or walk up to that cute stranger. Will knowing that I have no back-up plan waiting for me on my computer or phone motivate me to do more and take more risks? Tune in to future posts for the answer.

For inspiration, I’m ruminating over a recent online dating experience. Encounters like this are not unusual (although I find this one super weird) – and that’s the problem.

Mr. M., an interesting and quirky guy from Match, sends me a good first message. He clearly read my profile and his email points out what we have in common.

His message ends with:

“I am geographically close by to meet up for coffee some time. It would be a pleasure to meet you.”

I write back with an equally profile-specific email and comment that I’d like to meet for coffee (or wine) too and that I’m free this coming Tuesday.

I don’t hear back for a week but see that Mr. M. is online sporadically. I forget about him and conclude that Mr. M. is another non-responder who has lost interest.

Eight days later, he writes again:

“Sorry about missing the chance to meet with you this past Tuesday evening. No events. Just my own stupidity.

I would like to have the chance for us to meet. I am not a wine drinker. Coffee or hot tea is good by me. So. if you know of a place that serves both, we can both be pleased. 

I am free this Tuesday; but have a speech to hear on Monday, and a film on Wednesday.

I hope to hear back from you.” 

Since I’m a nice person, I decide to give Mr. M. another chance.  I write back noting that I am also free on Tuesday and suggest a place we could meet.

Once again, Mr. M. fails to respond to me. This time he is not online. One week goes, by, two weeks, and then three weeks. Still no response; and he is not online. I fear he is dead or hospitalized. With the few clues I have, I search for him online but I don’t know his last name or phone number (I planned to ask for the latter before meeting).

Then, out of the blue, I see that he viewed me. I’m curious as hell and want to know what happened. At the same time, I realize that the only way I would consider meeting him would be if he had an incredible excuse to end all excuses.

I write Mr. M.:

Hi, At this juncture, I’m curious about what happened to you since you never responded to me. Just trying to make sense of this crazy online dating world and an abundance of mixed messages.

As the more jaded of you have already guessed, he didn’t respond. He’s online frequently now.

What are your suspicions about Mr. M.? Pick one:

  1. Married?
  2. Girlfriend?
  3. Insane?
  4. Typical rude dater?
  5. All of the above?

None of these answers would be wrong. And that’s why I’m going App-less for 7 days.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Update on Dating Sites and an Old School Breakup

blog post penguin love 2

There are dating sites and apps that I like (tolerate may be a better word), ones I used to like but now can’t stand, and sites that never worked for me (so I don’t like them).

Let’s review while munching on pasta primavera with grilled veggies.

OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) are now in my “can’t stand” category. The reason? They are both overrun with catfishers and scammers. These sites worked for me when I first used them. I even had one of my 3-month relationships with a guy I met on OkCupid. But over time I noticed an increase in members with false or stolen profiles. It got to the point where almost no one I matched with on OkCupid was genuine. I’m not sure why this site above all others contains so many scammers (at least in my dating pool). Perhaps the idea of a free dating venue appeals to guys with less than honorable intentions.

Free may also be the problem with Coffee Meets Bagel. I miss my daily bagel from CMB but more often than not that bagel was bad. It must be a common problem since a number of people find their way to this blog by searching for Coffee Meets Bagel scammers.

I deleted both OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel and now spend less time deleting dishonorable daters and more time on general whining about dating.

An abundance of catfishers is not the only reason to dislike a dating site or app. EHarmony was not my cup of tea, coffee, or glass of wine. After filling out the endless Meyers-Briggs-like questionnaire, I ended up with a pool of boring and geographically incompatible matches. And the inability to search for matches on my own felt very paternalistic (though Coffee Meets Bagel also prohibits searching of members’ profiles).

JDate is another site that never worked for me – and I tried it twice. I wasn’t attracted to anyone in my dating pool. It might be worth trying JDate again since new people are always joining dating sites.  Unless a site is poorly constructed, I will usually consider a second or third membership in a site.

Our Time is now on my “good” list after an unsuccessful first round 18 months ago. I classify a site as good if there are a reasonable number of appealing matches who reach out to me or respond to my outreach and I actually go on dates with some of them.

I like OurTime despite a recent “old school” breakup with a match — if you can call it a breakup after two dates. I’m still confused by it and that’s not atypical in the online dating world. You may never know the real reason why someone doesn’t want to see you again. In this case, at least the man gets points for phoning me to tell me he didn’t think we were a “fit.” The only reason he actually cited was the 1-hour geographic distance between our homes. I was surprised by the break-up – first of all because he had the decency to phone me but also since he appeared to be fairly smitten. Perhaps I’ll probe this interaction more in a future post…and after I have completed a wonderful online class on how to be a human lie detector.

My other go-to dating staples at the moment are Zoosk, Plenty of Fish, Match, and Bumble.

I’m less enthusiastic about Tinder, JSwipe, Hinge, and Fitness Singles but hold out hope that one of these venues might be worthwhile. The Clover app, on the other hand, is almost worthless as a source of reasonable matches and I’ll probably delete it soon.

You may think I’m on too many dating sites/apps. However, I look at online dating as a numbers game and the more times I present myself to eligible men, the more likely I’ll find Mr. Right. In the meantime, I’m also putting myself in “real life” situations and activities that not only interest me but also have the potential to expand my romantic horizons.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Top 10 Dating Obstacles

dating obstacles

If you follow Olympics-related news, you likely read that obstacle course racing may become an Olympic sport.

Coincidentally – and despite having some romance possibilities — I have recently been thinking about dating obstacles.

Let’s ponder this issue while indulging in a lunch fit for an athlete or dater in training.

To appreciate the variety of dating obstacles, it’s worth a quick review of obstacle course racing (OCR).

According to Wikipedia, OCR is “a sport in which a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges that are in the form of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and the races are designed to result in mental and physical collapse.”

Note the reference to mental and physical collapse, which I bolded. I find this is a good analogy for the mental burnout that can result from the trials of modern dating.

Listed below, for your reading pleasure, sympathy, and empathy are the top 10 online and app dating obstacles:

*Finding someone you like and are attracted to

To do so, you must wade through a series of profiles with awful photos, poor to nonexistent writing skills, and such descriptors as “married” and “God-fearing.”

*Finding someone who also likes you

Hopefully your retooled, now excellent profile and carefully chosen photos serve you well.

*Connecting

Perhaps you view Mr. Z’s profile. Mr. Z then views your profile and photos. Does he write to you? Do you write to him? If neither one of you reaches out – even if someone has “favorited” or “winked” at the other person, call it a lost cause.

*Moving beyond the emails and texts

If you start corresponding with someone, will you get beyond this form of communication? Will you speak on the phone or arrange to meet? Or, will he or you just stop writing?

*Having a phone call

If you end up having a phone conversation, will it be good and balanced or will one of you indulge in a monologue?

*Moving beyond the phone call

Assuming you have a phone conversation, does he initiate an in-person meeting? Do you want to meet him or did he say something that turned you off?

*Scheduling

If an in-person meeting/date is proposed, can you find a day and time to meet? Does he live an hour away? Can you both find a convenient time and location?

*Follow-through and waiting

Perhaps you have a tentative date scheduled but lately he’s been online quite a bit and you start to wonder if the date will be finalized. You worry that he’s window-shopping for his best option (as he sees it).

Do you hang in, keep busy, and keep looking (the old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” cliché)? This is a particularly challenging obstacle. With any luck, your date will be confirmed and finalized.

*In-person meeting

If you are finally on an in-person meeting/date, is there chemistry and connection? Does he look like his photos? Do you? Is there give and take during the conversation? Flirting? Real listening?

What’s his body language like? Does he dive into inappropriate topics such as the terms of his divorce, previous relationships, or recent surgeries?

Do you want to kiss him? Is he a decent kisser?

*Second date

Was there enough good in the first date to consider a second one? Does he text you after date #1? When/if will he ask you out? Will you go out with him again?

If everything fizzles at this point, and there is no second date, sit down and rest. You may be exhausted from running and leaping over obstacles. But don’t give up. Keep at it.

Eventually (and it might be a long eventually), you’ll ace this almost Olympic event and go on that second, third, fourth, and fifth date….

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

 

 

 

The Great American Dating Profile

Woman writing her dating profile

Many writers dream that one day they’ll write the great American novel. I dream about writing the great American dating profile. And why not? I have a few writing chops. The question is: Can I translate those skills into the greatest dating profile of all time? Sit with me and let’s discuss over some crostini with pea pesto ricotta spread. Pair with a crisp pinot grigio.

A couple of weeks ago I realized my dating profile needed retooling. I’ve written 4 or 5 different versions of my profile since I started online dating. In some cases, I approached the task as a profile tear down, building it back up in a new way; at other times I did a modest renovation. I like to think that the latest one is always the best so far.

Side note: More minute changes such as updating “last book read” should be done biweekly or monthly. I know from personal experience that when I make a tiny change in my profile (sometimes just changing a comma to a semicolon), the dating bots highlight my effort to their male subscribers and I get an uptick in views and messages. Try it and see if you notice an increase in interest.

I decided it was time for a tear down followed by all new construction. As with most challenges, I began with some quiet thinking time. I asked myself, what are the most important qualities that I seek in a man? I then thought about my attributes. Both inquiries turned into lists. I then reviewed a dating profile of a 60-something woman who had great success with online dating.

It was time for research and my friend Google. You can easily pull up between 5 and 7 million hits by searching for how to write a great dating profile or how to write a great dating profile for a woman.

One of my best resources was actually a scientific study published in 2015 in the British Medical Journal. This study was a meta-analysis, a study of studies, on online dating. My favorite part of the paper, other than the findings, was the Acknowledgements section: The authors would like to thank the potential dates who turned down one of us repeatedly, encouraging us to think about the effectiveness of online dating.

Ha! You’ve got to love scientists with a sense of humor.

This study, combined with several articles, and some reflection on articles and books I’d read in the last couple of years led me to identify some principles of the written portion of good profiles that I wanted to capture in my new version.

Second side note: I’m not focusing on dating profile photos in this blog post, but they are critically important to your dating success. Make sure your main pictures are current and consider having a professional photographer. Read about my photo shoot.

Good Dating Profiles (for women):

*Use a playful, positive screen name. Try to make it similar to the screen names of men you find attractive.

*Pick a screen name that starts with a letter early in the alphabet so it pops up earlier in a dating site search.

*Choose simple language for your headline.

*Your profile should be 70% about you and 30% about your ideal match.

*Emphasize character traits and hobbies that are people and value-centric. Focus on likeability, not academic achievement. (As I had to tell one guy, this is a dating site, not LinkedIn.)

*Use words such as romance, heart, and love (even if love is in reference to an activity you enjoy).

*Show emotional availability.

*Show your passion and what excites you.

*Make your first few sentences stand out.

*I like to have a theme for each profile (e.g., music, cooking, outdoor activities, etc.).

*Men prefer women whose physical fitness activities are yoga, aerobics, and the gym. (Scratch that reference to power lifting – but continue to power lift since men will love the result.)

After internalizing all of these principles, I crafted a new profile and screen name and rotated my primary photo from my last professional shoot.

I’m on several sites so I’ve been working my way through each of them, deleting the old profile and inserting the new one. The sites always take a little time to approve any revisions so each time I update my profile, I patiently wait for my “rebirth.”

The result of my effort? I have received more views and more emails. Unfortunately, it’s not a magic fix.

The key is to have that new and great profile available online when the “one” joins the site or happens to be searching and finds me.

I’m ready to be found.

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Resources:

The Daily Beast

British Medical Journal

DoctorNerdLove

Match

Zoosk

Business Insider

Huffington Post

Practical Happiness

 

 

 

Dating Attention Deficit Syndrome: A New Epidemic?

blog-pix-dating-attention-deficit-syndrome

I am convinced that a significant number of men on online dating sites are suffering from a severe case of DADD — Dating Attention Deficit Syndrome. Women share this affliction but I suspect there are fewer of them and that they have a milder version of DADD.

Let’s discuss over Anthony Bourdain’s omelet with salmon and chives.

You have heard me rant before about the window-shopping or candy store experience of online dating. A recent virtual encounter on Zoosk triggered the naming of a real affliction I call DADD. (Apologies to all the fathers.)

DADD is backed up by research. A 2015 Pew Research study found that one-third of people who used online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on these sites. I imagine these people emailing and texting ad nauseam until the end of time.

Case in point: A recent 10-day text exchange I had with Mr. F from Zoosk. I kept encouraging an in-person meeting but Mr. F was equally adept at promising and delaying.

For example, in a discussion of food and cooking, I suggested we get a drink to plan a salmon throwdown. Mr. F liked the idea and we continued to volley about this and other topcs — on the site and then offline (using my Google voice number).

Mr. F began sending me a daily 5 p.m. text asking how my day was. Sadly, he failed to advance the discussion significantly so that we could learn something substantive about each other. I continued to pursue an in-person meeting. And the kicker? He was constantly online. Every time I went on Zoosk to check messages, I got a notification that my connection, Mr. F, was on the site.

Finally, I’d had enough. At this point, the flirting by text lost its appeal. After a weekend of no contact (although Mr. F was certainly online), I was convinced he was either playing at dating and never intended to meet or he had lined up dates with so many other women that I wasn’t a priority. When he sent his usual 5 p.m. text on the Monday after the no-contact weekend, I decided to rebuff him in a snarky way.   See below for the end of our “relationship.”

text-with-frank-for-blog

My last “Ciao” was cut off in the screen shot.

As I suspected (and hoped), my response ended this merry go round. When you’re pissed off, having the last word is deeply satisfying!

Mr. F wasn’t the first man with DADD I have encountered. Some have admitted to me they know they are online too much. Even if they meet some of the women they encounter, they can’t seem to stop looking for the next best Ms. Right.

Hope we all find someone who has kicked DADD – or never had it.

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