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Timing is Everything

ID-10087418I was in fifth grade when I first spotted him, playing baseball, his golden-blond hair shining in the sun.

I was thirteen when we first “went together,” which consisted primarily of him riding his bike over to my house in the afternoon (again with that sun in the hair thing).

I was a junior in high school when we went on our first real date.

I was a junior in college when I stood on my mother’s front porch late at night and explained to him why it was finally over. I didn’t really believe it. He, apparently, did.

I was 48 the next time I saw him, standing in line at a gas station early on a Friday morning. Damn if his hair wasn’t still sparkling. (What the hell was up with that, anyway?)

This isn’t a story of lost love regained later in life. Whatever we shared across those early years, I wouldn’t call it love. I’ve no desire to recapture it; in fact, I didn’t speak to him in the gas station. He either didn’t see or didn’t recognize me. It really was over, that decades-past night on my mother’s porch.

Seeing him made me think, though.

The night I said goodbye, he’d taken me to see a house he was planning to buy. At 21, he was ready to get on with adult life. My senior year in college was on the horizon, followed by three years of law school and then some very long work hours while I got my legal practice off the ground. Our plans for the coming 3-5 years couldn’t have been more different, and there wasn’t any middle ground. He thought I’d “screwed around” in school long enough. I thought he was settling too easily for the same life we’d come from and a nice big tree in the front yard.

We took our separate world views and went our separate ways, and it was the right decision.

It’s ironic, though. That morning I saw him in the gas station line, it occurred to me that I was living the life he’d tried to push me toward…and had been, for many years. He’d just come to it on a very different timetable than I had.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Dogs on Dating Sites

No, I’m not talking about unattractive people who engage in online dating. I’m talking about actual canines in profile pictures and other photographs on dating sites.  And I’m talking about them mostly because, back in the day, Mike used to talk about them a lot. When I say “back in the day,” I mean when Mike was perusing dating sites for a life partner rather than being the old, happily settled guy he is today.

The dogs bugged him.

Dogs in dating site photos

I don’t like when people post pictures of their children on dating sites, but the dogs didn’t bother me. I assumed that most people were a little self-conscious posing for a dating site photo and wanted to make it look a bit more natural. But, the issue came up often enough that one day not long ago, I decided to experiment a bit.

I made this photo my main profile picture on a free online dating site.

Apparently, there’s something to the whole dog thing (or I have a remarkably unattractive chin), because overnight my “photo rating” jumped from 6.7 to 8.0.  I got a fresh flurry of messages, much like when I’d first signed up for the site.

I considered asking about the dog factor, but I didn’t do it. And, it turned out that I didn’t have to. Not long afterward, a woman posted a question very much like Mike’s in the forums.  In short, she wanted to know why guys were always posing for pictures with their dogs and their motorcycles.

The responses were mixed, but the most interesting referred to a purported study that showed that men were considered more likable and trustworthy when seen in the company of animals. This poster suggested that men in positions of power in business and politics often placed photos of themselves with dogs on display because it gave people a better impression of them.

So, what do you think? When you see a guy (or girl) pictured with a dog, does it change your view? Does it create a positive impression or make you question his/her judgment?

Within your area

Within your area

When we set up an online dating profile, we feel like we are telling the computer exactly what we are looking for.  We fill in spaces like “interested in” and within how many miles. Then we click some boxes to show our interests and feel like we will be matched with people who share common interests.  Our intent is also listed on there but normally as a drop-down box with just a few choices like “looking for a serious relationship”, “wants to date but nothing serious” or “looking for friends”.

Once we hit submit, we have the feeling that the computer is working hard to sort through the database, make connections in our common interests and narrow  down the results to a handful of carefully selected matches that should (if we filled everything out correctly) be perfect for us.  That’s how we would do it on our own, right?  Walk into a room and determine which potential mates are the right height and have the correct hair color and seem to be interested in the same things and wanting the same things out of life.  It would be helpful if we all had one of those inverted raindrop shaped red Google places things over our heads so we could tell how far everyone lived from us (maybe that will happen in the future).

The thing is (and you might want to sit down for this) what the computer actually does is nothing.  It doesn’t match you up with people who also like sky diving and long walks on the beach at sunset.  It doesn’t find people who are looking for the same type of relationship that you are.  In fact, the whole “within a 25 mile radius” thing is actually way more literal and less practical, it doesn’t factor into the equation that some of us have to actually drive on the roads and don’t have amphibious vehicles that can travel in a straight line over water or land.  Some of us don’t have a private helicopter either.

And yet, it works because (not in spite) of this.  It works by helping us get out of our own way.  We want someone who is tall but not so tall that we don’t fit together, attractive but not so attractive that we feel inferior and insecure, funny but can also be serious, adventurous but doesn’t take risks, is good with kids but doesn’t have any and is attentive but not clingy.

But, the online dating sites would go out of business if they showed us the blank screen that would appear if they actually LISTENED to all of those impossible criteria.  So, instead, they just show you everyone they have in your area and let you assume that (since online dating works for some people) there must be some complex matching algorithm going on behind the scenes that is finding your perfect match when all it’s really doing is removing YOUR complex algorithm and just introducing you to some new people.

Photo courtesy: Freelance-web-designer-developer.com

592062_15098459In her last post, Tiffany talks about meeting people without an agenda and I actually agree with her.  I’ll give you a minute to catch your breath.  I did kitchen and bath remodeling for many years and met people all the time.  Actually, I would show up on their doorstep with a sledge hammer and they would welcome me in like a long-lost relative.  Now, if you can have people welcome you into their home to destroy their bathroom, you can certainly approach them in a cafe and ask what they recommend.

My point is that people are friendly, for the most part.  And, if you’ve ever been stuck in traffic or had to wait in line for a meal or concert tickets, you know that there is no shortage of people.  People are everywhere.

Reading that post actually reminded me of a discussion I had with my girlfriend about our first date.  We met on an online dating site and she told me that she was nervous on our first date and was surprised to hear that I was not.  The truth is that a first date is nothing more than a meeting and I have meetings all the time.  There’s nothing really invested at that point. You have no idea if this is going to be a love interest, a friendship or someone you may never see again. So, why be nervous?

When going on a first date, I act the same as I would when I am going to meet with a client or have dinner with a relative.  I may be a little more excited about being on a date than meeting with someone whose bathroom I’m about to destroy but I’m not nervous.  If you approach “meeting people” with the same mindset that you approach your family, clients and co-workers, you’ll find that meeting people and talking to them is just another day at the office. 

Photo courtesy: asifthebes@sxc.hu

ID-10067389 One of the most common questions posed in dating site forums and conversation among singles is “Where do you meet people?”  The question seems silly–there are people everywhere–until you consider that what they’re really asking is, “Where do I meet single people of the opposite sex whom I’ll find attractive and want to date?”  That’s a tougher question, especially since most people seem to want to skip to that step without developing the social skills that make it natural to meet and interact with people.

The truth is, meeting people is easy.  I meet people everyday, everywhere I go.  I meet people at the gas station, at the beach, at the library, in the grocery store, walking my dog and at the post office.  Some of those people are “eligible” men.  Others are 12-year-old girls, old men, young women with children…all ages, sexes, shapes and sizes.  And that, I think, is exactly what makes it easy for me.

I often hear men ask how to “approach” an attractive woman in public, but I think if you’re asking that question, you’ve already created a lot of unnecessary complications for yourself.  You’re trying to determine before speaking whether she’s single.  You’re trying to decide whether she’ll be receptive.  You’re setting yourself up to feel rejected if she’s not.  All because you’re trying to work up an approach when all you really had to do was be friendly.

BE friendly, not ACT friendly.  Make natural conversation, NOT come up with an “effective” opener.  In short, treat the other person like a person who is worth saying hello to even if you’re not going to get a date out of it, NOT like a conquest.  Of course, that requires beginning to THINK of the other person as something other than a conquest.  A good first step is to be less discriminating about whom you talk to.  It might sound counter-intuitive, but if you have trouble talking to strangers, talk to more strangers. Talk to strangers you don’t have a stake in, where the pressure is off.  Talk to the grandmother in line behind you at Wal-Mart and the middle-aged man in the coffee shop at the bookstore.  

Do it for practice, because you’ll get comfortable talking to strangers and before long that pretty young woman at the next table will be just another one of the many people you casually converse with in public.  But also, do it because people are interesting.  You may be surprised to discover how many people are worth meeting, even if they don’t further your quest for a mate.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ID-10060832Not long ago, I was contacted by a scammer on a dating site.  No big news there, but what was interesting about this scammer was that I didn’t recognize him right off the bat.  His photo was very average.  His initial message gave every indication that he’d read my profile, was clearly written by a native English speaker and did not once mention my blinding beauty or that the writer was seeking his one true love.

I responded, and the next message I received was short, written in broken English and requested contact outside the dating site.

To me, it was instantly obvious that the second message had been written by a different person.

That’s when things really started to get interesting.  I mentioned this in a forum, and met a man who makes a living as a sort of wingman for scammers.  Basically, he starts the conversation, hooks a woman’s interest and then hands off the communication to the bad guy.  Of course, it rarely works.  The scammer isn’t able to maintain the kind of communication that drew the woman in and so the “relationship” drops off.  At least, that’s what he claimed.

I was interested enough to do a little research into the concept, and that’s when I discovered “ghost dating”.  Ghost dating is basically the same scam described above, except that rather than handing off communication to a traditional scammer, the ghoster hands off to someone who just wanted to trick the woman into thinking he was more interesting and articulate than he really is.  (In fairness, the term “ghost dating” seems to have been coined by a matchmaker, who never pretended to be the person she was representing…but no idea lasts long in today’s world without being twisted into something conniving and self-defeating.)

I’d like to think this kind of thing is rare, not just because it’s dishonest but because it seems obvious that it’s destined to fail.  But as I read about ghost dating, I could help but think about the number of women I’ve seen posting in Internet forums that they’ve met a man online and everything was great for a couple of weeks and then he changed dramatically.  Suddenly, I’m thinking maybe the changes were more significant than they realized.

Ladies–something to think about if your new online friends suddenly seems to have undergone a personality transplant.  And guys?  Getting a woman to like someone else who is writing from your account wont’ make her like you more–in fact, you’ll start out with a bunch of strikes against you as it quickly emerges that you’re “not who she thought you were” in a much more literal sense than she may realize.

Image courtesy of chanpipat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Men are Mean, Redux

ID-100122417I guess in my earlier post, what I should have said was that men are mean AND disingenuous.   Perhaps that would have been apt to begin with, since the point boiled down to the fact that men claim that they’d prefer that a woman just be honest if she’s not interested, but a stunning number of them turn vicious when she does.  But that’s not why I’ve come back to hang another negative adjective on half the human race; that’s because Mike knows perfectly well that I wasn’t encouraging women to give out fake phone numbers.  He knows I don’t do it myself and he knows that I don’t encourage anyone, ever, to lie.

I simply described the experience that I believe motivates many of the women who DO make that choice.

That didn’t make a very good story, though.  And since it didn’t, he decided to pretend I’d said something else.  And he decided to pretend that taking a man’s phone number in order to stop him from following me any further down the street repeatedly asking for mine (and clearly telling him that I was only doing it to put an end to this and had no intention of calling him) could reasonably be interpreted as “flirting”.

At least, that was my initial take.  But as I sat down to write this, a much more troubling possibility occurred to me.  What if he wasn’t being disingenuous?  What if men do, in fact, interpret, “I will do pretty much anything to make you go away and leave me alone right now because you’re kind of freaking me out,” as a sign of interest?

Maybe I should have called this post “Men are Dumb”.

So how about it, guys?  Do you really think that when a woman says she’s not interested and walks away from you on the street three times, she’s “flirting”?  If so, what do we have to do in order to convey our sincere disinterest?  Outrun you? Vomit on your shoes? Pepper spray you?  Call the police?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Which is it?

mixed-signalsIt all begins with an introduction.  The toughest part about starting anything new: talking to a stranger, asking a woman for her number or coming up with a catchy title for a blog post.  I actually had a little difficulty coming up with the title for this post. Sure, I tossed around a few ideas like “women are mean”, “Tiffany can’t make up her mind” or, “Why can’t women simply say no?”.

You see, it all started when Tiffany wrote her post encouraging men to just tell the truth. Then responded to my post about giving out fake numbers by encouraging women to be dishonest. What are we supposed to think?  Is Tiffany saying that it’s acceptable for women to lie but men should try being more honest? That doesn’t seem fair.

Sure, some men don’t handle rejection very well.  Tiffany even mentioned that she clearly told a man that he could give her his number but she wouldn’t actually call him. Then, she entered his number into her phone and walked away.  Wait, that’s not clear at all.  In fact, most people would view that as flirting.  Actions speak louder than words and the only action that he saw was her entering his number into her phone.  Plus, she did say that he could give her his number (which she entered into her phone).  Heck, if I was a guy, I would think she was going to end up calling.

Now, I wouldn’t have gotten upset if she didn’t call but, if I saw her again, I would probably joke that she must have lost her phone or forgotten about me.  But, the fact that this guy got upset is actually a good litmus test of character and it’s a good thing she didn’t give him her number.  But the fact that she ran into him again makes me think that giving him a fake number would have been worse than just saying, “I’m not interested” and leaving it at that. 

Photo courtesy andrewatla@sxc.hu

Men are Mean

ID-10091487Not all men, of course.  But Mike recently asked why women give out fake phone numbers instead of just saying “no”, and he unwittingly followed up his question with a lie.  He said: “It’s okay to not be interested and, we are men, we can handle (and appreciate) the truth.”  Maybe Mike makes that assumption because it’s true for him, but it still comes across as a bit disingenuous.  After all, it wasn’t that long ago that he told us this story about a female friend who tried to say no, and the persistence that followed.  In fact, he seemed to support the ignorant pestering persistence this man demonstrated.

But really, those men who just keep coming back and asking in a different way (or even repeating the question) are the least of our worries.  The fake phone number issue seems to me very similar to the “why don’t women respond” question on dating sites, and that question has been discussed ad nauseum in every dating site forum worldwide, always with the same results:  a lot of men think it’s rude for women not to respond to every message; a lot of women have learned their lessons.

I don’t give out fake phone numbers, which means that I know a little bit about what happens when a woman politely says no.  Just recently, for example, a man stopped me on the street while I was walking across town and asked for my phone number.  I declined, nicely, and started walking again.  He followed and asked again.  After he’d stopped me three different times to tell me why I should give him my number, he asked whether he could give me his.  Still honest, I told him he could, but that I wasn’t going to call him.  He gave me his number and I dutifully entered it into my phone and went on my way.  Three days later, I encountered the same man in a public place and he reprimanded me for not having called him and then offered to recite a poem he’d written for me.

Yes, there are days when I wish I were inclined toward the coward’s way out and could just lie about my name and number and move on.

Still, as I said, the “won’t take no for an answer” mentality is just the beginning.  The truth is, many men really can’t handle rejection.  When their persistence doesn’t pay off, a surprising number of men switch from charming mode to vicious mode in the blink of an eye.  The woman they were just lobbying for her number because she was so beautiful and charming and irresistible becomes a fat, smelly cow whom no one would want to date, anyway.  She’s reviled for being “stuck up”, cursed at, called names, her appearance and personality insulted, etc.

No, not all men behave this way.  Perhaps (I hope) not even most.  But it’s a common enough occurrence that many women have factored it in to their decisions about how to decline.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


“Is Glitter there?”  Those are the three words that began a phone conversation that I will never forget.  Now, I could have done what most people would have done and just responded with, “Sorry, you have the wrong number” but how often do you get a phone call for someone named Glitter?

It was obvious that something was amiss, I had that phone number for years and I gave up moonlighting as a stripper before I even started.  So, why was this guy calling my phone and asking for Glitter?  The debate begins.

Now, his story was that he met this girl at a bar and she was really into him.  She gave him her number, said her name was Glitter, and told him that he should call her sometime.  My theory was that she was not, in fact, really into him and had not only given him a fake number, she also gave him a fake name.  Seriously, how many women do you know named Glitter?

However, he insisted that I just didn’t understand, I wasn’t there, she really was that into him.  To which I replied, “Then you should definitely call her, she gave you her number, right?”

Here’s the thing, ladies, why lie?  Why give a guy a fake number to call rather than just tell him that you’re not interested? It’s okay to not be interested and, we are men, we can handle (and appreciate) the truth.

I was at a party recently and the question got asked, “What do you do when a guy asks for your number and you don’t want to give it to him?’  Some of the answers were surprising.  Leave a comment and let us know what you would do in this situation.

Photo courtesy AssassinM@sxc.hu

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