Online dating: one week later

I’m a little more than a week into my experiment with online dating. And (surprise!) I have some thoughts. I’ve been trolling a few of the big ones, but the one in which I chose to actively participate is the one that starts with OK and ends with -upid. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that “stupid” also ends with -upid…

Some background on this site: I chose to start with this one because it’s easy. A quick page of bio info (a summary, list of books/movies/music/TV shows liked, six things can’t live without, something private). Answer any, all or none. Upload a few pictures. Answer multiple choice questions – your answer, what answer you’d “accept” in a partner, and how important that question is to you. You can also skip questions without answering or decide to answer some privately. You can also comment on your answers, which is nice because several of the options are black/white. Based on your answers, the site determines your best matches, giving a percentage to those you’re most compatible with as a partner, friend, and “enemy.”

My thoughts:

  • What’s up with the algorithm? How am I answering the questions that would lead the site to believe that I’m compatible (with a surprisingly high percentage of compatibility) with someone interested in an open relationship or a kinky fetishes or looking for a super-skinny/model-esque/ditzy/blonde/no kids/heavy drinker and big time partier companion?
  • I have a huge appeal to men in the medical profession who are age 55+ (if they’re closer to my mom’s age than mine, I’m turned off), men who are under the age of 25 (mommy complex?), men who are unemployed and/or make under $20K/year, and men who are ridiculously dorky. I can appreciate dorkiness – heck, I have some dorky tendencies, but hot diggity these guys are beyond stereotypes. Oh, and I also rate highly with atheists, men looking for a third-party for their marriage (wink-wink), and men who want to be dominated. Great.
  • And on the issues of doctors, with whom I’m very compatible (allegedly), why are there so many docs on the site? Am I really to believe that these men can’t find dates any other way? By their descriptions of themselves and their photos, I’d think women were flocking to them. Red flags much?
  • I’m convinced that the majority of men on these sites are lying. (Maybe that’s where I went wrong with the kind of man to whom I appealed – I TOLD THE TRUTH!) Photos are old, and even if they were uploaded recently, some of the (alleged)  42 year olds looked at least a decade or so older. And if they’re not lying, the profile language is so cliché: how many hardworking, dependable, reliable, honest SINGLE men can there be in the world? And why, then, would they be single if they were so ridiculously fantastic?
  • Or maybe they can’t read, as evidenced by the responses to the questions. I’m certainly hoping that there are literacy issues that have caused men to answer questions in certain ways – drugs as a romantic activity but you detest smokers? Really? Men who would like there to be a nuclear war? (And why is this even a question?) I really hope that low literacy levels have caused men to miss words like “always” or “never” as part of the questions because for some of the questions, there’s NO question what the answer should be…
  • Let’s talk about the photos for a moment. I don’t need to see you shirtless before we’ve even met. Really, put the shirt back on. Why would you include a photo of just your eyeball? What are you hiding? How come so many men are posing next to “toys” like big boats or motorcycles or fancy cars? Pretty sure they’re not yours, buddy. Or include photos of their kids or pets? I’m not looking to date your child or your labradoodle, so why do I care what he/she/it looks like? Or photos taken from a distance with the man wearing a helmet of some sort – or scuba gear. Like I can get a sense of anything with a breathing apparatus or wearing a snow mobile helmet.
  • Oh, and I live in the land of milk, cheese and beer – I do not believe that every man on this dating site has an “athletic” physique. Unless, we have different definitions of “athletic” – sorry dating site dudes, but the “six pack” in athletic terms refers to “abs” not how you buy your beer…

All this aside, I have had a few “conversations” (online only) with a few men. One claimed to be a widower working in London, but was so short and uninteresting in his responses that I let the conversations drop.

A second was one of those “too old for me” guys who just wanted to talk dirty – or try to trick me into talking dirty to him – PASS!

Another is a local dairy farmer with a history degree who volunteers at the local historical society for fun. Farm-guy and I seem to have some things in common, but I have some reservations: 1) he lists his height as 5’4″ (I’m two inches taller than that). If he’s anything like the other guys on the site, he’s probably lying and even shorter. Height isn’t a deal breaker, but I do like my heels to be at least two-and-a-half inches tall. 2) he’s excruciatingly formal in his written expression. Hey, I teach writing, and I dig a guy who can craft a complete sentence (they are few and far between on a dating site!) but it’s just VERY formal in his sentence structure and word choice. 3) he’s 39 and never been married. I don’t know why this bugs me, but it does. What’s the problem – with him?

In our last email exchange, farm-guy is hinting that he wants to meet. I’m surprisingly nervous about the prospect of meeting someone from a dating site in person. I mean, what do I have to lose (as long as we meet in a public place and people know where I am)?

His hero

From Ethan’s school work today:

Ethan's Hero

If I could choose a special person to honor, I would choose my mom. This person is my hero. I would choose this person because she takes care of me. We could honor this hero by being good at home.

At first, I thought all the kids in the class probably wrote about their mom or dad being their heroes, but after talking to a few of the moms, it seems Ethan was the only one in the class. Other kids wrote about Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and George Washington.

My baby boy selected me as his hero. And it feels amazing. REALLY amazing.

Thoughts on online dating

It’s been 18 years since my last “first” date. When I realized this recently, I sort of panicked. A lot has changed in almost two decades, and even though I’m not ready to date-date (i.e., not date anyone seriously), I want to see what’s out there. Sort of establish a base line so when I decide I’m ready, I know what I’m dealing with.

I visited some online dating sites this week. Even signed up for a couple and started profiles – again, JUST in the name of seeing what’s out there. Result: I’m so not ready for this, at least not meeting someone online. (Yes, I had an online profile for a VERY short time after my separation, before Mike’s death. I should have realized things probably haven’t changed…)

I am astounded at some of the screening questions a few of the sites ask: everything from would you allow a partner to lick certain parts of you (and NOT the “GOOD” ones but the really, really BAD ones – yuck!) to how much pain you’re interested in receiving during sex. So many sex questions…OMG. What about establishing a RELATIONSHIP first?

It isn’t that I wouldn’t answer these questions, it’s just that these are considered appropriate SCREENING questions. I’m not a prude, but I wouldn’t divulge this sort of information until LONG into a serious relationship… Hell, I wouldn’t even kiss on a first date, let alone…

Amazingly, surprisingly, ridiculously, others apparently don’t feel the same way, and reading how men have answered these questions is…just wow. If THIS is the sort of thing people are into, there’s no hope for me finding someone normal, or at least compatible with me.

I’ve had a few messages from obvious scammers. (Really, dude in Trinidad and Tobago: I have completed less than 40 percent of my profile and only have one incognito photo of me and I’m supposed to believe (this is verbatim): “It’s has been a great deal for me to see such a pretty like you here, I liked your profile very much..you sounded sweet and it was nice reading it.when i joined this place i never expected to meet a woman of your type, because you soo adorable and cute.” Um, no thanks. BLOCK!)

Wow!

I also feel like there are larger issues at play. Some men haven’t uploaded new photos since early 2010 – that means they’ve been on the site for THREE YEARS. At what point do you just cut your losses and try another way? Or are YOU the problem, Mr. Online Dude?

I think I’m in a weird age bracket, also. A few years younger, and the guys seem REALLY young. A few years older, and they guys seem (and look) CRAZY old. Maybe people are lying on their profiles? Wait, am I supposed to lie too? Then, what’s the point?

And what do some guys have against proper grammar and punctuation? And would it kill them to throw in a capital letter or two? Put your best foot forward, dude. Try proofreading your profile to avoid looking like an uneducated buffoon.

Another question: how are guys coming up with their profile names and photos? I do not want to see a selfie of a man posing shirtless, flexing in a bathroom mirror, toilet clearly visible behind him (or selfie of just his bare chest with the same background). And the profile names – why is every other man a something-”asaurus” or a something-“InABox.” Are these supposed to be funny names? Are they supposed to mean something else? It’s lost on me, other than to think they must be weird.

Then there are the guys looking for sex. They’re married, and claim to be in love with their wives, but they’re profiles are active and they’re looking for some NSA side action. (“NSA” apparently means “no strings attached.”) And even though I’ve made it very clear that I’m not in this for just the sex, these guys are still checking me out. It’s disgusting. I feel like I need a shower just knowing they’ve clicked on my profile!

All that aside, I have come across a couple of promising profiles, but the thought of reaching out makes me cringe. They’re STRANGERS – even though I know more about their personal preferences than probably their closest friends.

It’s overwhelming to think of starting a relationship with a stranger. To tell all my stories over again. To explain the little idiosyncracies that make me, me. To tell the story of my marriage and Mike’s death. To think of sharing a first kiss with someone – which way to tilt my head? Will our noses hit? Do they want to be kissed too or did I totally misread the signs? How long and involved should the kiss be? Ugh!!

Even before Mike, I wasn’t a serial dater. I can count the number of guys I’ve gone out with on both hands (with a few fingers left over!), and I’ve kissed far fewer. Still, I don’t remember dating being this complicated – or maybe I was just so much more carefree and oblivious? I definitely know that almost everyone I dated was from my real life – I knew them as a friend or through friends first. (Maybe I should see if there’s some sort of potential with K… Then there’s the single friend from my past that I THINK I’m flirting with through Instagram and email – and I THINK my flirting is being reciprocated. Unfortunately, he lives 1,800 miles away.)

I’m going to give this online thing another couple of days, then probably close my profiles (for now). I’m not sure I will find someone this way – not if THIS is what the eligible pool of men looks like. Wow.

You won’t believe how I spent Saturday afternoon…

As I continue to fight the darkness, I realize that I have to – no, I NEED to – get out. Out of my house, out of my comfort zone, out of my pajamas (or yoga pants), out of my routine of just lying around.

My Saturday afternoon activity with a group of mom friends was about as “out” as you can imagine. (And I found the activity even more hilarious considering we all spent Saturday morning at church with our children preparing for their first communion.)

I took a class that afternoon with my friends. Specifically, a pole dancing instructional class. Four moms from the suburbs went to a strip mall 45 minutes from home, and after two rounds of super strong martinis at a nearby restaurant, we were prepared to learn new “skills.”

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A pear and lavender martini made the lesson a little easier, albeit maybe more dizzy and definitely more hilarious.

The store front for this adventure was smushed between a hair salon and a seedy-looking yoga studio. The two windows were covered in pink and purple gauzy curtains. The red wooden door had ornate carvings, and was definitely out-of-place with the other establishments’ clear glass entryways.

The entry was narrow. A sign told us to remove our shoes at the door and place them on the trays flanking the door. A few plastic, cheap chairs lined one side of the entry, and a messy desk was pushed in the middle of the hall. A line of about six women was already formed, each giving the instructor at the desk her name and making payment (or using a Groupon, as my group was doing).

Dimly lit, poorly shot photos of women in various poses on poles were tacked to the walls. I’m assuming these were students, but they could have been “professionals,” I guess.

After checking in, we were told to go into the back. Here we found a super bright room with a dozen poles. The women who were in line before us had claimed their poles, and I had to ask one of the ladies to move down so I could be near my friends. (Thank goodness, because we spent so much time laughing, I would have been really lonely and not having much fun if I was on the other side of the room.)

(Side note: we were all completely dressed for this class in workout wear. It wasn’t THAT kind of class!)

Class started with some basic stretching. The instructor was young, and not as… svelte… as I would have thought. Then she taught us some basic “moves” that included the princess pose (laying on your side, bottom leg bent at the knee, other leg straight up in the air and one hand stroking the body from leg to hair) and the desperation pump (laying face down and essentially humping the ground – the instructor made it look less “desperate” than any of us moms). She taught us how to get from laying down to standing up in a “sexy” way (complete with ass smack). And we learned the “sexy walk” which involved walking on tip toe, dragging the toes of one foot to meet the other and vice versa – admittedly, I found it anything but sexy as it was weird and awkward and Frankenstein-like (but with more hip thrust).

Then we were onto the pole portion of the lesson.

We learned the fireman, the side-saddle, and some other move that’s name escapes me. Then we were given instruction on how to combine the walk, the pole action, and getting up (complete with ass smack). Walking in circles, hand on the pole, spinning awkwardly and falling the ground left us all dizzy and in fits of laughter. (Maybe round two of the drinks wasn’t the best idea, but I don’t know that any of us would have had the courage to do this without a little encouragement…)

We watched the instructor rip off her silky pants (revealing tiny and unattractively tight boy shorts, which may have actually been her panties?), put on ridiculously high f-me pumps, and demonstrate some upside down maneuvers that are taught in advanced classes. (The whole point of this instructional class is to convince people to sign up for six-week classes, of which there are FIVE levels before “graduating.” Graduating to what, I was afraid to ask. FYI – none of us signed up for classes when we left.)

It has been a ridiculously long time since I’ve laughed so hard. Watching my mom friends (a nurse, two accountants, and me – a college professor. I’m pretty sure there’s a joke in there somewhere…) try to navigate the pole or walk-the-walk was hilarious, as I’m sure they had as much laughing at my expense, too. We all walked out of there with a bunch of painful “pole kisses” (which is what the instructor called the bruises we were already seeing on our thighs and shins).

None of us found second careers, but it was a fun, silly, wouldn’t-have-done-it-alone experience that we won’t forget. I also learned that I’m tremendously out of shape (or pole dancing is great exercise) as I was sweating really a ton by the end of the hour-plus class, and the muscles in my arms and the backs of my thighs were SCREAMING.

I need to find more opportunities to get out, do stuff, even silly stuff like this. I had an awesome time with time with the moms, all of us completely out of our comfort zones. And even better, my abs and cheeks  got quite a workout from laughing so much. Laughter might be the best medicine after all.

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My pole. I can’t believe I actually did this…

Darkness

It comes when you least expect it. You thought you were doing fine, maybe even doing well. But then, this darkness – a black hole – appears out of nowhere, right in the middle of your path. You’re drawn to it. It just seems so…right. Peaceful even. Calm maybe. It draws you closer and closer and closer. You want to go there, but at the same time…

You’ve been there before, in its depths. You know what’s in that darkness. It’s misleading – there’s no peace or calm. There’s just… nothingness. When you’re in the darkness, you don’t even want to move. Lifting an arm or leg is almost impossible, no matter how hard you will your limb to JUST MOVE, DAMMIT! You’re eyelids are heavy. Your ass feels weighted to the seat – you don’t want to get up for anyone or anything. You hear the voices of your loved ones, but you just don’t care. You hate being in the dark. You hate what the darkness does to you.

I know there’s complete nothingness in the darkness. I know going there will not be pleasant, and I’ll hate every second of being in its grasp. I’m trying to stay out. I’m trying to ignore it. I’m trying to stay in the light.