A hopeless romantic who is trying to find Mr. Happily Ever After online because she can't seem to find him in the real world. When she isn't blogging or swiping, this blogger hangs out with Wise Neighbors, touches base with her children, and laughs with her roommates who have their own crazy dating stories.
Maybe I'm damaged? Maybe I'm flawed? Maybe I'm too plain? I don't know.
I've met a few real life people--coffee dates and the like. Quick meetings where you "get to know each other."
All of these Meet-In-Person guys--heavily vetted--were kind and nice and seemingly perfect.
But they weren't the kind of guys I was going to get all "high school" about. I didn't fall asleep dreaming about them, nor did they consume my thoughts in the morning.
A few weeks ago, I encountered two really cute couples. One in their 20s and one in their late 30s. Both, embarrassingly admitted that they met on Tinder.
I guess the site is kinda known for "hookups."
In the same way I tell people all colleges are "party schools" if you make them that way, the same holds true for dating sites.
Since I'm keeping this blog PG, I can't post some of the things I've seen that are eye-bleach worthy or unread some of the "don't freak out if I ask you this" questions.
A few of my accountability girlfriends, when I send them screenshots, routinely say, "This cannot be true."
Alas, I think it is.
Well, I met someone on a site, Tinder in the interest of full-disclosure-honesty.
We haven't talked on the phone, but he was clearly open with his approach.
Friend Zone first. No exceptions.
He over time explained the why.
It takes away the pressure, things won't end badly if it doesn't work out. The worst?
You leave with a friend.
So, I've been "friend zoned," and I can tell you its a relief. I have no idea if this friendship will develop into something more, right now out of sheer exhaustion and swipe fatigue, its a win either way.
What I'm thankful for is that there are a few male pioneers, some revolutionaries who are bucking the current system, and proposing something new. Men who have self control and don't ask you icky things.
They are friendly. They exhibit self-control.
The latest guy? We'll see if this approach works. I'm calling him Friend Zone Guy or FZG for short.
I love a good department store. I could live in Dillard's, and I know my way around each department, which entrance to use for where I need to go, and how to maximize my time and effort. Trying to find a good guy on a dating site feels like shopping in a department store.
There are some guys who clearly belong in Sporting Goods. They seem nice, but their world revolves around sports, and it seems that they want YOU to be their sporting side kick/high five person. Don't get me wrong, I love going to sporting events and cheering for my favorite team(s) often, but it doesn't consume me.
There are guys who belong in Electronics. They may be a bit nerdy but they write the most beautiful prose; however, from perusing their profiles it doesn't seem they get too far from their two-monitor set up or leave Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, or whatever the latest game is at the moment. I liked a guy like this in the seventh grade. His name was Todd and he was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons. Many a weekend I was left alone.
There are guys who hang out in the Camping Section and have all the camo, fishing gear, and cast iron you could ever want. They are BBQ Pitmasters and can cook up a storm. They come with beer cans and coolers that stay cold for days.
There are men who feel most comfortable in Special Occasion Wear. They know how to perfect a bowtie for their tuxedo and shiny shoes. They love the opera, charity galas and could give a sommelier a run for his/her money.
There is the guy who feels most at home in the Denim Section. Whether he is wearing Levis, Wranglers, or expensive brand jeans, he has many pairs. Dark wash, light wash, faded, and work jeans. Boots are optional. He usually has a few pearl snaps, wants to take you dancing, and knows when to wear a felt hat at the season's change.
Some guys hangout at the Home Store. They have all the kitchen gadgets and can prepare a gourmet dinner using their grandma's fine china. They have a wine cellar and serve a glass of white at precisely the correct temperature and aerate a bottle of red before pouring.
There are shoe guys. They have all of the latest and their closets are dedicated to them, and these same guys have a knack about what looks good on a woman too.
There are also the guys who are on the clearance rack. They lament in their profiles that they've been passed over too often and are about to give up the online scene.
While I know how to shop in all of these sections, I'm still looking for the all-around nice guy area. The guy who isn't perfect, but can easily walk in and out of each section. Sometimes he is returning something. Maybe he used to travel, but he's given that up because he has young kids.
Some guys openly admit they were too focused on their careers in their earlier relationships. They are no longer shopping in the Suit Section. They are instead focused on Vacation Wear for their next cruise or Mexican vacation.
Dating definitely feels like a shopping store. What section will you meet your Happily Ever After? Are you a bargain hunter trying to find a hidden treasure, or do you prefer to go straight for what you want and hope it looks right with you?
Dating. It's a tricky thing. When I was younger and living in the glorious '80s, we had house telephones, but no internet, cellphones, or certainly dating apps.
The closest thing we had to dating sites was receiving a handwritten note in class that read, "Check YES or NO, Do you like So-and-So?"
We girls would usually respond because, let's be honest, guys wanted to know we would say 'yes' before they'd ask us out. Right girls?
By the time a guy and a girl finally talked in "person," a behind-the-scenes-matchmaking team had made sure there was at least compatibility.
Dating sites are supposed to work like that. Instead of writing in a spiral notebook all about my dream guy while daydreaming in class, I now can fill out-(depending on the site) an extensive questionnaire, give my responses, search specific parameters and wait for the behind-the-scenes algorithm to do its thing.
One parameter that's troubled me is "proximity."
Let me explain. Where I grew up there were two HUGE high schools directly down the street from each other. In students' eighth grade year their names were entered into a lottery, and wahlah, you were picked for one of the high schools. It was weird because once high school rolled around and you boarded the bus, it felt like you were headed to your neighborhood school, but some students got off at one high school and others rode to the next school no more than 1/4 mile away. We shared a football stadium, sports facilities, and buses.
Your next door neighbor could literally go to a different high school than you.
It wasn't uncommon to have a boyfriend at the other school, because you'd see him each day when you got home, and while your homecoming mum might don the colors of the rival school, he was still the same guy from your neighborhood.
Contrastingly, when you got to high school, there were students from all of the district's other middle schools, and while your friends may be in close proximity to you at school, they could live several miles away, which made it difficult for your parents to drive you to/from dates to the mall with your "person," those awkward 9th and 10th grade years before you could drive.
Now, in 2019, I have access to dating sites that want to know how far away I'll date someone, and the answer is, "I don't know."
I'm in a life stage with my children (grown but experiencing their "firsts" as young adults) that I can't and won't miss.
Will I ever relocate for someone? Maybe, but that isn't right now. Because of this, I've set my "dating radius" to 25-40 miles, or whatever is the lowest a site will let me narrow my geographical preferences.
It's obvious that some of the "matches" I receive aren't filtered solely on my settings, because there are some nice guys who are MILES away, yet I swipe left. Why? My kids are more important right now than a potential match. Period.
Could I lose my evenings talking to nice guys? Yes! I did it when I was a teenager much to the chagrin of my mother who had to ask me to get off the phone a lot. As an adult, I have additional responsibilities and relationships I want to maintain. My kids, my family, my friends, kind and wise neighbors. I should maintain these.
The dating sites aren't happy with my decision to keep a close radius, and I get it.
They want me to "pay" or "renew" or "stay engaged," so I don't throw my hands up in frustration and walk away.
These sites are passive aggressively--in the most gentle way--telling me that I might be "too specific."
When first confronted with this, I had self doubt.
"Am I being too specific?"
"Should I broaden my range?"
"Should I swipe right even though he lives over an hour away?"
And the answers are no and maybe and I don't know.
For indecisiveness moments like this, I go to my tribe of elders: the Wise Neighbors, coworkers, my kids, and my gut intuition.
And they all say, don't do it.
It's a slippery slope saying "yes."
Could wider boundaries yield better results?
Maybe, but I'm just not in a place to uproot and move for a Mr. Happily Ever After, and I'm not in a place where I want to drive for hours round trip to meet someone. My time is too valuable. Too fleeting. I'm not in a place where I have time to Facetime or Skype or spend hours on the phone.
I'm just not.
So, maybe I'm not in a place to date?
Maybe my geographical boundaries are too specific to protect my heart?
Will I widen my search someday? Perhaps, but the two men I've fallen for so far in my 40-something years, I found just living my life.
Will I love someone one day who could uproot me and feed my wanderlust to go anywhere?
Time shall tell, but for now, the time I have is best spent in my little circle of the world. Knowing what I know. Loving who I love.
I should trust that there is a great guy within my search parameters who isn't willing to compromise his 'must have' list either.
I have a full-time job. Today, I was busy. No time for lunch. No time to check personal emails or messages or update my friends about yesterday's online dating stories.
Driving home, I plugged in my phone--battery life was on "low power mode," and I started getting notifications galore. When I came to a "safe and complete stop," I checked my phone. I had some dating app "likes."
Confession. I don't like to deliver bad news. So....
I'm struggling with how to respond to "online guys" who aren't my type.
Some have the most beautifully written profiles, but I don't find the writer attractive.
Some guys ARE attractive, but their profile prose doesn't exist, is arrogant, too bawdy, too sexual...lots of reasons why their exteriors are more lovely than their hearts/souls/interiors.
Some like the wrong college team. Sorry. I bleed burnt orange.
Some guys simply don't smile or have not met my "non-negotiable" requirements.
Do I not respond or "ghost" guys that I'll never date? That seems rude.
Do I say "no thank you?" Awkward turtle.
Or, do I come up with a pleasant "thanks, but no thanks" response? That's my current plan.
"Thanks for the __________. Have a great week!" Insert "compliment, nice note, smile, heart, etc."
Today I did that. The guy to whom I responded was outside my age parameter, not attractive to me, and lived too far away. (I'm just not interested in long-distance romance or dating someone considerably older than me.)
I sent my boiler-plate "nice message," and he replied.
And that's where this gets INTERESTING and scandalous and "After School TV Special"ish.
A new character entered the story! I'll call her the "Scorned Woman." I immediately knew when I got a "Meet Me" alert that this profile name was BOLD.
It was "ILuv2CheatOnYou." I was intrigued. I would NEVER date someone with that as their dating handle, but curiosity. There were several photos, and it didn't click just yet.
The "About Me" part made me lean in....
The person writing this wasn't a dude looking for some action. It was a profile created to warn women about the guy who JUST MESSAGED ME.
The truth is stranger than fiction!
I'll let the pictures explain, but I was intrigued. And shocked. And sad. How hurt was the woman who had been swindled by this man; how guarded was her heart, yet she had lived and learned and perhaps recovered?
She was a bad-a** vigilante! A modern-day cartoon hero trying to defeat a villain.
She was wearing a white hat warning people about the black-hatted cowboy doing his normal thing--swindling women.
I blocked the guy, and again, he was too old and not my type, so I didn't fall prey to him, but WHAT IS THIS CRAZY WORLD?
I immediately realized--another blog post fell into my lap, yet I was a melancholy.
How can someone find a "good guy" in 2019? How do people who fall for catfishers or swindlers or not-right-for-me guys or gals learn to trust truly? Dating is truly a dance of deception. Let me explain.
Life is a metaphor-- a series of locked boxes. You learn to unlock boxes one at a time while dating.
Sometimes people want you to unlock a box more quickly than they are ready--don't pry the lock.
Sometimes YOU will be asked to unlock a box before you are ready. Don't. You own the key to your heart, your mind, your thoughts, and your spirit.
Sometimes there are MANY boxes and choices and it's overwhelming.
Sometimes you open a box to find it empty.
Sometimes there are no more boxes.
I had a wonderful person ask me once, "What if I open a box and there isn't anything there?" I replied, "Then that's an opportunity to fill it with something new."
I truly believe that's possible. It just has to be true.
May your dating experience(s) bring you more joy than sorrow; more trust than distrust; more laughter than pain.
Hang in there Dating World. Don't fall victim to pessimism. You have to trust that the right person is out there. It may take forever to find him/her, but don't. give. up.
And if someone breaks your heart, you can always warn others. A virtual high-five to the Woman Scorned Vigilante who "rescued me" today. She rocks.
What do you think readers? Is my suitor and "I Love to Cheat" the same guy? And, discuss.
Catfish. They're "junk fish" and "bottom feeders," so a lot of people won't eat them, but I LOVE catfish. Give me some ketchup, a little Tabasco mixed in, a side of french fries, I'll eat catfish all day long. But, "catfish" in the dating world is no good.
At lunch today I had a message that someone from OKCupid had "liked me." I clicked on it--and there he was a man in uniform, and he was attractive.
I thought it was weird that he was so "Army", but I scrolled through his page. He had posed with puppies, he had some tats, and he was "close by" and within my search parameters.
I guess OKCupid has some freaky thing that tells people when you're online, because he messaged me, and dang, he was laying on the charm. I'm not that great at receiving compliments, so I resorted to my "Ah, that's nice. Thank you, and have a great day." message and left the app.
But he came back with an "I'm serious. You're pretty" line--or something like that. I, a big fan of self-depreciating humor, wrote, "I bet its time to get your eyes checked..probably need a new prescription for glasses."
He just kept going, flattering comment upon comment, and I said, "I bet you're catfishing me." His reply? "WTF. Catfishing?"
Okay, Sparky. I see how you're gonna play this....so, I catfished the catfisher. But, before I tell you how we ended things, here were my red flags.
This perfect soldier--is an Army Ranger, deployed in Texas. (A simple Google search will show you that Rangers aren't based in Texas.)
He told me he was "deployed to Djibouti on peace keeping mission." WELL...then I knew for sure.
While written in English, there were many syntax and grammar mistakes. It wasn't written by someone who spoke "Standard American English." No colloquial Texas slang thrown in.
A close relative of mine is in the military, and basic Operational Security--you never tell anyone where you are while deployed, and certainly not a random stranger. We learned that at Boot Camp. We learned that before deployment. Never tell people where you are. Ever.
"What base are you assigned to in the States," I asked. No reply, but my Catfisher did get send me address for a shady house in Gordonville, Texas. I'm not a detective, but a simple search of the County's Appraisal District call tell you everything you need to know. There is no house at that address, and when there was one a few years ago, it was a rundown trailer house--peach in color. Not the house that an Army Ranger would live in.
Biggest red flag? The soldier in the "catfished photos" is clearly Caucasian, but his online persona said his name was 'Tyrone.' Now, I'm all for innovative names, but the only 'Tyrone' I've ever met was African American. Again, a simple Google search--no Tyrone's with this guy's last name, AND cross referencing to the Appraisal District, definitely not.
So, I thought, "let's turn up the heat on this dating pan and watch this "frog" get cooked."
I asked him to send me a picture or call me right away! My lunch friends were DYING! Poor Tyrone didn't want to talk to me--"busy with Army stuff"--but he continued to profess his undying love, and it was too much. My lunch table friends decided I needed to tell him outlandish stuff. Mr. Army Ranger had a lot of "Tyrone" pics but wasn't interested in sending me any real-time photos.
Whatever he told me, I'd agree with him then change my mind; I'd want the opposite or propose a new idea instead, and Tyrone would go along as he was "desperate to make me happy" because I was the love of his life.
I finally told 'Tyrone', "I wasn't interested in a long-distance relationship since my father is in the FBI (not true) and doesn't want me to date any more soldiers (never dated a soldier).
My reply BROKE Tyrone's heart. He was retiring from the Army in three months, AND he would come back right now for "R&R" if I wanted him to return--we didn't get to the money part, but I'm SURE I would next be asked to get him an airline ticket.
WHO FALLS FOR THIS STUFF? I'll tell you who. A lot of people--men and women alike. The victims are lonely, they want to be loved, and they are willing to listen to a Casanova string together musical sentences with all the right buzz words.
Ladies, know your self worth. Don't be fooled by an attractive guy who has puppies or a uniform. Protect your online identity, your heart ,and your self worth AND pocketbook.
Suggestions for safety:
NEVER give out your real phone number. Stay within the app chatting, or get a voice over IP number. There are plenty of apps that you can chat through that have the functionality of texting.
Perform a "Reverse Image Search" right away if the guy seems too good to be true, or even if he doesn't. Search social media.
Never give out your vitals. Name, phone number, DOB, credit card or bank account information.
There are services that will perform searches for you. Here's one. I don't get any money for suggesting them. Just telling you these are out there if you don't have time to sleuth for your self.
Stay safe! Until next time. Happy fishing!
Alabama woman catches catfish with bare hands - YouTube
Okay, I've learned from these sites that they aren't all created equally--future post; however, what I want to talk about today is FIRST IMPRESSIONS.
Consider your main profile picture your "first impression."
This vacuous, online dating world, feels like a short story that isn't grounded or rooted in a place, so as I tell students with whom I'm trying to improve their writing, "Give me a location. We need walls, a floor, a setting." Ground your story.
In the same way, online dating needs a real-world equivalent.
I can honestly say I've never "bar hopped" to try to meet someone--teenage mom problems--but I want my story to have a setting, so this is what I'm thinking....
If this Profile Picture (see picture below) walked into a bar, would I talk to him? The answer is NO, I'd call the cops or ask the bouncer to handle. WHY would someone think this is okay???? I'm guessing he wants a hookup.
Ladies, this is the pic where I had to decide "Meet Me" or not. If I checked "yes" then I could read more about this person, but again, grounding this in a bar-like, public setting.. This man may be the nicest person. He may be lovely, and I'm not even concerned about his body style. A man with a six-pack-of-abs isn't on my non-negotiable list at all.
My concern is that his prospect's first picture is a shallow, bathroom selfie!
If the dating site was for a nudist colony or someone who was in to "sauna dates," then maybe I would get it.
So, if a Profile Pic walked into a bar...
Guys wearing hats and sunglasses may get a nod, but I'd want to see their eyes while talking to them.
Guys with dogs? I'm saying, "hello!" I don't care if YOU are ugly. You have a dog who loves you, and you love your dog enough to bring him/her to a public place.
Guys wearing camo? Absolutely.
Guys wearing camo and bringing their dead fish, string of ducks or dear carcass into the bar? Ick.
Guys wearing a uniform--I'm a sucker for a uniform--sure! I'll talk to you.
Guys bringing a guitar? YES!
Muscle shirt guys? Maybe. Depends on the bar.
Heavily tatted? Absolutely. I don't care, and I actually like the stories tattoos tell--it reminds me of church stained glass, which was used to share The Gospel to people could not read.
But...guys wearing a towel or underwear walking into a bar? TOO INTIMATE! KINDA CREEPY. Save it for your house, with your woman AFTER you know her, and she says "yes."
If the bar scene doesn't do it for you, then substitute, "If my profile picture walked into a job interview..." or "If my profile picture walked into a grocery store..." See where I'm going? Ewww.
Guys you are supposed to put your best out there. Sadly, semi-naked selfies aren't the best. Ladies, don't settle for some underwear or a towel. Say yes to WELL-DRESSED MEN! Or women if that floats your boat.
Until next time. Looking for my Permanent Mr. Wonderful.
So....I never wanted to be here. I married my high school sweetheart, and although marriage was hard, I wanted a happily ever after. I thought he would be the only man I'd ever love.
Sadly, after almost twenty-seven years of marriage, it ended; it was painful--the untethering of years of shared experiences and intimacy. I'm now in my mid-40s, so I've literally been married almost my entire life-since my teenaged, shotgun wedding.
After my divorce this perfect guy fell out of the sky, and he taught me that I could love again, that life would go on, but sadly, we wanted different things, so here I am. I consider him a friend and I'm thankful for him in many ways.
My kids suggested online dating after Mr. Wonderful and I broke up, and since where I work isn't conducive to meeting people, and I'm not someone who wants to bar-hop, I said, "Okay." And, DANG. I've learned a lot.
My non-negotiable list for online dating going forward:
A prospect's profile picture must include his eyes (no mirrored sunglasses), and I have to see his hair/lack of hair (no all-hat pictures). If the first picture is sunglasses and hat, and I'm on a dating platform that only let's me see one picture before I have to make a decision, I'm "swiping left." The eyes are a window to the soul, and I'm just curious...do you have hair or not?
If ANY of his pictures include a shirtless "selfie," I'm out, no matter how chiseled or attractive he may be in other pics. He can bow up in the gym with a shirt on...that's fine, but no half-dressed selfies, please.
I WILL reverse search his photo via Google. If the picture isn't him or is suspect, he is gonna be blocked. (Catfishing is wrong unless its in an actual pond.)
If he asks me a question that makes me uncomfortable or is creepy, he is going to be blocked. (If I have to go to Urban Dictionary to figure out what you're asking, I'm probably not your person.)
If I'm honest about my character or beliefs and he says, "I bet I can change your mind," swiping left unless it is about something trivial.
If I think, "He's super cute if I could change just this one thing," I'm gonna pass. Maybe he needs new glasses, or his Jimmy Neutron haircut is a bit too metro for me. That's okay, but it's not my place to like someone if only he would fix X or Y or Z about himself. (I wouldn't want someone to do that to me, so I won't do that to him.)
Lastly, if I know him in the "real world" (professionally, personally, or casually), online dating isn't something we are gonna do. Talk to me face to face.
Folks, I feel like I'm gonna be blogging for a LONG time; however, you're welcome to read about my "cautionary tales." If I date someone who seems promising, I'm respecting his privacy as he requests it, and he will know in advance about this blog. My life isn't an open book, but I wish I had a girlfriend who could tell me what she's experienced so far.
I'm not here to man bash. I LOVE guys, and I'm thankful they aren't like women. I'm just an average girl, a hopeless romantic who falls in love too easily and is looking for a happily-ever-after.
Join me. We will laugh, gasp, maybe cry, and cheer each other on during this wild adventure seeking a fairy tale ending. :)