How Rushing A Sorority Is Like Online Dating

sw_fake_ballot_sa03045 I’ve recently come to realize how many things in life are analogous to many other things in life.  One pretty benign, or so it seems, event turns out to represent what happens in another completely unrelated area of life. 

So it is with the sorority rush process and online dating.  I know, I know.  It seems like a real leap here, but go with me for a minute.

Way back in the day, when I was even more naive and wide-eyed than I am now, I had the opportunity to go through sorority rush, bid night, pledge a sorority and eventually be initiated. At the time it intrigued me, but over the years, I’ve often thought it a fairly efficient way of sorting through a vast number of potential prospects in a short amount of time in order to make an important decision effectively and quickly. And for many women the need to sort through a vast amount of emails to determine which contacts to spend time meeting and which to never bother with is imperative.

Greek_party1950s The sorority rush system is actually a highly developed matching system called the preferential bidding system and you can read about it .  In sorority rush, the organizations are matched with prospective members in a manner that gradually narrows the options based on stated preferences of the participants. The result is the prospective new member is eventually matched with an organization where she will live, interact, socialize, study, network, for the rest of her years at the university. It is also a lifetime membership to a national organization.  In other words, we’re not just signing a 30-day month-to-month rental agreement, here, folks. The decision bears some thoughtful, considered deliberation.  So it is with dating, that is, if you are doing anything that remotely resembles seeking out a partner you could build a relationship and a life with.

Enter the world of online dating, which I did nearly three years ago.  I spent some time on that Online Dating Planet for a bit and I noticed some things.  First off, all the things they say about men doing the pursuing and women the selecting were true for the most part.  Really.  I no sooner posted my feeble attempt at a profile, a few recent and accurate pictures, and I was bombarded with emails and winks from prospective suitors.  I recently read an article here where some women have thousands of emails to sort through.  I never had quite that problem, but then again, I also don’t exactly live in the biggest metropolitan area and I limited the distance of my contacts.  Whatever.  The point I am trying to make here is that sorting through all those prospective romantic interests is not unlike the Greek organization sorting through thousands of prospective members in order to meet their membership quotas for the year.  It is impossible to think of responding to every single one individually and meeting them all?  Well, there just isn’t time in a life to do it.

afrog 013aMy inbox was inundated.  At first, I spent hours, days, weeks attempting to reply to every wink or email I received.  It wasn’t long before I realized that was simply ineffective.  I had to put some systems in place for sorting.  Now the systems and criteria I implemented might be different for another woman, but they worked for me.  The same is true in sorority rush.  Some house won’t take those rushing as a sophomore, they only want freshmen.  Since I was a sophomore when I rushed, this instantly eliminated me from a number of quality organizations.  Nothing personal.  It was just reality.  Did I cry about it?  No.  I just went with the remaining options which were also very fine organizations. 

When we date, there are priorities and preferences that we have that provide the basis for our own sorting systems.  For me I eventually determined that I was not going to waste time with a guy who winked or only presented me with a message that said something like “nice smile”, “great profile”, and so on.  If a guy couldn’t take the time to create, at minimum, a brief thoughtfully worded message of interest, I wasn’t interested. (And, yes, guys…we can tell when you cut and paste messages! I deleted those too!) This reduced my inbox to a far more manageable number.  The remaining people made it through to the next round of eliminations. 

At this stage, I put in place some more discriminating criteria.  No picture, no consideration.  No words in the profile, no consideration.  If he was a smoker it was a no.  If he’d never been married or was way too young or too old, it had to be a no. These folks usually received a nice, courteous “no thanks”.

After this, I had to consider interests and potential for compatibility.  This is often difficult to determine just based on a digital p1-Our-House rofile on a dating site, but I did find that there were certain means to eliminate those contenders who would probably eventually opt out anyway in the end.  For example, the spirituality of the person is important.  If he’s out there in religious Looneyville where keeping up an image of doing the right stuff is more important than actually being an authentic, decent individual then we’ll rub and quickly.  Why even meet up for coffee to find that out?  Save time, energy and coffee money.  Just say, “no thanks”. 

If he’s a guy who spent all his time out and about with no indication that he occasionally stayed home to rejuvenate and maintain his household, then I was out.  That’s a lifestyle that I can’t sustain with a time commitment that would destroy my ability to maintain my own home and my career, let alone keep my kids in clean clothing.  I’m wise to politely decline, no matter how attractive he might otherwise be.  Our differing preferences in how we spend time will ultimately create problems unless one or the other of us is willing to change and expecting one party to change in order to sustain a relationship (even before a relationship has been established) is not a good sign.  It would have been like me saying, “Yeah, I want to pledge that house but only if they will completely redesign their organization to suit me.”  So not going to happen!

So, you see how the process of matching by criteria and gradually eliminating the prospects is an efficient decision making tool? 

When I was looking to pledge a sorority there were certain things that were important to me: reputation of the otri_delta_slide_show_and_stuff_534rganization, involvement on campus, leadership of members, social life, priority placed on academics, philanthropy, networking potential and so on.  Of course, the actual architecture of the house and its interior were important to me, but these were minor in comparison to the things that really created the organizations “soul”.

When dating, we all have our own ideas of what we are looking for in relationship.  Tall, fit, active, handy, homeowner, non-smoker, spiritual, not spiritual, conversationalist, education, income, etc.  All these facets determine what we think will be a good fit for us.  It is not a bad idea to have these priorities or preferences.  It is actually a good thing and can prevent us from wasting valuable time and energy on relationships or individuals who are not a good fit.  If the organization I am looking at has no room for sophomores in their organization, then as a sophomore, I would have been wasting time and emotional energy hoping I could pledge that house and I may have missed the opportunity to become a member of an organization that would have been even more suitable for me.  On the other hand, spending so much time about what a guy looks like and how much he makes (having a job is good! Making six figures, not required) is a bit like obsessing about the structure aesthetics of the sorority house instead of paying attention to the quality of life that goes on within that house.

theperuviankiss All this effort before even deciding to meet with someone?  Yes, pretty much.  Oh, sure.  There were occasions when I made exceptions.  100% of those exceptions never made it past the first date.  Once I began putting some more systematic thought into the dating process, I found I was going out on dates that were more enjoyable and I was actually having more than one or two dates with a person.  I wasn’t dreading the proverbial coffee date and more and more of those coffee dates led to something more. Even after the something more, the process continued to be a two-sided matching process as my dates and I continued to get to know each other. Dating is like sorority rush and that’s not a bad thing!

What I’d like to hear from others is what kind of criteria do you use to eliminate people you don’t think will be a good fit for you?  Is it looks, income, personality, education, values (if values what values are important)? 

What’s your criteria when involved in the two-sided matching process of dating?

Musings About Alltop: A New Wild Mind Find!

Here’s a highlight of another of The Wild Mind’s recent finds.  I don’t know how long these folks have been around, but in less than a week they’ve come to be my favorite place to go and be…besides here, of course.  😀

7520_3779You’ve got to go check the genius out at my new favorite site: Alltop.com.  It is like a giant magazine rack of all my favorite places on the web.  Alltop aggregates the best sites about my favorite topics all in one convenient place on the web.  No more going from link to link on my blog roll.  No more crowding my favorites tab on my browser.  Yeah, and I’m still trying to figure out how RSS feeds work so Alltop solved that one for me too.  I just go to Alltop. It’s ALL there!   It not only does this for me personally, Alltop provides this service for millions of other people all over the web just like you.  Alltop would be glad to be your online magazine rack as well. 

Think of it this way.  If you are a magazine lover or a newspaper nut you understand how these treasures can accumulate over time.  In my living room and a518690_27261394round my house I used to have a pile of newspapers here, a stack of magazines there and when I had a coffee table the thing was continuously piled with magazines, newspapers and books about the things I was interested in and the author’s I was currently reading.  Then, I got rid of the coffee table, piled the papers in a neat wicker basket and the magazines in a cool container or two, by topic and genre, so they could be displayed facing forward for easy access.  Alltop does (exponentially, I might add)  in digital world what I just did in my living room.

I suggest you go check it out and see for yourself.

While you’re there if you like my blog, suggest Random Musings of The Wild Mind to Alltop.  I’d really love to show up there, because, well, then it would just mean I was hanging out with all the other cool kids…and you!  

Enjoy!

Romance Is A Game Best Played On A Level Playing Field

gingerbreadbreakup

Opening score fades as curtains rise and lights up on scene set stage right of a small cozy but humble study.  A small desk with laptop computer and comfy but worn office chair, a coffee mug, lamp some papers, pens, neatly arranged are the only props.  The Wild Mind sits in the chair attired only in casual lounge pants and a snugly fitting camisole.  Her hair is in a messy bun and one leg is pulled up onto the large but worn office chair in a yoga-esque fashion.  She begins typing and reading aloud as music fades.

There are a million blogs out there that address the fact that women are confusing, game-playing, bling-seeking, brats who expect men to jump unreasonably through hoops before they’ll give it up.

I propose that men are confusing, game-playing, sex-seeking brats, and some of them want bling and sammiches on top of that.  And, in addition, some of those lovable brats are liars and dishonest, even though they are completely unaware of it.  That’s because they are lying to themselves. 

I  propose there are good reasons for both these conditions to exist. It is called emotional survival and pain aviodance.  It isn’t a great way to do things, but many people, myself included behave this way.  Or they have, maybe, at one time or another. 

Next, while I’ve been villified for villifying those who go silent or who are “just not that into” me and who demonstrate it by going silent, I maintain my stance that when a man is really into a woman, he knows it, she knows it, the world knows it and he will cross distance, time, space (or work very hard to close the distance, time and space) to make it work between them.

Cue image of The Wild Mind with thought cloud above head and image of The Beau inside it. The Wild Mind continues typing.  Images appear on the large screen behind her as she continues reading.

Yes, the Beau.

A brief recap here is in order to bring all two of my readers that I haven’t talked to in a while up to speed. And…mostly for me to sort it all out so I can just move on.

I met The Beau through an online dating site.  The Beau contacted me in October, I believe.  This last October. 

Now, last fall I did a really stupid thing at the end of the summer and signed up on a couple of internet dating sites.  I do not know why I did this.  It was a week or two before school started, I was learning a new job and that time of year is insane for me anyway, so I’m not sure why I did such an idiotic thing when I knew I wasn’t going to have time to breathe, let alone date.  I also knew that I wasn’t really in a great place emotionally to date, since, well, I was still pretty ticked off with the whole going silent phenomenon anyway.  And, while I now see the benefit of going silent, both for the party who goes silent and the one they disappear from, I still think it is the more cowardly approach. More about that later.drink_coffee

So, in October, the Beau contacts me.  We correspond for the usual customary few emails and then got together for coffee.  We liked each other right away and he mentioned he had things to do but he wanted to get together for cocktails later that evening…if we could.  He said he’d call me later.

He went out on more coffee dates with women that day.

I went to a bookstore and bought a book. 

We got together later that same day for cocktails, had a great time.  Truly, with The Beau, we never lacked for conversation, which is a real turn on for me.  I later found we could enjoy those comfortable silences too, a double turn on.

The Beau and I, for some reason or another did not begin dating until December.  It was a miscommunication, a misunderstanding but we didn’t  date, till December.  I was kind of corresponding with someone at that point who was pretty interesting and simply needed to follow that out till he went silent on me after meeting me one time (yeah, ugh).  By December, all that had played out and out of the blue, in response to a post I wrote about being alone on Christmas Eve,  The Beau contacts me, invites me to his family for dinner on Christmas Eve, which I accepted and we really hit it off.wine_glasses

We spent most of the holiday break together. 

Thus began the dating season with The Beau which lasted till roughly late January, early February, where I began sensing that he wasn’t all that into me. 

How did I sense this?  After all that time together (six weeks or so) he still was talking about old flames.  He spoke of his two ex wives without bitterness or regret, but he also mentioned two old flames, which concerned me because of the way, in which he spoke of them.  Girls, you know what I’m saying here.  When a guy talks about another woman in a way that makes you wonder “if she were standing here next to me, would he even be with me?”, you know there’s a problem.

In addition, while he did call me daily, I began to sense that it was more out of a sense of duty rather than desire. He also began taking more time on other friends rather than keeping or making arrangements with me. 

He also continued saying stuff like how impossible the 90 minute distance was, how he’s building a house, I’m entrenched here, how’s this ever going work, yadda yadda.

Finally, after two free weekends, where I drove 90 minutes to be with him, on the third free weekend, when I said nothing about plans he neither invited me up nor offered to come to see me.

So, I surmised that he was not all that into me.  I talked about it with him.  I was right.  He wasn’t all that into me, but he wouldn’t admit that to me.  We decided to go our separate ways, but strangely we kept in touch.

We went out for cocktails one night when he was in town for business and had a great time.

He texted and emailed me occasionally.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was out of town for business, he invited me over for dinner on my way home. I stopped in, he grilled steaks, made a fabulous meal complete with appetizers, salad, martinis, wine, chocolate dipped strawberries (I mean who goes to that trouble if they aren’t interested, right?) and we spent a long fun evening together.  It was VERY fun.  I didn’t spend the night because I had to be back at work (and I wouldn’t have anyway…but he did his level best to convince me to).

That night, with my help, he set up a Facebook account and added me as his first friend.

The next morning his old flame was also added as his friend and she added me which I was suspicious of but I confirmed the add anyway. After all, she lives in Texas and a 90 minute drive to see me was a dealbreaker for us.  What could it hurt?

This last week, he was in Arizona watching spring training games for one of his favorite teams.  This is something he does every year.  Something he invited me to go with him to, which I declined.  After going to the games in Arizona, he flew back to Northern California with his son for a few days before returning home to go out with me last night to see my daughter’s performance.  This was something we’d pre-arranged way back in January.

On Facebook, gotta love it, I notice Old Flame is going to be in Northern California the exact same time The Beau is going to be in Northern California.

Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on there.

atsamsungpropelSo Thursday night, after not hearing from him since the beginning of the week, I texted him saying, “Hey, maybe your plans or thoughts about Saturday night have changed.  If they have, I totally understand, but please let me know, so I know how to plan.”

I get no response.  Not that I was sitting around waiting.  I was busy doing my own thing, but by Friday afternoon, I realized I’d not heard anything from him and I texted him again.  He responded with, “My phone was off, plans are still on for Saturday night.  I’m looking forward to it.”

Saturday night. I’m working backstage at my second oldest’s performance, playing hall monitor for the stage right stairwell.  It absolutely rocked, especially since during several numbers I could sneak up the stairs and with my head about 12 inches above the level of the stage, peek out and see Briggs singing and dancing her heart out.  That was a far better and more close up view of her performance than the matinee when I sat in the second row front and center. But I digress, more about that later, if I can get pics.

While I was working backstage, The Beau was sitting in the audience with my other three children.

After the performance, we presented Briggs with her dozen red roses, took pics and leaving Briggs to do her clean up and staff party, headed back to the house.  Once at my house, I hustled kids off to bed, but I’d tipped off Number 1, that I was probably going to hear some news that was going to be disappointing where The Beau was concerned so she headed off to her room early also.

Cue foreboding musical score.  The Wild Mind speaks directly to her audience.

You know where this is going don’t you?  You, like I, probably knew several paragraphs before this. 

 The Wild Mind freezes in position while lights black out. Curtains fall.

To Be Continued …

Thoughts, Ramblings and Miscellaneous Conclusions

This last week was pretty great for me.  First off, it zipped by in a flash.  I love weeks like that, especially since the weekend is really becoming more and more my favorite time of the week.  It isn’t that I dislike work, it is that I dislike not being able to be home, control (or not) my own schedule and just doing whatever I want, whenever I want. 

Actually saying that expresses how really spoiled I am because I have a job where, for the most part, I am completely in charge.  From the beginning to the end of my time with kids, I pretty much call the shots.  I mean, it doesn’t really get much better than that. 

I don’t get to choose when I can show up to work though and sadly, in my location, I must report to work at 7:30 a.m.  This is the toughest part of my job, since I am not a morning person…well…at least not that way.  I also don’t get to choose the curriculum I teach or the expectations for achievement that the kids must meet or the meetings I must attend afterschool which erode my planning time, but I pretty much have complete control over how I structure my work environment, my schedule, my student’s schedule’s and so on.  It really isn’t that rough. 

The rough part of my life comes in trying to have a social life during the school year.  This probably wouldn’t be so tough either, if I didn’t also have to juggle the demands and taxi around the social schedules of four young people.  Then add to that the fact that people must eat and that ends up, somehow being my job.  If that alone wasn’t enough, groceries must occasionally be purchased, oh yes, and laundry done and a house cleaned.  I used to pay to have the house cleaned and the yardwork done, but that was before the divorce.  Sigh. 

Anyway, I am not complaining about any of this mind you, because while it is crazy enough and hectic enough, none of it is what I would consider difficult.  Well, at least, not until I decide to try to add a social life to the already overly full lifestyle plate I have going during the school year. 

So, this last week provided me the opportunity to get away from all that busy-ness for three nights and two days and drop into a different kind of busy.  I walked a million city blocks and that’s no small feat when you carry a laptop that is about ten pounds.  I ate great food that was healthy and which I neither had to prepare or clean up after.  I did really nothing I didn’t want to do.  Yes, I attended a conference and was involved in some pretty lengthy sessions where my butt got sore from sitting so long…but they were interesting and well worth my time.  Each one I attended was so relevant.  That alone is kind of amazing since most of these kinds of events can be a hit and miss endeavor.  This one was not.

The off times, after conference workshops, meetings with colleagues and dinners, provided me time to walk through the city streets three blocks to my humble lodging accommodations.  The wet misty rain felt refreshing and invigorating.  Of course, after two saketinis everything felt refreshing and invigorating.  Upon reaching the hotel room, I would slip into my comfy loungewear and slippers, curl up on the big armchair, turn on the laptop and begin my personal thinking on the white screen. Sometimes when I do this, I create more questions and puzzlements (is that even a word?) for myself than I solve problems, but this week was unusual.  I actually arrived at some conclusions for myself.

Here are my conclusions listed in random order and not in any particular order of priority:

  • I decided, I really don’t want to date or spend so much time on dating.  This isn’t to say that if someone really nice just appeared that I wouldn’t go out with him, but I’m certainly not going to put my profiles up and spend anytime checking emails or trying at all.  It is simply too exhausting, especially during the school year. 
  • I decided that the reason I don’t want to date is not because it has been such a disappointing experience…because it really hasn’t.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and about dealing with other people and I’ve grown and changed some after every experience.  This is a good thing.  The real reason I don’t really want to work so hard at it is this:  I have other things I want to do more than I want to do that. 
  • I really want to work on getting myself in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my home in shape.
  • I really want to work on getting my yard in shape. 
  • I want to write.
  • I have some serious work to do spiritually, but I don’t really know what that means yet.
  • I was serious when I wrote my New Year’s resolutions and I aim to accomplish them, however late a start I’ve had.
  • I mostly want to enjoy my children when they are with me without feeling guilty that I haven’t called someone or don’t want to go out on a given night.
  • I can’t do any of these things and really devote myself to a “serious” relationship.  Most people are uninterested in just seeing me (or anyone) every other weekend and during the school year that is really all the time I have, unless I really start working on this house and then I won’t even have that.  So, the choice for me really boiled down to an either or situation.  Yeah, it would be great to have a guy who was interested in hanging out and doing projects together, but even when the I.J. and I tried that it was uncomfortable because I felt like that was letting him a little too far into my private world and I wasn’t quite ready to go there.  I know I’m not explaining that well but it was weird.  On top of that, most men I’ve met, seem to feel like I want to take advantage of their expertise, like all I’m looking for is a handy man instead of a companion.  Heck, I’d pay them to show me how to do the tasks I don’t know how to do.  But whatever, I’m tired of that little weirdness too.  I’ll just do the stuff myself and go get advice from online or the Home Depot or Lowe’s or something.  Seriously. 
  • I have places I want to go.  I can now completely see the possibility of going to these places on my own and loving every minute of it and I won’t have to haggle with anyone about which destination to choose first.
  • I  see directions I want to head with my career that are going to involve some extra time, effort and thought on my part at least at first.  This is also not something a deeply involved relationship can sustain unless the person is really willing to accept that.  Best probably to just not go there for now. 
  • Probably sounds like I am retreating and avoiding life, in a way.  Maybe this is true. I hope not.  I can really tend toward introversion and the recluse lifestyle, but I am not committing to never ever going on a date.  I’m just not going to work so hard at it.  At least, that’s how I feel this week.
  • Maybe, though, as much as I love to identify with Wonder Woman, the reality is I just can’t do it all.  And, since the stuff on the home and career front seems a bit more pressing than the stuff on the romance front (since there really is no stuff on the romance front), I choose that. 

Anyway, here I go to pull my online dating profiles completely down.  I am finally free!!!  And I am really, really very okay with that. At least, for this week.  😉

Now What?

Happy New Year!!! The greetings and cheers ring out as millions watch the ball in New York Times square drop. In living rooms, family rooms, homes, apartments across this nation we counted down the last 20 seconds of 2007, then raised our glasses to ring in the new year, 2008. It is a New Year, symbolizing new opportunities to reach our goals, start over in our endeavors to find the paths we may have strayed from in the previous year…or years.

For me, on this second day of 2008, the year already seems old. The transition for me was seamless, so seamless in fact, I wonder if in fact it will be a “new” year. After all, winter is still here at its coldest. All my old bills still stare at me from their pile on my desk. The problems and issues and struggles I faced in 2007 are still with me though I yearn for a New Year where these struggles are gone and my life is easy…or if not easy, then easier than it is now. I suspect that many after the celebrating is over feel as I do, that a bigger, deeper gap exists than we left the old year with. What is to be done about that deep empty feeling of “now what” that seeps in after the busy-ness and celebrating of the holidays. Now what?

Well, for one thing, the brief break in the routine schedule does provide me with time to clean out the old clutter. De-cluttering is a great stress reducer and, for me, a great spirit lifter. I feel as though I am symbolically cleaning out the garbage of my life when I go through the piles that tend to accumulate. As I clean I ponder my goals, hopes for the future, plans for the next week, month, year. This year, I am starting a new life after some very significant and in many ways unhappy changes to my world. The changes were truly necessary to my survival and are positive and healthy steps for me, but even good changes often leave us in the place where we look around at the new world we are in and wonder, “Where have I landed and will I like it here?” I have no choice. I must make the best of it. So, I begin, one small step at a time.

I cannot change my financial picture today. I cannot change the winter into summer. I cannot change much of my life, overnight. I can begin the journey though and the first step is to get myself and my home organized so that our days are more peaceful, less hectic and even though things are not perfect in all areas, there is peace and tranquility, good friends and happier memories. And so, with that, I encourage all who might be feeling the “post holiday doldrums” to find one thing they can work on to improve their personal situation. Something small but significant. And if you can’t find anything small and significant, find anything at all. Clean that overstuffed closet. Clear out that junk drawer in the kitchen. Dust!!!! For me, tonight, after I finish this blog, I am going to clean my desk and the credenza I want to get rid of. It is such a small thing, but when I am finished my life will be in better shape because I will know where the papers and documents I need to deal with are instantly. I will probably also find the scissors my children moved from their place and didn’t return. I might even, if I’m lucky, find that pack of double A batteries I purchased in November that suddenly disappeared. Hmmm? Did my son abscond with them for his Gameboy Advance?

After the cleansing process is finished I will be in a much better place to take stock of this new world I’ve landed in and this year which awaits. I will then be better able to determine my course and chart a path toward my goals, aspirations and, yes, I still have them and believe in them, my dreams.

Welcome, 2008! Happy New Year to all!