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?

Heads Up! Seven Up!

lrg-32-valentine_082I remember it well.  The childhood game where seven children in the class are chosen to go to the front of the room.  On the directive, “Heads down thumbs up”, the seven students travel around the room, one by one touching the thumb of one of their classmates and returning to the front of the room. When all seven are back in their places the invitation, “Heads up, seven up” is issued and those seven students whose thumbs where chosen get to stand and try to guess who picked them.  If guessed accurately, they replace their classmate at the front of the room and then enjoy the privilege of getting to “touch a thumb” during the next round.  If not, the chosen student remains in their seat for another round. In this game, as in many such childhood games, there are the choosers, the chosen and those on the sidelines. 

As a teacher, I am amazed at how much kids still really enjoy this game.  As an adult, I am intrigued with the parallels which exist between this childhood game and life, particularly the life of those who find themselves, for whatever reason, single after 40. 

In Heads Up, Seven Up there are the choosers, the chosen and those who get sidelined.  The choosers in life, as in this childhood game, have the most fun or so it seems.  They are up front, making choices, determining by their decisions who gets to play and who does not.  The chosen, are given an opportunity to get in the game, but if they don’t make an effective choice, a perceptive determination, they remain as chosen or worse, they can be sidelined during the next round of play.  The sideliners are those un-chosen ones deemed by their peers as those who will not participate during a round of play. 

During the dating process, we all play each of these parts.  We can be the chooser, determining who we will select or who we won’t.  We invite some to play and sideline others.  We are confident.  We are in control.  We are choosing and shaping our destinies.  Most of us like this place.

Bikes and babes 3There are times in our lives, however, when the choices of others sideline us.  The partner who goes back on a commitment, the infidelity of a spouse, the unreliability or abandonment of the person you planned to spend the rest of your life with but who ended up choosing someone or something else instead of you.  Being served divorce papers, the death of a spouse, the pain of that precious connection going silent without explanation or, worse, just fizzling.  At these times, we find ourselves sidelined, inactive, unable to play, maybe by our own choice…for a time.  Often because of the choices of others or another who simply did not choose us.

Love and Relationship is one game everyone wants to play.  It is the one game that we all want to be involved in either as the chooser or the chosen.  We all dread the sidelines in the game of Love and Relationship.  We want someone to touch our emotional thumb and say, “I pick you!”  WeImage_0023 want someone to tell us they noticed us.  They noticed those things about us that make us special.  They appreciated those unique qualities in us enough to want to be around us and interact with us more often than not.  We want the opportunity to choose and be chosen.  When the words “Heads up, seven up” are called in the game of love we all hope we get to stand at least during one round of play. We hope our guess is right and that we can aptly match the feel of the touch to the owner of the hand.

None of us like the sideline position where we simply watch others play the game that we so deeply desire to be part of ourselves.  This sideline position can be a healthy respite for a time, as we heal from an especially disappointing round of play, but as a permanent state of existence it is simply not ideal.  For some it is even painful. 

Just as in the game Heads Up! Seven Up!  everyone eventually gets to play at least once, so it seems is the case for most people in The Game Of Love.  How long each of us play or how often varies, but it seems that at one time or another we all get the chance to stand on cue and take a whack at making a choice. 

Where are you these days? 

  • Are you in the place of choosing? 
  • Are you there with your head down and your thumb up, hoping you will be tapped for the next romantic encounter?
  • Have you by your choice or the choices of others been sidelined? 
  • Where are you?  How do you feel about it?
  • If you don’t like your current place in the game, what, if anything, will you do to place yourself so that you are happier with your level of participation?

How Do You Feel About That Ugly Word Baggage?

Personally, the word “baggage” is a term that rankles me.

Several posts ago,  in the comments section of the article titled Kip’s Challenge, I was quite pointedly and not-so-nicely accused of having baggage.  He made the comment that most men reading my blog would slowly back away from their computer monitors and retreat to the companionship of other men in a bar.  The implication being that relationship with me would be too much work. (Now, how he would know what other single men would or would not do since he is a.) not one of them and, b.) not a woman dating them, is beyond me, but, yeah, we’ll go with that for now.) Supposedly, Kip has an inside track to the normal healthy available  male mind (the aberrant, unhealthy and unavailable don’t interest me, for obvious reasons.

That comment of Kip’s elicited a flurry of comments which ended in Kip silently backing away from his computer monitor and retreating into silence without much of a fight.  It’s been said that silence is interpreted as agreement.  Need I say more about that?

I’m not entirely certain what Kip  meant by baggage, but if, as I think he did, he was referring to the typical things that people refer to when labeling someone as having “baggage” (kids, past failed marriages, life history and experience, a career, some debt, and a life of my own that I actually enjoy and am not willing to necessarily tube for some dolt with a penis and a pocketbook) then I suppose he is right.  I have baggage and loads of it.  The fact that he said it, doesn’t really bother me so much, the fact that he was the one saying it, when I know full well he is sitting on top of a load of baggage far messier and larger than my own, is what I found humorous.  But you can go read all that for yourself over there if you like.  I’d suggest you not waste your time…unless you actually like some drama.

Over the last two years, I’ve done some thinking about the word baggage, and Kip’s comment forced me to revisit and take another look at this ugly word.

It is an ugly, ugly word.  It is ugly because it attacks the person at the core of their being but doesn’t mean anything at the same time.

Upon entering the dating scene nearly two years ago,now, I like most others just coming out of a disastrous marriage, was in no shape to begin dating.  Even so, I ventured forth against the advice of good friends who knew me and knew better.  I dated for about six months, learned a lot about myself and eventually quite dating, because I determined my friends were right.  I need to sort myself out first before I was going to even be able to recognize a soul mate should he ever venture onto the scene. 

During this initial dating period, I tried several different methods of meeting people.  One of them being, online dating.  In fact, I tried nearly all the prominent well known ones and some of the not so well known ones.  During this online dating phase, I encountered the word baggage more often than I care to remember. 

Baggage is an ugly, derogatory word that contains a million diffferent meanings depending upon who is using the word and what their particular definition of it might be. It is like the word love in reverse.  People love God, or they love their significant other or their kids, and they love movie theatre popcorn or stiletto pumps, or lobster.  Another vague and meaningless word like this is the word, “good”.  What exactly is good?  He felt good.  That movie was good.  You are a good person.  Baggage is yet another word that is so vague as to be meaningless anymore except when it is used it can really sting.  Even if it isn’t true.

You often hear folks mention it in their profiles saying things like this, “Those with baggage need not apply.”  LOL!  Like, first of all anyone with baggage is really going to admit it and second of all, what exactly are you calling baggage there, buddy?  I mean, really? Seriously?  As if the person writing it who is pushing 50 has a clean slate themselves.  If they do, that’s the biggest piece of baggage!  Baggage for me (not divorced, a lot of drama associated with the past because the divorce settlement or parenting time was vague, too many financial loose ends involving the ex, a volatile or violent ex,  emotional instability, a prison record, unemployed, homeless, addicted) could be entirely different for someone else.  Most men seem to state kids, addictions, and insecurities as the main elements of baggage.  Most men do not include a stalker woman as one who has baggage since they mostly like to be stalked.  Expecially if the woman is beautiful, tiny and has had her breasts magically enlarged so that they are significantly larger than her buttocks.  What they don’t really recognize though, is that a woman like that (unless she paid for the services herself) is probably carrying a load of “baggage” (read insecurities and not comfortable in her own skin) and has even bigger expectations for relationship which don’t center around accepting the man as he is but instead focus on measuring him in light of the depth and breadth of his pocketbook.  But I digress.

Most of the time, when someone says, “He/She has a ton of baggage” it is intended as malicious insult aimed at undermining the recipient’s competence as an adult human being.  It simply means “He/she is incapable of doing life”.  They are an incompetent individual unable to deal successfully with the challenges of adult life, therefore they are being crossed off the list of life by someone, usually, who has enough baggage of their own as to make the person they are criticizing look bag free.

It doesn’t mean merely that person was not a good fit.  It doesn’t mean that  the person made some bad choices in the past but they are overcoming them and they’ll be alright.  It’s a completely derogatory term usually used by the middle aged single people for other middle aged single people.  And most people don’t mean “life experience” or “the past” when they are talking about it.  They definitely mean to lump all the person’s issues into one neat and tidy word without specifying anything but with the clear intent to verbally knock the person flat.  Because really, the term baggage is so vague, so broad, who honestly can argue with it?

To many, I would be someone with a lot of baggage: four kids, a home that I own that I have not foreclosed on, but which needs some cosmetic improvements and which has a yard that needs tending to in order to keep it beautiful, a diminishing debt load and a successful career that requires a lot of time and energy from me during 9 months of the year.  That would be baggage for some.

For others, my baggage would center around the fact that I have two marriages that didn’t work out.  Okay, I’ll say it: I have two failed marriages. And, yes, they failed because I was as much a part of the problem as the other person.  That admission somehow sends off alarms to all (well, at least the unhealthy insecure “all”)  that I’m incompetent in relationship.  People make assumptions instead of asking the critical question, “What was that about for you?”  For others, my baggage would center around the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time after my last divorce thinking through exactly that very question and reflecting not only on what the other person did or didn’t do that didn’t work for me, but also on how I contributed to the problem.  The result is, in some areas I’m very clear on what I will or will not tolerate in relationship.  I’m clear on what the foundations of a good relationship must be and how to recognize them. I’m becoming more and more clear on what my limitations are and what does or doesn’t work for me and my boundaries in this regard are getting firmer daily. I’m also unwilling to waste time in any relationship that doesn’t demonstrate at least the basics of emotional, financial and legal availability and the biggie: mutual  acceptance and respect .  Many men, especially those, who haven’t a clear concept of their own self identity, who are insecure or immature, and/or who need a woman to take care of them or fulfill them or to meet their self-centered needs, or who are simply stupid, can’t stand me.

I’m totally okay with that! 

The term baggage, however, is  one of those words which while intended to harm the person talked about, also implicates the person wielding the word.  When someone uses that word, eyebrows raise and the question goes out, “Oh, really, what do you mean?”  It works like this.  You use the word “baggage”.  The question goes out, “What do you mean?”  The word is uselessly vague so you must clarify the word and in clarifying the word you malign the other person somehow. When you malign another from your past, especially when on a date with a new person, it is the death knell.  You’ve succeeded in assassinating the person you were talking about but you made yourself look just as bad in the process. Baggage is an ugly word which when used reflects badly on both the person targeted but even more so the person using the word.

How do you feel about the word “baggage”?  What does that word mean to you?

Boredom Busters

Have you ever kept someone in your life, listed on your cell phone, written in your little black book so to speak, that you have no intention of ever getting serious with?  They aren’t really a friend, they aren’t a love interest, they are nothing, but you keep them around because, well, when you have nothing better to do they are something to do.  They are your own personal boredom buster.  I’m not even talking a friends with benefits thing here.  I’m talking simply someone you contact when there is no one else available to contact.  You do it because you are alone, you are bored, you don’t want to be alone and you’d rather be bored with someone else nearby, anyone else, than be bored by yourself. 

Personally, I don’t operate this way, but I know there are others who do.  It’s especially humorous, when I discover that someone has placed me on their own personal Boredom Buster register. This happened to me a couple of nights ago when someone I met nearly a year ago on one of those sleazy free dating sites contacted me out of the blue through a text message.  Now, this was someone who initially contacted me.  They always contact me. I never initiate contact ever. We corresponded a bit but since he never asked me out, we never met.  I’m not much into digital dating so I moved on and dismissed him as a real contender for Date of the Year Award. 

He would text me (he never called) every so often.  Sometimes I responded, most of the time I did not.  He still kept contacting me.  One night many months ago, we agreed to meet.  He was never a serious interest and I happened to be out with the girls at a trendy little pub in a trendier little community.  He contacted me wanted to know if I wanted to get together for drinks.  I told him I was already out, if he wanted to come by I’d be there for another hour or so. 

He showed up in a t-shirt and a baseball cap.

He didn’t look at all like his pictures.

I was even less impressed than before and it didn’t help that I found out he’s separated, not divorced and “due to finances” not getting divorced any time soon.

Wrong answer!  Thank you for playin’! 

I finished up my drink and went home. 

He never called and then a month later he texts me, again on a Friday night to see what I’m up to.

I didn’t respond.

Seriously, girls, do not get into the last minute habit here with a guy.  You’ll have no life.

He texted me a month later same deal, no response from me and then he went silent.

A couple of nights ago he texted me out of the blue and this coversation transpired:

He: Now that my ribs are healed, I’d sure love to get together again with you.

Mind you, last time I saw this dude was over the holidays, maybe as late as February.  I mean really?  Who shows up at a trendy pub with the intent of meeting a hot chick in a baseball cap and a t-shirt?  Not someone who is serious about impressing said  hot chick that’s for sure. My thought was, “Wow! Wonder what he looks like when he’s just hanging out at home?”  It wasn’t a good visual.

Back to the bizarre conversation at hand… 

Me: What happened with your ribs?  (Duh!  Like I really cared, but I suspected it had the makings of a great blog post!)

He:  (I deleted this message but it said something like…”I didnt’ tell you what happened?  OMG!  I thought I did.” Then he made some nondescript statement about really wanting to date me but about being “shy” of all things.

Me: Yeah.  You’ve kept in such close contact I’m absolutely certain you are into me…NOT! 😉

He: Wow…you’re tough…well I would like to take you out for drinks…dinner…both…when are you free?

Me: Seriously? Thought you were playing me. I moved on.  

I never actually considered this guy for a minute.  At one point, I told him directly that since he was not moving in the direction of finalizing his divorce, I was uninterested in getting to know him in any other capacity than purely platonic friends without benefits. What I didn’t tell him was I’m not really even interested in getting to know him as friends.

He: Ok…I really am sorry I did not contact you more.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you.  You were the 1st interesting conversation I had in months (yeah, that’s what they all say and then they don’t call…if I only had a dollar…LOL!)

Me: Well, thank you.  I enjoyed meeting you too, but in the down time someone captured my interest and imagination and I just feel I can’t give anyone else a fair hearing while he’s a contender.  It might not go anywhere and that’s okay, but until I know that for certain, no one is stacking up.

Now who would pursue someone after that?  Yet, he comes back for more…

He: Fair enough and for love’s sake I hope things work out for you.  You deserve to be happy. (Darn straight I do…and so does he…but he’s not getting anything with that level of effort. And, wait…what’s he talking about?  I’m already happy.  LOL! ) I will check in at a later date. 🙂

I did not respond to this.  I mean what could I say? I probably shouldn’t have engaged in the conversation with him to begin with.  It is clear I am simply a boredom buster for him.  He’s not legally available and is merely looking for a distraction. I am not willing to be that distraction.  I’ve been very clear with him that I am not interested in a friends with benefits situation nor am I into dating someone who is emotionally or legally unavailable.  I met him for drinks once after meager correspondence of no substance for six months, when I was already out with my girlfriends.  It was nice, not great and I didn’t even shake his hand upon leaving.

Sometimes I don’t understand human behavior.  Isn’t it better to be alone with your own thoughts than to continue to put yourself in social situations that end up unhappily?  I mean, it just seems like he’s intentionally setting himself up for failure. I guess some people just can’t stand being alone with themselves and anything, anyone will do to help stave off the lonliness, pain, emptiness, disappointment and boredom.  Or…am I simply missing the point here?

Now, while I’m making this little anecdotal record out to be humorous, and while it does have it’s humorous elements, the real emotion I feel at the end of the telling is sadness.  Not for myself, necessarily.  I am pretty content with myself and I can handle tons of time in solitude and silence.  In fact, solitary confinement would never be a punishment for me it would be a relief.  But for him and the many, many people like him who seem trapped, alone, lost and unable to really take control of their lives for themselves (and I do know how taking control is frightening and difficult) I feel very, very sad.

In the end, it all just seems he’s living a life of quiet self imposed desperation.

Has the Wild Mind Also Died?

Have you noticed how non-existent I am here?  Like what’s up with that?  The Wild Mind gets on and posts a wimpy (at best) post about Michael Jackson and then disappears.  Hmmm, makes you wonder what I’ve been up to.  Or…makes you wonder if I died like all the rest of the celebrities out there.

Okay, rest assured I haven’t died.

Yes, I have struggled a bit with writer’s block due to the fact that certain someone’s might be reading this blog and trying to read between the lines and of course I don’t want them to get the wrong impression so I….*deeep inhale* ….need to take a freaking breath and just write what I want to write.  But also…and more importantly…I’ve struggled because my life is changing at light speed…due to my own initiative…thanks…and well…I just want to write about something more important than Fire Trucks and swimming pool pumps and hoses hooking up.  I mean, as fun as that is…it is so not where I live and other things are motivating me right now.  Sigh. 

The Wild Mind is in a Wild State of Transition….I guess?  Maybe? 

Or…The Wild Mind is simply being proactive and deciding to live life…instead of merely writing about it after the fact?

Okay…all of the above is true.

Here’s what you (you being anyone interested besides The Wild Mind’s Self) need to know:

* yeah, okay, I admit…life has been busy and rather than write about how I’m accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions, I am actually out there accomplishing them.

* I’m done with dating derelict men who are unavailable emotionally and legally or who are simply looking for a one night stand(or lay).  I’m also done with spending time with anyone  who cannot demonstrate a  LOGICAL, RATIONAL, well informed and clearly articulated thought process when communicating.  Since this eliminates 97% of all men on the planet and especially those who post profiles on all the dating sites (and, yes, sadly I’ve tried them all), I ‘ve completely given up on the dating thing.

“Why?” you ask.

“Because” I say, “I have so much better things to do with my life.”

Yeah, that’s it.  I’ve decided to quit moping about my past failures.  I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off and am reinventing myself and my life and my future.  I’m doing it because I can.  I’m doing it because I still have the energy and health to do it….and I am loving every freaking minute of it!  I’m.having.fun!

My mother was soooo right on.  I should have done what I wanted to do to begin with instead of being so worried about pleasing the world and getting married simply because it was the socially acceptable fantasy at the time.  Thank-you, Mom.  Even though you never saw the fruit of your labor with me while alive, understand that your words like seeds were sowed deep in me and took root…albeit late…but they have taken root and sprouted and there is a bountiful harvest for sure! 🙂  I’m finally figuring out what I’m about…what I want and it has nothing to do with the presence or absence of some nondescript man in my life. 

But it means I’m not having so much time to write, especially when it means that creative energy is spread out among 3 or more blogs,  4 children and one very viable contender for the Knight in Shining Armor Award.  (Okay, screw the shining armor part, he’s just very interesting, intelligent, attractive, real…and…well…the best part is that so far his actions match his words and that is never a bad thing).

Yes, if he passes muster, you’ll hear about it.  Until then, he’s only one who’s captured my imagination, sparked my interest and kept my interest far, far longer than most.  If he rides off into the sunset it will be because he didn’t like the fact that I wanted to ride my own horse instead of hitching onto his.  It will be because he wasn’t willing to move forward while I mounted my own gallant steed and caught up with him in a bit.  It will simply be because he wasn’t able to or man enough to deal with a princess who is completely in charge of herself and doesn’t depend on a dashing prince to achieve her dreams. It will be because he ultimately felt insecure around me instead of inspired and motivated to be the best he could be.  Somehow, this particular Knight, strikes me as being one who will make decisions for himself, and allow his Princess to make her own decisions, all the while as he’s got her back and spoiling her at every opportunity.  Not because he has to, but becaue he’s totally into her and not afraid to declare it.

Dashing prince or not, The Wild Mind will create her own Fairy Tale Happy Ending.   It will take an incredibly amazing and masculine and self assurred….even a bit arrogant…maybe cocky Prince to be able to roll with that. 

Can you imagine just how interesting that relationship might be?  Not your standard, let’s-go-to-bed-at-ten-and-do-the-same-three-things-we-always-do-in-the-same-order-at-the-same-time -like-a-circus-monkey kind of relationship now is it?

Ask A Dating Coach

question-mark1aI’ve recently been having a small measure of fun on Twitter.  By small measure I mean not very much but some.  Enough to go back each day and read some of the Tweets and on occasion click on some of the links.  The greatest reaction you’d see me give would be one you’d have to be in my mind to hear and that would be a mere, “Hmmm…interesting”.  In all, Twitter is a promotional site as far as I can tell.  It just seems to be a bunch of people promoting themselves…and I’m one of them.  We’ve become a world of self-promoters.  We are now our own best ad agencies.  Sigh.  But that’s not the reason for this post.

On Twitter or….due to my experiences there…I’ve come to realize that people like Hitch are not uncommon.  When I first saw that movie, I thought, “How could anyone seriously make any money doing that?”  Well, not only are there dating coaches out there, they actually seem to be making money doing it.  I haven’t done the research on what the qualifications for a dating coach are or how much they make, but the job position clearly exists and it isn’t like there are just one or two out there.

I sometimes think I could be a dating coach.  After all, I date a lot and I get callbacks.  I make it to the second and third and fourth cuts usually unless I opt out first.  I seem to be doing some things right most of the time.  I learn from my mistakes when I don’t and keep moving on.

Other times I think I could use a dating coach.  Those are the times when I encounter a dating situation that I just don’t have the prior knowledge or the required skillset to be able to negotiate the situation seamlessly and effortlessly.

Now is one of those times. 

Certain events have transpired to create a unique situation for me.  The specifics have me trying to wrap my mind around certain things.

These are the things I am trying to wrap my mind around:

When in a long distance relationship, and you finally meet for the first time, clearly the person isn’t going to travel a great distance for just a two hour date.  In the case of an international relationship, just the ordeal of working out passports, visas, and going through customs indicates a fair amount of commitment to the cause, and one is not going to go to all this trouble for a dinner date one evening.  Right? 

So, my question is, if the guy comes in from out of town for the weekend, or the fortnight is that entire time considered the first date?  Or is just the first evening the first date? 

If the first evening is the first date, and he’s come to town from overseas to see you, then if you “play by the rules” is the third evening he’s in town the third date? There is at least one school of thought that suggests the first date should be only two hours long. So the question then becomes,  is the first two hours you’re together considered the first date? Or is the entire visit considered the first date?  

If the entire time is considered the first date does this then mean he has to come back overseas two more times before it is considered the third date? 

Or, conversely, if the first two hours are considered the first date, then by the sixth hour if you haven’t put out should he be getting on the plane and heading home? If he hasn’t made a move on me by the sixth hour do I figure he’s just not that into me?  What amount of time is appropriate to consider getting romantic, the sixth hour, the sixth day or the sixth overseas trip?  I’m just having a really tough time understanding the rules here.

Does the Third Date Rule even apply here? 

Let’s revisit the thinking that says you shouldn’t spend more than two hours on the first date together.  Let’s play that tape again:  he’s flying in from another continent.  You’ve both planned this trip for months.  He gets off the plane after traveling 22 hours and battling customs.  You tell him two hours after he arrives, “Well, I should be getting home now.  I had a great time.  Thanks for everything!” WTH is up with that? 

Or how bout the idea that says you shouldn’t see each other more than twice a week at first?  Hit stop! Rewind!  Let’s play video back at a slower speed.  He’s traveled 22 hours by plane, battled customs at great expense to come see you for two weeks to see if the two of you have what it takes to develop a viable relationship.  He’s making no expectations and covering all the expenses and all you’re going to give up of yourself and your time is  four hours at two different times each of the two weeks he is in your country?  Ummmm, what about all that sounds gamey, manipulative, contrived and very selfish? 

Now clearly, I’m not necessarily advocating spending 24/7 with him either, but it seems there has to be a bit of a balance here.  It seems that the nature of the Long Distance Relationship, especially when two different cultures and countries and the expenses that are involved requires some special treatment and consideration and flexibility.

If you insist upon going by all those rules, can you see how it just gets very confusing when dealing with a distance relationship? Do you adhere to the letter of the law or the spirit of the law when dealing with a long distance relationship?   (And by long distance, I mean one where you cannot possibly drive to see the person in eight hours or less.)

It seems to me that the spirit of the law is the guide here.  The questions to really be asking are how do you develop and sustain trust across the miles?  How do you deal with technological snags that limit communication and still move the relationship forward? How do you show caring and respect and continue getting to know each other.  How do you take care of you even though you are spending a significant amount of time with another person?  How do you overcome the cultural and social challenges that might come your way?  How do you support and care for each other when you cannot be in the same location?  How do you keep the interest alive when you are spending so much time together during visits and then no time together during non-visits?  How long can this go on before you have to consider ways to close the distance? 

I mean I could be wrong here, but isn’t the challenge in every relationship that of maintaining and caring for who you are while also respecting and caring for the other individual too?  There has to be togetherness as well as space and distance and the two people in question are either able to negotiate this or they can’t. If they can’t it is probably not going to be a go in the first two hours, the first six or on the sixth trip. I could be wrong. 

Maybe I should ask a dating coach.

Bad Behavior

Recently a friend shared with me how her boyfriend of nearly 8 months ditched her for a period time on their last date without saying anything to her.  It seems they were out with a crowd of people and he simply disappeared for a while with another one of the guys from the group.  My friend was not really left alone.  She was with other people she knew, but she was in a different city about 30 minutes away from her place  and dependent upon her boyfriend for a ride home.  He was not even in the same location with her for over an hour of the time they were out on their date.  When they met back up again, my friend, smart cookie that she is, ended the date and insisted that her boyfriend take her home.  He was surprised that she had had enough for the evening and was calling it a night a good two hours before the time they originally planned the date would end.

Surprised?   He was surprised that she was not going to put up with his bad behavior as if what he’d done was perfectly acceptable.

Another friend, recently met a man and went out with him for a first date.  He showed up dressed in an old tee shirt and a baseball cap. While on the date,  this man did not offer to buy her drinks but allowed her to buy his and did not say thank-you.  She never went out with him again.

Surprised?  Are you surprised that she was not going to put up with his bad behavior?

A third friend went out with a man who was attractive, intelligent, and paid without flinching for the drinks on their first meeting.  He went overboard to express his interest in her and to ask for a second date.  He told her he’d call her in two days.  He kept his word.  When he called he suggested they do something the next Saturday, she agreed.  He told her he’d call later that week to firm something up.  He called at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.  She saw the call ring in on her phone, recognized the number and let it go to voicemail.  She continued on with the plans she’d made for herself that evening after not having heard from him by midweek. What were those plans?  A home pedicure and a quiet evening in…alone.  When I spoke to her later about her thinking she said this, “I have better things to do that to waste time on someone who demonstrates such bad behavior.”   I asked her what she’d do if he called again?  She said, “He won’t, but if he does, it won’t matter.  He had his chance and he already blew it.” 

Surprised?  Was my friend playing games in the way she dealt with the man’s bad behavior?  Was she too harsh?

Bad behavior.  It happens.  Men behave badly toward women and women behave badly toward men.  It is not my intent here to point out or villify one sex over the other, but for the puposes of this article, I am speaking mostly of men and their bad behavior with women.  I do recognize however, that the relational road is a two way street and both sides get mistreated. 

We  put up with the bad behavior because we are so afraid of losing the relationship. This is something I have been guilty of more often than not in the past.  A guy says he’ll call, then doesn’t.  A guy calls at the last minute for a date that evening.  Worse, he pulls the typical 11:00 p.m. bootie call. (Now, that I’ve never put up with not even in my college days when it was normal for a date to start at 11:00!) A guy takes a woman out to a party then ignores her the entire evening.  A guy spends his time looking over every female that walks by while out on a date with you, his girlfriend, of a year.  A guy says he loves you and wants to get married, two years later a date is still not set and he is waffling.  The guy says he wants to move in.  The scheduled date for moving in comes and goes and he and all his things are still not in the same residence with you and yours.  Bad behavior.  We put up with it because the alternative in most cases is kicking the guy to the curb.  We don’t kick the guy to the curb because that means so many unpleasant things.

It could mean loss of the relationship.  If it does, then there go the dreams, the hopes the imaginary future you’d built in your head about all the possibilities you two could have had/done together.  It means you now do not get to check the “in a relationship” box on MySpace or Facebook.  If the relationship tubes, it means pain and loss and grief and anger.  It may mean some lonely nights in front of the t.v. with a box of Kleenex.  It could mean some self recrimination as you wonder, “Why on earth did I waste so much time hoping he cared about me the way I cared about him when it was so evident he did not?”  It could mean a complete change in living accommodations and lifestyle and standard of living.  It could mean so many things that are seemingly worse than just tolerating the bad behavior. 

But tolerating the bad behavior is damaging to us.  By tolerating bad behavior from anyone, we devalue ourselves and risk losing or crippling our confidence and our self-esteem.  No one needs to tolerate bad behavior on the part of a significant other.  We also don’t need to respond to the bad behavior with similarly bad behavior. 

Bad behavior happens.  So, what to do when it does? 

Well, to answer this question, one must first be very clear about what they want from relationship and what they will not tolerate.  Once one is clear about these things, the rest is fairly easy.  Simply do not tolerate the unacceptable behavior.  No need to get mad.  No need to get upset. No need to waste any time wondering if he’ll change or call or apologize.  Just don’t tolerate it. No explanation is needed. 

I hate to sound so callous, but seriously?  If he’s treating you that badly before you’re in a “committed relationship”, what will he treat you like after?  It generally doesn’t improve. Further, why waste any more time in relationship that is mediocre, unsatisfactory, disappointing or just not working?  Life is too short and there are plenty of decent men out there ready, willing and able to treat a woman they care about with dignity, respect and integrity.

So, how would I have done each of those scenarios if I were taking my “No Tolerance” approach? 

In the case of  the first friend whose boyfriend took off for an hour without saying anything to her, I wouldn’t have waited out the hour to find out that he was gone for over an hour.  I’d have either asked a friend to take me home or called a cab the minute I found out he was nowhere around.  I would not go out with him again.  If he called and offered some lame-ass excuse for his behavior (which is the only kind he could offer in such a circumstance) I would politely listen.  I would not offer an explanation for my behavior other than possibly to say, “There’s just not much about that entire episode that interested me that much.”  No need to discuss.  End of call.  I would screen any further calls.  No tears, no drama, no need.  I’m worth being treated better than that.  At minimum, I’m worth an explanation and the opportunity to say I want to go home if the plans have changed.  Further, I would not have done that to him. 

In the case of  my friend who’s date showed up for the first date dressed carelessly and who behaved carelessly, I would have ended the date within an hour.  Fortunately for her, they arrived in separate vehicles and she was free to leave when she wanted without having to depend upon him for a ride.  (I’m a big advocate of doing this if the date is a first date with someone you don’t know very well or if it is someone you are meeting from online.)  I would not go out with this person again and I would screen all calls as well. If it doesn’t matter to you how a man dresses or presents himself publicly and if you don’t mind being his bankroll then this behavior might not bother you.  It goes back to being very clear about what you want and what you don’t want.  The direction I am steering my life, has no room for someone who cannot move fluidly from a nice formal occasion to a tee-shirt and jeans and back again as needed depending upon the occasion.  Knowing this about myself, helps me eliminate the would be contenders for my affection that aren’t a good fit, no matter how nice they seem to be.  And, no, there’s not much about being someone else’s bankroll that interests me all that much. That’s what I do for my children, not for my lover.  I’m not opposed to bringing what I can to the financial table, but he needs to be willing to contribute too.

In the case of the third friend whose date didn’t call until the night of the date, I’d have done exactly what she did and I have on several occasions.   I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:  when a man is crazy about a woman, he doesn’t let her phone grow cold.  He doesn’t wait until the last minute to call.  He doesn’t give her his number and hope she’ll call him.  Again, I know what I want and what I will not tolerate.  I want a guy who is crazy about me and a guy who doesn’t call simply is not.  He’s not shy, he’s not busy, he’s not unable to call, he’s simply not interested.  That doesn’t work for me. 

It’s just bad behavior and I have already used up all my bad behavior moments in this life.  They’ve all been spent on past relationships, enduring very bad behavior when I should have been moving on and enjoying my life.  Instead, I allowed myself to experience a great deal of misery and pain which I could have avoided by recognizing the bad behavior from the start instead of overlooking, ignoring or excusing it. I only have time and energy left in my life to spend on giving the best of me (which is my time and energy) to those who are really truly going to appreciate it.

“The Last Hose Supplier You’ll Ever Need” Responds to My Inquiries

Well, take a look at this!  I’ve received a response from that Online Hose Supplier that I mentioned a post or two back.  To see the earlier correspondences you will have to just scroll through the earlier posts.  I’m too tired and lazy to link them, sorry.  Here’s what that overseas supplier responded with:

Once again I thank you for your inquiry about the range of hoses that may suit your somewhat unique requirements.

Unfortunately I am unable to provide you with pictures of the hose and fittings I referred to in my last correspondance but I can assure you it is unlike any of the previously used hoses you’ve described. I don’t mean to be critical but I think that ,in the past, you have chosen lesser quality and much less reliable equipment than your quite specific requirements deserve.

As a sign of good faith, and to sate your curiosity, I have taken the liberty of arranging for a free 2 week trial of a second hand sample of the product and its associated attachements. Once I have received Customs clearance I will endeavour to ship these to your home address.

As the items mentioned are not new I trust you will handle all items with care.

Please do not hesitate to contact the writer should you require anything further.

He is, it seems, being honest and straightforward about the condition of the hose.  At least he admits the hose is not new.  That’s okay, since new hoses are incompatible with my pump.  My pump is an older model, still in excellent condition, requires little mechanical maintenace, and performs better than many of the newer models, however, the newer hoses just don’t seem to have the staying power my pump requires.  THS is also willing to provide a two week free trial.  He must be confident of his product or his salesmanship, or maybe both.

This brings up a few questions though.  Like, how free is free?  What is the small print?  Better yet, is there anything written in invisible ink I should be aware of?  What I’m most curious about is the “associated attachments”.  Sounds like there might be more to the bargain than a mere hose.

Online Hose Suppliers or Snake Oil Salesmen?

Kip commented on my last post about Online Hose Suppliers and he cautioned me to be very careful.  His comments were valid and my responses lengthy enough that I figured they’d make a decent little post on their own. 

Here is what Kip said in his comment on my last post:

Be wary of would-be hose suppliers who promise the moon; they tend to be in the same class as snake oil salesmen. And let’s face it, they can tell you anything and show you any kind of pictures they want on the internet. There are some things you just shouldn’t purchase online, and this is one of them. You need to see that hose in the flesh and hold it in your hand, make sure it connects properly and produces a healthy flow when turned on. As they say: think globally but act locally! The hose you need may be in your own backyard. So get out there and find it: examine it well, hook it up and turn it on! Don’t despair that you haven’t found it yet. If you have faith in it, it will come!

 And, now my response:

I’m not certain that purchasing something like this online is necessarily a bad deal, though it would require certain additional considerations and many, many precautions.  I would never purchase a hose sight unseen.  I would insist on the opportunity to see the hose, hold the hose and try all the appropriate functions to ensure the hose and my pump fit well together.

 If the hose I needed were in my own backyard, I’d be happily swimming in my blissful pool rather than looking for a quality hose!  I can assure you that there really are no quality hose suppliers in my area and I’ve been diligent in seeking them out.  You see the emphasis here is on quality.  I believe the inner construction and the make up of the hose will determine its usefulness and effectiveness in working with my pump over the long haul.  Most hose dealers are supplying hoses that are poorly constructed, made of weak or brittle materials, not long enough or are simply not the right kind of hose for the job.  After all, if I’m looking for a hose to attach my pool to my pump, I’m not going to use a garden hose.  Garden hoses are not bad and they definitely serve their purpose, but it simply isn’t the kind of hose I’m looking for.  Further, you’d be surprised to find out how many local suppliers post a picture of a hose that looks serviceable but then when I go to visit them to see the hose, they present me with a worn, damaged, dirty and defective item.  It is disappointing, tiring and I’m not wasting time with any of that!  So, I continue on with my search for the best hose for my pump.

 As for the getting out there and finding it?  Well, I’ve worked tirelessly at this project for some time now.  I’m quite willing to do the legwork required to examine the hoses thoroughly, hook them up, and turn them on.  It is upon closer examination (before even hooking up)  that I usually find defects, flaws, ways that the hose would be incompatible with my pump.  When these concerns in hose viability arise, it seems foolish for me to go the next step of hooking up the hose and turning it on.  Why waste my time trying to make a hose work when it isn’t a good hose or the right hose?  No, I need to be able to see that the hose is the right hose before the hook up and turning on.  Once I take that hose home, I can’t expect it to become a different hose.  I can’t just see a brand new hose, hook it up and turn it on and hope it works. I just don’t shop that way.  I prefer to do my research on each hose carefully and thoughtfully first.  Salesmen hate me because I ask a lot of questions and can determine fairly quickly where the inconsistencies lie and where the defects in the hose will be.  When I do find that special hose, then and only then will I consider hooking it up and turning it on.  After all, not just any hose will do for my pump.  I want the best hose!  I’m willing to pay well for it, travel the earth shopping for it, and when I get it home I will care for and maintain it well because I really hate hose shopping.

Grocery Store Get Togethers

Grocery cartFunny things happen in grocery stores.  One time I was checking out and bagging my groceries. Right behind me was a guy that had contacted me on that Online Dating Site that I am on-again-off-again about. He contacted me, didn’t interest me, I responded politely, but not encouragingly. Plus, he kept asking me, “Having any luck on here?”  Seriously?  That’s not his business.  So, it was weird to meet him in the grocery store.  He recognized me, mentioned our brief correspondence and well, I got out of the store fast that trip.

This last week, I had another interesting encounter in the grocery store.  I ran into a friend I knew while I was married to Ex #2.  In fact, we were kind of in a disastrous marriage support group thing together.  She happens to work in this store, but since she works days and I usually shop late afternoons or early evenings we never see each other. During the time that I knew her, she was just starting this relationship that, well, didn’t look that promising to me.  I mean, it seemed the guy ran hot and cold on her.  It also seemed he left her with the lion’s share of doing the work of “relating”.  I remember thinking that I hoped it worked out for her, since she was really into this guy, but also thinking that I was very skeptical that it would.

My friend, didn’t recognize me at first.  Seriously.  She had to do that double take thing, then the triple take.  “Wow!” she exclaimed, “You look great!  How are you?!” ( I love it when that happens and it is happening a lot lately! LOL!)  We did the girl hug thing that women do when they meet and haven’t seen each other for a long time.  We spent a few minutes getting caught up.  In fact, she ended up going through the checkout line with me.  I told her that Ex #2 and I were divorced.  She told me she thought that was a great decision, obviously, since I look so good now (her words).  I asked her about the relationship she was starting way back when we were hanging out in that disastrous marriage group thing. Sure enough, three years later, she’s telling me how he proposed, then got cold feet and backed out.  She finally ended it with him.  I mean, seriously, she hung out with that hot and cold behavior for three whole years? 

Women, why do we do this????

I found myself wanting to tell her, “Girlfriend, you made a great choice!  He never was that into you!”  Instead, I kept my mouth shut, encouraged her and listened and wondered why we women are so willing to “put up with” and “make excuses for” men who really just aren’t into us. 

Men don’t lie.  They tell us exactly what they think, in one way or another. If they don’t call, it isn’t because they are busy or “couldn’t”.  It is because they don’t want to.  We just aren’t important enough for them to carve out a few minutes to connect.  A guy that really wants to be with a woman, doesn’t let her phone grow cold.

In the same way, when a guy runs hot and then cold, he’s not really committed or all that interested.  Most guys know instantly if they want to pursue relationship with a particular woman or not.  They are all hot about her, no cold, it’s just that simple.  He wants to call her, be with her, do stuff for her and give her things, even if those things are only small tokens of care and even if he’s working within a budget.  And, hear me, peeps.  It isn’t the gift at all here that is important, it is the behavior.

I was talking with another friend last night, and we were discussing relationship and single life and guys and she said, “I think being alone sucks and I hate dating, but it is a whole lot better than being in a bad relationship with the wrong person.”

I’d have to say I agree. 

Seriously. There are lots of really nice, handsome, terrific men out there. Contrary to popular belief.  If he’s not crazy about you (and you are worth being completely crazy about!) then don’t waste another minute or amount of emotional energy.  Okay, I give you permission to have 15 minutes of disappointment, but that’s all.  Face it, if he’s not calling, wants to be with the guys more than you, seems to have a whole lot of other priorities higher on the list than you then, well, he’s not crazy about you and you deserve better. Be a realist. Face the facts.  Move on. 

You’ll be glad you did.  I hate to say it, but he probably will be too.