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?

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.

What Type Of Mr. Right?

lunchI was out with a friend the other day for lunch.  She was sharing pictures of the home she and her husband just purchased and are fixing up.  As she showed me the pictures on her iPhone, I was impressed with the before and after scenes and how much work they’ve done in such a short time.  When I questioned her about how she and her husband accomplished it all, I received a wonderful loving description of her husband and all the things he did seemingly effortlessly on this home.  She concluded her praise of him with the words, “He totally puts Husband For Hire to shame!”  I thought this was especially touching since these two are past the honeymoon stage, have been together over 7 years, and are very much still “in love”. 

 Her words got me thinking.

First, the relationship she has with her husband is a rare thing.  In many ways, what she and her husband model for me (generally, not necessarily specifically) what I hope to have.  The key thing they share is a deep, abiding, mutual admiration and respect and love for each other.  They also both have their independent lives. 

Further, as a single mom who has no skills in home repair and who has no money to hire it done, I know how valuable a man with home repair skills is.  I also realize that there are many valuable ways people can contribute to a significant relationship. I was originally going to title this post “Two Kinds of Men” because I was thinking of the handyman and the guy who is not handy, but the more I considered the topic the more I realized there are more than just two kinds of men and far more than two ways to contribute to a relationship.  For fun, I came up with a few categories using broad brush strokes, I admit, that men can fall into.  You may be able to think of more.  In fact, I hope you do.  Leave your ideas in a comment or write your own post and link to me. That would be great fun!   Don’t worry, peeps.  I am working on a post about different types of women too,  but since men interest me more than women do, it was easier to start here.  ;)Enjoy!

therepairman 1.  The Handy Man.  This guy can fix, build or renovate anything.  You’ll never need to hire a repairman because even if you did The Handy Man could do it better and for less.  He has all the tools and knows how to use them.  If you find a guy like this, you’ll be able to have the home improvement jobs completed to your specifications every time.  You might have to get used to some unfinished projects around the house as the norm rather than the exception. This kind of guy is amazing and if you find yourself with someone like this, spoil him immensely.  He will build you a mansion of love from his own bare hands.

The Manager 2.  The Manager.  This guy isn’t handy, but he isn’t okay with things being in disrepair either.  He’s a conscientious sort who is willing to part with some money on occasion to make sure everything is looking great and in perfect working condition.  He makes enough money to be able to pay to put in that slider out the master bedroom onto that redwood deck with a pergola and a hot tub which he also paid to have done. He is too busy making money so he can keep his love and his family in the manner in which he is proud to keep them.  While he won’t hang the Christmas tree lights, he won’t leave it to his wife to do it.  He’ll hire the Christmas Tree Light Hanger Person to come and make sure that every little light is perfectly spaced and straight and lit. If you find yourself with a guy like this, you are just as fortunate as if you were with The Handy Man.  Guy Who Can Hire It Done is so responsible that he won’t let you down.  He’s so detail oriented that he won’t let whoever he hires get by with doing a sloppy job.  If you are with him, spoil him.  He is proud of what he can give and do for you and the family.  Appreciate it all and it will come back to you in spades or probably diamonds.

Wayne's World 3.  The Non Man.  The Non Man cannot do home repairs, he doesn’t make enough to make sure that the repairs are kept up around the house by a repairman and he doesn’t care. He’s a fun person, lives for the moment and could care less about responsibility. He’s great in bed, keeps his body in shape and looks and acts eternally 35 even though he may have left his 50’s behind long ago. If he has a job, it’s his 15th one in the last three years. He leaves all the heavy serious stuff of finances, home repair, cooking, laundry and yard work to his significant other or his mother to deal with, stress about and lose her health over. After all, he has to play World of Warcraft. If  you meet this man, move on quickly.  The sex will be great, but the rest of the time you’ll just be babysitting.

personal_chef 4.  The Chef.  Highly sought after by career women these days, this guy is just a bit overrated. This kind of guy probably gets invited to a lot of potlucks and has a lot of friends due to his culinary skills, however, cooking a great meal every night is not as useful a skill as being good at the home repairs.  After all, and I do speak from experience here, screwing up a really good meal is far easier to recover from financially than replacing that wall that was supposed to be a weight bearing wall and should never have been removed in the first place.  So, if all he brings to the table are his culinary skills, maybe you should look further.

The Partner5.  The Partner.  This man is golden.  He’s also a rare find. He is intelligent, capable, resourceful, has good table manners and uses good grammar when speaking and writing.  He’s smart enough to know not to belch at the dinner table, knows which fork to use in a nice restaurant and leaves the seat down for The Other Partner.  He’s a fully vested partner in the firm called Relationship. He doesn’t shirk responsibility, he has people skills, knows how to negotiate the differences in order to reach conclusions that work in the best interests of the other Partner and stakeholders in The Firm.  If he can’t fix it himself, he knows just the right person for the job and will make sure it gets done. He does what he says he will do and doesn’t make commitments he can’t keep.  He’s confident, not needy, won’t play games but will tell you exactly where he stands. When in corporate meetings he doesn’t seek to force his views or goals on others, but instead seeks to influence or persuade while fully allowing the other parties to make their own choices even though he might be very passionate about his own perspectives. He provides information and options instead of coercing. The Partner, while, intelligent, confident and capable, realizes that The Firm he is vested in is a collaborative team venture and not a top down organization where all the decisions run through the senior partner without consideration of the other entities involved.  He works hard and is fully committed to his own success as well as the success of The Firm and others he partners with.  He’s not a workaholic but recognizes that in order to be the best Partner he can be, he must take care of himself too. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself as a Partner in a Firm with a man like this stay with the Firm and work collaboratively with this man and you’ll be golden too!

Romance Is A Game Best Played On A Level Playing Field–Act 3

Curtains rise on The Wild Mind staring pensively off in stage left direction.  Lights up. The Wild Mind wakes herself from her reverie, takes a sip from the mug, put it down absent mindedly and resumes typing at her computer.

ghost-picWho can even fight fair against a ghost? I had no chance to start with.

This brings up another key point that I wish I’d known all along:

The Beau started up contact with the Old Flame at the same time or shortly before he invited me to Christmas Eve dinner. I had no chance from the beginning, because as long as she was even a remote figment in his imagination, I could have been perfect and it wouldn’t have mattered. The living cannot compete against ghosts who still live and carry even the smallest hope of reincarnating themselves.

In a word, The Beau, was not emotionally available. Not really.

I suspected it but I did not know this.  He liked me a lot.  Had she not even been a possibility, I dare say we may have had a chance at a really, really good thing. But it could not ever be, because ghosts are powerful and will not be denied. 

It just was not meant to be between The Beau and I. I’m okay with this. I told him so.  I know there is someone out there for me somewhere.  (I’m skeptical, at this point, about my ever finding him, but that’s okay too.)

The Beau wants to remain “friends”. He said he’d hoped he could be that friend that I call first to tell him I’ve finally met Mr. Right.  While I don’t want to burn bridges unnecessarily, but I never wanted The Beau to play that role in my life. (Sorry, but that will probably be Semi-Professional Photographer Friend and not you, Beau. I already have friends like that in my life. That was not what I was looking for or what I needed when I started dating you. If it had been, you’d have been contacting me on Facebook the first time not on an online dating site.)

I told him that while I’m usually able to do be friends with people I date, I don’t think I can do that here. At least, not right away. He understands this to mean that I am sad, hurt and heartbroken that he’s choosing her over me. It really isn’t so much that at all. It was that this relationship, more than any other to date, for me, had all the signs of being completely viable and lasting…except that he just wasn’t that into me…in the most important way.

And, I so don’t want to be with someone who is into me,kinda, but just not enough.  I want him to be crazy about me or it’s not going to go very far even if I’m crazy about him. 

I also don’t want to be competing against unburied ghosts from the past.  It is not how I’m going to roll.

My disappointment comes from knowing I was right early on and not trusting myself earlier and just moving ahead with my heart. Instead, I kind of dabbled and played the “Well…Maybe….What if?….” game.

My sadness (if there really is any) comes from thus far in my entire life, not having one man who would really go to the wall for me in spite of me going to the wall repeatedly for them. thinkingTwo marriages which existed mostly because I made excuses for the men and held the marriages together at my own personal health and financial peril are enough. The dating scene has been no better. I’ve mostly met men who should not even be dating because they are a.) married and lying about it (read, The I. J.), b.) separated and working on it (read, still not available emotionally or legally no matter what he thinks or says) or c.) still in love with a past relationship that didn’t, won’t, or can’t work out (read The Beau and several current prospective suitors who are making bids for my time and attention but who haven’t quite thrown the dirt over the grave of their past loves).  The graveyard of past loves is not a safe place to go exploring for Mr. Right. 

This is all very confusing, because there is no way you know this going in to a relationship except by being very careful and paying very close attention (something I’m getting much better at doing), and there is no way you can possibly compete with the past or connect fully with the unavailable heart, while you’re there.  When you get out, you regret the whole bloody thing because the playing field was never level from the get go and it was just a big waste of time, except to confirm to you what you already knew about love, life and dating anyway. Who needs to experience all that just to find out you were right all along? I’d rather paint ceilings with rollers.

While I am disappointed (not distraught) on one one level that ” it “didn’t work out with The Beau and I, I really enjoyed our times together and I learned a lot.  It’s always nice to be in a relationship or to be thinking you might be heading that way.  On another level, I can do so much better than to spend my time wondering where I stand all the time.  I go back to my very opening point in these series of posts: When a man is into a woman, no one has any doubts about it, least of all the woman or man involved.  Am I making myself clear here.  I hope I remember that point.

The Beau, was courageous in talking to me about where he stood. I admire that. I gave him an out. He could have taken the chicken’s way out and responded to my text with, “Yeah, I’m not going to be able to make it. I’m wiped out.” Given the FB communiques it would have delivered the same message. He chose not to do that and instead delivered the message the tough way: face to face. I just wish it wasn’t in my living room, but okay. Live and learn. Next time, when I anticipate that news, I will suggest we go out, better yet, I’ll try to force a phone conversation.

Cue happy musical score as curtains fall.  The Wild Mind leans back in her chair and smiles.

To be concluded in the next post…