How does one look back on a year such as mine? Three years ago, I ventured out into one of the scariest places I think I’ve ever been. Post divorce, 40-something, straddled with debt that wasn’t all mine, looking forward to fewer years to earn back the losses than I had behind me. While many would say I look good for my age, the fact that they had to add the phrase “for my age” said it all. I was divorced, single with more children than most, struggling to avoid bankruptcy, and wondering how I was going to pay the bills and put food on the table. I was frightened. I was destitute. I was humiliated and ashamed. I was alone. To make things better, I blew an engine on one car, and dropped the rear differential out of another. I had no credit, no cash, no clue what an engine or a rear differential was, and nowhere to turn. I was terrified. I wondered, often, how and if I was going to survive. I was also 40-something and it was only a matter of time before the aging process we all must eventually succumb to, became no longer disguisable. Further, I still had children at home, lots of them, and would probably retire (if that was still even a possibility for me) with them at home. Not exactly the formula for finding someone to spend your golden years with before you actually get to your golden years. Continue reading
Yesterday’s post dealt with truth in dating. While much of what I described happens to both men and women in dating, yesterday’s post was decidedly from the female perspective and slanted pretty heavily toward men and the deceptions they tend to employ, if they employ them, when dating. However, I’ll be the first to admit, that men face their share of unhappy experiences and boatloads of deceptive practices when dating too. I know this because they tell me so or they have, when I dated them. Seems that when it comes to dating and deception, it’s an equal opportunity venture.
Women are just as guilty as men of deception. They just deceive differently. For example, there’s the very common practice of fudging on the number of years we’ve actually roamed the earth. Early on in my Post-40 World dating experience I corresponded with an individual who told me that he actually met a woman who said her age was somewhere in the 40’s but when they met, it was evident to him that she hadn’t seen 40 anything for a few decades. He ended the date instantaneously and (the best part) she seemed stunned. And this is only one of many, many experiences I’ve heard that men encounter when dating online.
Personally, the day I feel tempted to lie about my age is the day I hang it all up for good. I just can’t do that. It is unfair and dishonest.
Do women who do this honestly think that the men they meet are going to be totally impressed when they finally see that they’ve been lied to all along? Further, what kind of foundation does this build for any kind of meaningful authentic relationship? My guess is, and please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess is it erodes relationship before it even begins.
I’ve been told that women lie about their weight, but personally, I don’t get that because I know weight doesn’t tell you much of anything and can give you a really bad impression. Most guys would die if they knew that that cute hottie they are pursuing online actually sports a 145 on the scale instead of a 119, but fits nicely into a size 8. But if she cropped her pic so it just revealed her face and then touted the number 145, what the heck do you think the response would be? Yeah, on the other hand, the fact that a woman even looks like a size 8 online is probably guarantee enough that no guy is asking that woman what she weighs. It becomes an insult to ask what a woman weighs. After all that’s not on the dating questionnaires.
While women are less inclined to lie about their marital status (I think, I don’t know this for sure), this doesn’t mean women are exempt from misrepresenting themselves. On one hand it is understandable. We all want to present ourselves in the best light possible. After all, isn’t that what make up, hair products, deodorant and designer jeans are all about? But when we step over the line of presenting ourselves in the best possible light to recreating a fictional imaginary self, then this is, in my mind, crossing a line.
Personally, I’m all about full disclosure.
In fact, I recently, even as I was writing this was called upon to disclose some very awkward and deeply humiliating aspects of my own personal past. It is a past that I am ashamed of and will never be able to erase. It is a past I regret and will spend the rest of my days trying to help people avoid in their own lives. While full disclosure was not comfortable for me (I totally would have loved to have not had a conscience and been able to justify minimizing or reinventing my past), I told the truth and all of it. It totally sucked. I might never hear from this person again and this is a person I completely respect and admire. But I am committed to being different than I was and I am committed to being vulnerable, transparent, with nothing to hide. It might cost me any number of friendships or romantic interests to come and my past, quite frankly might eliminate me from the experience of any real lasting, meaningful, connected relationship with the opposite sex, but at least I can go to sleep at night knowing that the other person made a decision about me based on fact and not on supposition and not on an inadequate amount of data.
And that, quite frankly, is how I prefer to do life, because in the end, I’m never going to enjoy quality relationship where the foundation is based on misrepresentation and inadequate data. If the entire point in dating is to get to know people in hopes of someday developing a relationship based on intimacy then full disclosure (at the right time and in the right manner to the right people) becomes important.
I want the real deal. I want authentic, meaningful, connected relationship when trust is the foundation and transparency and vulnerability the cornerstones. If that can’t be had then give me the single life. It is much more convenient anyway.
I love it that I’ve not been on eHarmony for over a year and they still keep sending me mail saying that someone or another is interested. I also get newsletters from them still. The latest? “Dating: Why Age Is An Asset?” As if I really want to read the latest spin designed to make lonely old people like me feel like they really have a chance at this love thing so late in the game. Okay, wait. Maybe we do, but I’m not sure eHarmony’s the one to help me out with that. Especially since, when I was paying them to set me up on dates, they kept matching me with people in places I couldn’t get to for a mid-week barbecue, let alone for a month long holiday.
Match.com is the same. I took my profile down there and haven’t been active for nearly a year and I still get emails that say, “He’s interested in you!” or “Check your messages now before they are gone!” or “You’ve got mail!” Big fat hairy deal. The last few guys I met on there, while nice enough, turned out to be completely emotionally unavailable for one reason or another.
Those are the more normal subject lines in my emails. Those and the ones from the college universities trying to tempt me to accumulate big debt in return for a piece of paper that allows me to put some letters behind my name in my email signature. The bizarre ones are the ones that read like this:
Meet Wives For Affairs
Search for Cheating Wives
I am so not into that!
The ones that crack me up are the ones that want me to try Viagra. I am also, for obvious reasons, not into that.
I also have some fun stuff in my inbox too.
Now there’s a new item to burn and mutilate with my penchant for culinary flair.
Crowd Pleasing Favorites: Holiday Casseroles
Yes, this I must look into but, again, you’ll be reading about the latest disaster here I’m sure. I’ll try to remember to post pictures.
In all that stuff in my inbox today, I got this fun little thing from a new online acquaintance. I don’t usually do these and post them on my blog, but I actually love answering questions like this. The challenge is, of course, to answer them as truthfully as possible but as creatively as possible too. I am not sure I met the creativity requirement but I had fun.
1. Have you ever thought it would be fun to jump on a train (as is slows down) and ride wherever it goes?
Only if the ride includes hot showers, meals and a roundtrip ticket with plenty of spending money on the journey.
2. Where would you like to go if you could go anywhere?
It used to be Australia. I still want to go there, but that destination has been pushed down the list a bit. I still want to go to somewhere in the south Pacific and stay in one of those over-the-water bungalows for, at least, two weeks. I know that’s a honeymoon destination and since “honeymoon” isn’t happening to me anytime soon, if ever, then I’m probably just setting myself up for a whole host of feelings I don’t need to feel. Even so, I still want to go, and I want to spend the time snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming, drinking, writing, and taking pictures…not necessarily in that order.
3. Have you ever thought of being a gypsy?
No, this one didn’t make my top five career choices. Probably because gypsies (at least according to the folklore) have to be good at three things: dancing, singing and stealing. I can do none of these things well.
4. Can you smile in the direst of situations?
I can. I can even crack a joke in the direst of situations. That doesn’t always go over so well.
5. Do you like animals (of the 4 legged variety)?
Yes, yes I do. While I would be content to have no pets, I ended up with three. I have a dog which in spite of her lack of training is the best dog ever. I’ve tried to get rid of her. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I need her to accompany me on my walks at night. I recently acquired two cool cats rather unexpectedly and I am finding that I love these felines. They are kittens and they are hysterical. And my poor dog, she’s so sweet. She is curious about them, but not adversarial. She doesn’t fuss when they camp on her doggie bed. The cats sleep around. Sometimes they’ll be in my bed, sometimes in one of the kids’ beds. Sometimes on the floor in front of the fire. I could write several posts just about the antics of these beloved animals of mine.
6. Do you like your job?
As opposed to what? Not liking it or being independently wealthy and never having to work a day in my life? I’ll let you figure out which one I’d really prefer. But yes, as a “job” (I don’t see it as that, though), it is one of the best possible for me. In fact, it was in my top five career choices. I do love it.
7. If you could do anything for a ‘job’, what would it be?
Well, if I had to do anything else, I’d pick J.K. Rowling’s or any published successful author’s lot in life. Crack out a few good books, get movie deals on the bunch and set myself and my kids up for life. Till that happens, I’m keeping my other job! 😀
8. What type of music do you listen to the most?
During school year, during the week, silence whenever possible because I have so much constant noise in my day. During the weekends, its a fairly eclectic mix of genres. Mostly adult alternative though, or instrumental jazz and classical.
9. What is your favorite color?
Mostly blue (but only sapphire or periwinkle or navy). I’m not a blue-green or turquoise kind of girl. I like reds in the wine, merlot, burgundy tones too.
10. Do you believe that things happen for a reason?
Yes. I’m not a big believer in “chance”. I do think that some things appear to be chance but upon further investigation or maybe after the fact, it becomes apparent that things worked together for a larger purpose.
11. When are you most productive (Morning, Day, Night)?
I’m least productive right after lunch and in the afternoons. I’m most productive in the mornings or from 8-10 at night.
12. What would you be doing if you had nothing else to do?
I never have nothing else to do and am incredibly good at amusing myself, keeping my mind occupied and myself busy, but if I were to ever get to this place, I’d probably work on some improvement around the house, write a story or read a book…not in that order, of course…or go soak in the hot tub for a few and contemplate the future of the universe.
13. Would you consider yourself a positive person?
Yes, I tend to be hopeful and not a complainer. I do have my down moments, but they never last long. I am definitely not a happy clappy good morning person though.
14. Have you ever been in a play or done any acting?
Yes, yes I have. I usually play the crazy lady, the shrew or some comedic role. This is something I’d like to pick back up when my children are older. Community theatre calls.
15. Are you in awe of the world around you?
I am. I just had a conversation with a friend today whose sister-in-law is battling leukemia. She was telling me of the bone marrow transplant her sister-in-law will need and of the struggles she’s encountered. It doesn’t take much to realize what amazing knowledge and technology we have at our disposal these days. It doesn’t take much to be inspired by the incredible spirit and determination of a mother fighting for her life and remaining positive through it all. It doesn’t take much to be incredibly grateful for your own good health and all the many other things you so often take for granted after hearing stories like this.
16. Do you like to go on road trips?
Oh yes! They are very fun! But I don’t like them when I haven’t enough money and the car breaks down in the middle of the Arizona desert. Yeah, it happened to me. It wasn’t fun. I had another occurrence where a moving van broke down on me in the middle of a California desert somewhere. That wasn’t fun either. But…read my bucket list. I someday want to rent an R.V. and travel the U.S. Serious road trip!
17, Would you consider yourself an outdoorsy person?
Only in the summer. In the winter…I am outdoorsy but only if I have enough of the right kind of clothes to keep me warm and a reliable 4×4!
18. How many siblings do you have?
This number is undetermined because the actual data on how many of said siblings are currently disowning me is uncertain. Just kidding. I have five. Three brothers, two sisters.
19. What is your favorite time of the year?
There are two favorite times of the year for me. The first is that last day of the school year when I lock my doors for the last time and head home for summer break. This is a wonderful time of year knowing that the next morning and the next and the next I am more in control of my time and schedule and can come and go as I please day after day after day. It is the most wonderful feeling.
The other time of the year is autumn, early to mid-October, before Halloween. This is the time of the year when the leaves are turning their brightest colors and the cold weather is threatening every morning and evening but is still a few weeks off. I love this time of year.
20. What time is it right now??
It is time for me to finish this post and head to bed. 10:14 p.m. I do still have to work tomorrow and my cough seems to be returning and the body aches as well. I need my rest. I can’t afford the luxury and certainly don’t want to be sick again right before or during the holidays.
I’ve told you what is in my inbox that I find annoying, irritating or interesting. I shared my response to a fun invitation to dialogue that ended up in my inbox. I haven’t shared what I’d really like to find in my inbox.
Here it is:
Because it is that time of year, and because temperatures in my area are creating no small amount of concern about freezing pipes and chilly atmospheres, I am thinking that what The Wild Mind needs is a nice, solid, long burning Yule Log for her fireplace.
What’s in your inbox these days? What(Who) do you wish you’d find there?
“Have you experienced The Insane Weekend yet?” he asked. He was a person I’d brushed digital shoulders with some time back, nearly two years now, on a social networking (not dating) site. While he lives locally, sort of, we’ve never met. We chat online every now and then. this was one of those now-and-then times. Over the last two years, I’d become his outlet to rant about his latest relationship that didn’t pan out. Since he’s also an FB friend, he knew something of the demise of the romance between Oz and I. He was trying to be helpful and commiserate. Seems he’d just broken up with someone he’d intended to marry. His situation, like my own, began in a gradual downward spiral and ended up plummeting to a disastrous end.
“The Insane Weekend?” I typed back. We’ve also never talked on the phone, only IM’d sporadically.
“Yeah, the weekend where you cry your eyes out, want to die, don’t want the end of the relationship to be reality but it is. I wept for two days and even prayed on my knees to a God I don’t believe in that He would take this reality from me. You act insane and you feel you’re going out of your mind with pain. You know, the insane weekend.”
I sighed. Yeah, I thought. Since 20 of October I’ve had plenty of those.
“Yeah, I’ve had a few of those, I think,” I messaged.
We went on to talk about the breakup and healing process. The pain when you finally realize conclusively that the someone you’d painted into your present and your future is erasing themselves out. Decisively. Finally.
The pain that comes in spite of the fact that you also had very real concerns about the other person and their “stick-ability”, especially after the recent events.
The sense of rejection you feel. The sense of loss. The very real experiences associated with the death of anything, anyone significant, important, cherished.
The fear that comes with envisioning a future by yourself, when it only days ago appeared to be filled with incredibly fulfilling companionship, love and hope.
The realization and the sickening dread that your current loneliness may well be your lot in life.
All these feelings we IM’d about and shared.
He related the pain and confusion of breakup sex and the back and forth situation he was still dealing with.
I was grateful that option is not possible for me, especially not now, since, as suspected The Wizard magically disappeared in a way that is convenient to do when you are 12,000 miles away and can simply unfriend a person, delete a contact and refuse to answer any email. At least I am not in the place where the breakup sex and the subsequent delay of the inevitable is possible. I’m realizing, as I usually do in situations like this, that things are working out, or they eventually will, for the better. In the meantime I’ve learned a lot about myself. Good to know. The Insane Weekends are over. Moving on.
Eventually, the IMing evolved to texting, since I had to get off the computer. Still battling a cold/flu and feeling very weak after my first week back to work I really could only take so much sitting up and squinting at the small computer print.
By this time our conversation had turned from dealing with what we regretted and had lost, to thinking about the present and the future. We both recognize that though our pain now seems to overwhelm us at points, it is not a permanent thing. We began bantering about his upcoming plans to spend some time eating sushi on his brother’s dime the next weekend. The conversation was gradually tapering to an end.
“You still up?” the text said.
“Yeah, just heading to bed.” It was almost nine o’clock.
“I’m not one to beat around the bush,” the Booty Texter replied. “Want company?”
I almost laughed out loud.
“I think I just got a booty text”, I texted to my other friend.
“I am in my pj’s, look like bat guano and can’t breathe. I won’t be great company,” I texted Booty Texter. “Wait!” I went on, “Was that a booty call and I just missed it?”
Booty Texter didn’t deny it and he wasn’t giving up that easily. He went on to mention that he was was also in his p.j.’s and could just slip on his slippers and come over. He then mentioned his CPR skills.
Really?! Are you kidding me?! What part of any of this is supposed to make me feel special, desirable and like he’s really into me? (None of it, that’s my point!) This also from a guy in earlier exchanges who said “he really liked me, but didn’t know about getting involved with someone with kids”. Yeah, he should have just said, “Let’s be f*** buddies”, after all, he wasn’t “one to beat around the bush”. As far as Booty Texter is concerned all I can say is, “Good to know his real intentions now rather than later”. He’s clearly into no one but himself. Good to know.
This booty call strategy must work for guys because they try it. Apparently they’re getting rewarded for it enough to make it worth the effort. Seems like a completely degrading place to go for a few seconds of gratification…if you could call it that.
The guy had to be totally desperate to want to get it on with an ill, snot oozing, barely breathing babe like me. Add to this that I’d already refused to go out with him once that evening when he invited me “over to his place for dinner”. Right. He was hard up enough to take rejection twice from the same person? And don’t even tell me any of that is because “maybe he really likes you”. Excuse me while the tears from my recent breakup turn into gales of hilarious laughter.
This is my future? I wondered. Wasting time with freaks like this to find out what? They hope to get something for nothing?
“Yep” I texted to my first friend. “It’s a booty call and he’s not giving up easily.”
I texted a firm no to Booty Texter and he, like all the others before him, who’ve tried the same futile tact, ended the conversation in a huff but not before he’d put in his last “you’re really missing out” digs.
I’m pretty sure I’ll never hear from him again.
I’m pretty sure I don’t care.
I let my friend know that the booty text episode had ended and shortly after that we concluded our own lighthearted and delightfully non-sexual banter and said our own good-byes, encouraging each other to keep our proverbial relational chins up.
It is times like these, that I am grateful, for the humor of life. It is these times that make me wonder what I was so worried about a future alone for? It is times like these that sitting at home alone by the fire with my one guard dog and two cats is really all I want or need. No demands. No pressure. No pain. Just lots of good old fashioned contentment mixed in with a bit of joy because I know I’m going to be okay, come what may. It is also at these times, interestingly enough, that my own internal focus and vision for my future become much clearer and more defined.
I’m done with The Insane Weekends. I’m done with online dating. I’m actually even feeling like I might be done with being sick. That’s the best part.
I might even be done with “dating” per se for a while. I just am really tired of the games, the dance, the eventual disappointment. Not that there would always be a disappointment, but quite honestly, more and more I’m becoming convinced that if I just go about my life…if there even is someone out there for me…then he’ll appear when the time is right. It will be more authentic and less artificial and staged. I’m not saying I won’t ever date, but I’m not going to worry about filling my weekend social calendar either. It somehow seems to do that anyway without much effort on my part.
In the meantime, I have better things to do with my emotional energy than waste my sorrows on those who clearly are uninterested and unworthy. I have far better things to with my time than sort through Booty Call Boys and Disappearing Acts in the hopes of finding Prince Charming.
After all, in every scenario, Prince Charming went seeking Cinderella, not the other way around.
Cinderella mourned the loss of her shoe but went on dusting in her rags till the dude showed up. And if he hadn’t shown up, something else interesting and magnificent would have happened to Cinderella. I’m certain of it.
I have far more interesting things to do than read fake profiles, go out for coffee only to find it’s a no, go back to the drawing board again, and so on.
Besides, it is far more likely I’m probably going to bump into him at one of those classes I’ll be taking at The Home Depot on how to install sprinkler systems, lay tile, concrete walkways, or prune my trees because that is where I’m going to be spending my time anyway.
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.
The sorority rush system is actually a highly developed matching system called the preferential bidding system and you can read about it here. 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.
My 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 p 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 organization, 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.
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?
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?
I’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.
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.
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.
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.