The Problem with Perfect Endings

When I was young, somewhere in my early teen years maybe, I developed a love of romantic movies mostly in the form of musicals but also those with a bend towards comedy. The neatness of it all appealed to me along with the magical feeling of getting swept up in the story and carried away by its currents. I recognized that most these stories followed a similar formula: the build up where the main romantic couple either meet and dislike each other immediately or where their lives overlap ironically or coincidentally without them meeting; the revelation where the seemingly unlikely pair starts to see or notice one another, maybe they finally meet for real or maybe it occurs to them that there is attraction lurking beneath their tense interactions; and lastly the dramatic, often epic, conclusion followed by the inevitable possibly metaphorical ride off into the sunset. Once in a while the story took a twist and didn’t end this way but mostly there was this satisfying tying up of all the loose ends into a lovely, neat bow. And I so enjoyed that process and the perfect ending.

In fact when it didn’t happen I felt a little robbed. When I read Little Women and Jo didn’t end up with Laurie I was downright angry, even more so when her calmer, kinder sister did. What the actual eff, Louisa May Alcott??

Somewhere along the lines things changed; I changed.

I very distinctly remember going to a movie with my then (but not too far from ex) husband somewhere in the late 2000’s, I was slightly past mid twenties; we saw one of those romantic comedies. It followed the formula and presented the same perfect ending after the token conflict or overcoming of circumstances. But the satisfaction in that was gone. Vanished. Instead a white hot anger flickered up inside me. I literally wanted to take off a shoe and throw it at the giant screen.

“Lies!”, I thought, “it’s nothing but lies.” Why do they sell us this bullshit? Like everything is going to magically be great some day. Almost ten years into a marriage that was fatally flawed from the start, and not romantically so but destructively so, I knew better than that and I did not enjoy the empty promises I was being sold in the form of that perfect ending.

Shortly after that, during the divorce yes, I couldn’t even watch romantic movies, especially the comedic ones, unless I was in a dark place and wallowing in the bit of self loathing I had yet to battle through. I felt angry, so so angry, and betrayed by them. It was a twisted form of punishment to sit and watch the trite, idyllic story unfold and know that the reality of relationships, the real stories, were tinted with hurt and brokenness. Pain, more often than not, inflicted by the very person standing there swearing they loved you.

Time heals all wounds, as the saying goes. Heals, yes, but it never puts things back as they were. The more help you give time, the more work you do, the better those wounds heal. But there’s still always a scar.

While I don’t thoroughly enjoy those romantic stories like I once did, I can occasionally watch and enjoy them now. These days, though, I appreciate the less than perfect endings more. I like when the film gives nod to the possibility of perfection in romance but then gently reminds us that is not the norm. So maybe the couple rides off into the proverbial sunset but then they fall off their horse which insights bickering and blame casting; suddenly yet stealthily the seeds of resentment are sown. Or, more likely, the couple doesn’t end up together but they both treasure the time they shared while going on to lead full and fufilling lives. It’s a reminder that even relationships that don’t last forever have value and are worthwhile; sometimes things end and people part ways but that’s okay. Perfection isn’t always ideal.

It’s not the chase, it’s the intermittent reinforcement.

I briefly mentioned (in my exasperated rant about yet anther ghosting) that I have once again entered the dark and mysteriously alluring world of online dating, this time with an altered approach. For one I’m on a different site than last time (no more bottom feeders at POF for this girl…I’ve moved on to the (still free) illustrious pool of somewhat eligible bachelors matched to me via the very loose algorithms of OK Cupid.). And for two, I’m more interested in and open to an actual relationship this go round. Shocking, I know. It kind of snuck up on me too but I’ve realized I feel sort of…maybe..almost ready for a regular other person in my life. Whatever that means.

However, just because that’s what I think I  want right now does not mean it’s what I’ve gotten. While there does seem to be more candidates on this site, the dates I’ve been on have not been so different. There’s been the FriendZone guy (decent, easy to get along with, interesting but no chemistry), the boring guy (super available, not a lot going on in his life, nice but…nice), and, the one that seems to click, the Ghoster.

It’s the last one that gets me every time.

He’s fun, interesting, and makes me laugh, even gets my sense of humor. He meshes. Usually there’s something that makes me hesitant at first but a  few dates in and I start thinking “This has potential.” And then it happens. As soon as I start leaning towards wanting him around and feeling optimistic, he “Ghosts”. Dude just drops off the face of the earth never to be heard from again. I’ve experienced this a few times. And every time I’m infuriated.

But then it happens again.

Sometimes there are signs. He texts a little less or seems less engaged. Little things like that. I should be able to recognize the warning signs by now. And I sort of do. The problem is the warning signs make me want the dude more… I thought I just really liked the chase (in a lot of ways I am more like a stereotypical guy than girl. Seriously, don’t buy me flowers…give me beer and a burger and I’m a happy camper.) But then one day, in a somewhat frustrating but still rewarding texting situation with a friend, a light bulb dinged in my head saying:

“Intermittent reinforcement”!

See, this guy and I have a mostly texting based friendship. Occasionally we’ll talk about meeting up for a random adventure. And it has actually happened. Twice. In three years. Sometimes, okay maybe more than sometimes, I’ll randomly text him and he won’t respond. But then sometimes he does. Once in a while he’ll even text me out of the blue. I’m always super excited and kind of happy about it. This pattern has gone on for a while now, over a year (I’m almost embarrassed to admit). Little spurts of fun attention with spans of mostly being ignored or getting short answers in between.

Intermittent reinforcement.

I’ve taken a couple psychology classes (Or I’ve taken a psychology class a couple of times. Whatever. Basically the same thing.) and I remember B.F. Skinner and his rats.

Skinner, an early behavioral psychologist, studied rats and their response to reward based stimulus. He talked about operant conditioning and stuff. (Here’s the Wikipedia page to prove it.) One of the things that this Skinner dude found, way back before the middle of the 20th century, was that intermittent reinforcement was way more effective than continuous reinforcement. Meaning when we consistently get a positive (or negative) result from our actions it isn’t as exciting and, well, rewarding as when we only get that same result once in a while. We thrive off the unpredictability of the prize, it makes us crazy for more and drives us to increase the behavior for even just the chance of getting the reward.

In rat studies this looks like the rat getting a food prize every time it pulls the right lever versus only some of the time. The rat who only gets a prize some of the time will pull that damn lever over and over and over again. Think gambling and slot machines here. It’s exponentially more exciting and rewarding because we’re surprised when we get the reward and addicted to the possibility of getting a reward next time when we don’t. It’s a very effective training tool.

So what do rats and reinforcement have to do with dating?

Everything! Getting a response or attention from a person only some of the time instead of every time we try makes us want to try to get that person’s attention even more. Anyone who had done any online dating can probably give antedotal evidence of this. 

So I realized that I was engaged in a pattern of intermittent reinforcement with Fickle Texting guy. The fact that he didn’t respond every time, or even regularly, made me want interaction with him even more. When he did actually respond and interact it was like all the cherries lined up on the slot machine. Excitement and win ! When there was no response it was annoying and frustrating but I was still drawn to texting him again at random. Because he might respond. The possibulity was there. As soon as I recognized this dynamic with Fickle Texting Guy (I’m slow sometimes but eventually I get it.) I started to notice it other places in my life too, specifically in some of my past dating experiences.

Heck, I’ve been on the receiving AND the giving end of intermittent reinforcement.

I think we all have and that’s not necessarily unhealthy. At the beginning, in moderation, it’s part of what builds attraction. But, and this is a big butt, it can very easily become unhealthy and even feed into abusive relationship dynamics. Continued intermittent reinforcement basically gives one person control of the interaction pace and lends itself to a craving in the other person that goes largely unsatisfied. Again, think gambling addiction here. It’s the same thing.

SO now that I’m aware of this thing, what do I do with this it? 

Do I try to “hook” a guy using intermittent reinforcement? It does sound like a fun social experiment. But what kind of a relationship dynamic would that foster? And what kind of guy would I catch with that?

Seeking out guys who don’t engage in imtermittent reinforcement seems like a better idea. I mean, I’ve already proven to be good at finding the guy who is going to run away, probably after the next shiny thing. Identifying patterns of intermittent reinforcement early could be a good way to weed out the Ghosters before the disappearing act begins. This is something I’m going to mull over and keep in mind as I message new guys online and continue to try and find one who will not only stick around, but who I also actually want around. 

As for the guy who only responds to texts sometimes, it’s been about a month since I’ve restarted the intermittent reinforcement cycle and I’m not all that interested in doing so. Maybe knowing really is half the battle.

 

 

Is it you or the rejection?

In the last month of 2016 I did this thing. Again. I created an online dating profile and threw my hat into the ring.

It had been close to a year since I conscientiously decided that my life had no room for dating. But then things started to feel different. I was…idk. Feeling more ready to have a regular someone? Or maybe I was just a little sadder and more lonely than usual. Maybe I was trying to distract myself from the lingering uncertainty and imminent disappointment of not having gotten a fall interview for dental school. Maybe I saw a few blank days on the calendar and, knowing how poorly I still handle more than three days in a row without my kids (especially when there’s no school to occupy my time), sought to fill them. Mostly I think I just wanted connection, positive human interaction to look forward to. And I found that. For a hot minute. Just.

A couple weeks into the process I had already been on three dates. One was fun but it was pretty clear the feelings were only platonic. One was a little awkward and almost boring. The other, though, that one had potential. It lead to a second then third date. There was the right amount of texting in between with banter, sarcasm, and regular conversation. He got my slightly sarcastic and jaded, dry sense of humor. It was great and on top of that he was local and had enough life stuff of his own going on to not be boring, desperate, or overly clingy. (In retrospect that’s a little ironic.) Both personally and logistically there was promise here. That is, until a few days ago. We had talked about “doing something” Monday or Tuesday. He said he was definitely interested. That was on Friday, I think, and regular texting continued for another day or so. And then… nothing. A-fucking-gain. Dude just stops responding to texts.

I’ve only sent two. One Sunday night asking Monday or Tuesday and one Monday afternoon saying “Welp, guess not today huh”. And, yes, it’s only Tuesday but given that there were tentative plans I’m taking this as a bad sign. This isn’t the first or, sadly, even the second time I’ve been “ghosted”. Maybe I’m wrong here but I highly doubt it.

So now I’ve been properly (re)disillusioned about dating. And it sucks. Again. It dredges up the same feelings as before. Frustration, anger, and some good ol’fashioned hurt. But did I really attach that fast? And if I did what the fuck is wrong with me??? It’s been maybe a month since the chatting and then texting began and only three dates. That’s not personal investment level time even if the guy seemed like a good fit. Which makes me wonder, is it him or just the rejection that’s got me all bent up inside?

Hell, maybe it’s the post holiday let down or the recent inability to sleep or the empty house and missing the kids. Or all of the above, along with the aforementioned looming dental school disappointment. Probably all of the above.

But, seriously, again?!?!

I think there’s some effed up homing mechanism in my head, like the thing that helps birds migrate back to the exact same spot every year except mine acts as a beacon to the guys who are going to disappear. Really I should start a service where I suss out the ghosters for other women. (I could be a Ghoster detector…a Ghoster Buster!) Because if I like them and there seems to be potential, well, chances are he’s going to disappear. Maybe it’ll be a few weeks, maybe a month or three, but one day he’ll just drop off the face of the earth. Figuratively speaking of course. Unless that’s what is literally happening. There could be a Bermuda triangle of guys I started sort of dating out there somewhere. That would explain a lot…

At any rate, I’m not sure how I want to let this affect my recent spate of online dating attempts. Is this the hot pan that I pull back from quickly, thankful the burn wasn’t worse, or the cold lake that I jump into and tolerate until I’ve adapted?

 

This is Why I Don’t Get Dates

It was a Saturday late morning or maybe right around noon, well past the time for pajamas at any rate, and I was at the grocery store. I had to run out to pick up a kid from a friend’s house in the midst of my Saturday morning homework binge for the second time that day and realized I needed milk and a couple key ingredients for a cake I was supposed to make that afternoon so I swung by the store. No big deal. As I was walking in I noticed my reflection in the store doors before they slid open and I thought to myself “Yup, this is why I don’t get dates.”

I’m not a bad looking person but my over-sized, ratty hoodie & semi-pajama pants tucked into the tops of my clunky winter boots were not doing me any favors nor was my total lack of grooming (maybe not total, I did brush my teeth before going out). It’s not that I don’t care about myself or how I look, I do (really, I do!), but I have a very low level of caring about what other people think of me. Add that to never having enough time, running (late) in five different directions regularly, and often being sleep deprived…And, yup, I’m pretty sure this is exactly why I don’t get dates.

Truthfully I do get dates when I try. The two separate times I attempted online dating I got lots of attention. Some of it was even the kind I wanted and resulted in conversations and even a few dates. For a hot minute there back in January I actually thought I had a thing going with a guy I met online, like a dating-almost-relationship thing. It was pretty cool. Even though I didn’t go into online dating looking for a relationship I liked This Guy and we hit it off really well right from the start (I’m pretty sure he liked me quite a bit too). There were a lot of regular back & forth text messaging and phone conversations, and some good dates with only funny-awkward moments  not bad-awkward moments. At one point I remember telling a friend that I was a little worried about how much I liked This Guy because surely he had a harmatia (basically a fatal flaw) and it was going to become apparent sooner or later and then I’d just be disappointed. This was the first time I saw possible future potential in a person I was interested in who was also interested in me. By long term potential I just mean the possibility of dating on the reg for an extended period of time. I’m not planning weddings or naming babies here, people. Been there, done that, got the  t-shirt   divorce to prove it. No need to go back there any time soon if ever.

But then…dating This Guy fell off into the abyss. I’m not real sure what actually happened but I’m going to go with it was him not me. I think the craziness of my life freaked him out a little.

I have five kids and a lot of responsibility. I keep myself going 90 mph until I crash…then I pick myself up and do it all over again. That’s just the way my life goes right now. Yes, I realize some of this is my choice but I’ve got a lot to get done and this is just the way I do it.

So, even though the dude said he understood that I wasn’t looking for someone to jump in and really participate in my life, I think he got overwhelmed. I say I think because he kind of just got weird after having to cancel a couple dates (due to kid issues, which I totally get and was okay with)…

and then suddenly stopped. Yup, just stopped. But only (right) after he bought concert tickets a month in advance and then invited me to go. Seriously, the last conversation I had with him was via text when he asked if I wanted to and was able to go to a concert we had been talking about. He even sent me a picture of the tickets after he bought them.

Mixed messages much?

I was a little confused for a while. Clearly This Guy didn’t want to see or even talk to me anymore, but what about the concert tickets? Was he just going to pop back up in a couple weeks and be like “Hey, babe, how about that concert?” I didn’t think so but why buy them if he was already on the way out? Also, I really did want to go to the concert with or without him. I even texted after not hearing from him for a couple weeks and asked if he wanted me to buy the tickets off him. I got nothing.

After a bit of angry & confused ranting I realized this was a good thing.

It gave me a moment to really think about why I don’t get dates. Or, rather, why I get dates but then get The Fade out Why it seems like it’s good and then it just ends. It’s happened a few times to different degrees in the oh-so-short time that I’ve been dating and I can’t help but ask What am I doing wrong here?

Here’s what I came up with:

1) My initial enthusiasm is misleading.

When I meet someone new that I’m interested in and enjoy talking to I tend to “talk” to them a lot whether that be actual conversations or back-and-forth text sessions. I’m all like “Ohhh look, New and shiny!” and I get kind of caught up in that. Also, I don’t interact with many adults on a regular basis so this person becomes my new social outlet. Maybe that’s overwhelming to people…or makes them think I’m more needy than I am. Really I just want someone to play with.

2) I lose sight of what I’m looking for.

I got married when I was 20. I was married for technically 13 years and logistically over 11. I don’t really know how to date. Yes, I’ve heard you just do it and make the rules up as you go along, but I seem to fall into something exclusive and more serious minded way faster than I mean to. Maybe it’s habit. I know married dynamics, I don’t know what casually dating looks like from the inside. I really don’t want a relationship right now, I want someone to go do fun stuff with and spend time with on a semi-regular basis but the way I act when I start seeing someone might not be saying this. I’m not sure exactly how to make that different. It takes time to re-learn long term learned behavior I guess.

3) I really don’t have time. 

On maybe the second date I went on with This Guy we were having a casual conversation about our respective limited post-divorce dating experiences. I mentioned that my lack time and availability was an issue in my previous attempts at dating. he immediately assured me that it wouldn’t be with him. Like me, he had gotten used to being alone, had other stuff (parenting, work, etc) going on, and enjoyed a certain amount of personal space so not being able to spend copious amounts of time together wasn’t a problem. A few more dates into it when things were starting to get a little more physical he made the comment that he didn’t want this to become just a physical thing and could see that happening due to the time thing. I think not having as much time or flexibility with my time made it weirdly intense way too soon which then makes it seem more serious than it should.

4) I date the wrong guy…over and over.
Every person dating, whether just casually or with hopes of finding “the one”, has a pattern that they tend to repeat. I’ve just realized what mine might be and can see how I really have been perpetuating it.
I’m not going to go into more detail than that right now because this is deserving of it’s own blog post methinks. Suffice it to say, I date the wrong guy…on purpose. It’s safe and familiar. But obviously it doesn’t work. I may need to convince myself that I do want something that can work.

So now that I see some of the things that might be standing in the way of dating success (whatever that means), what am I going to do about it?
Well, I’m going to take the lessons I’ve learned and try again armed with a little more self-awareness this time. …once this semester is done. I really am way too busy for any dating right now!

Oh and, in case you were wondering, I ended up getting my own concert tickets and going with my co-blogger (She blogged about it too). And I didn’t see This Guy there. Not that I was really looking. I just scanned,really, and it was a smaller venue. Pretty sure I would’ve seen him if he was there. Who wastes perfectly good concert tickets like that? Jeez!


The Downside of Hope

My dad used to say “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
He’s a retired dentist, my dad, and he used that saying a lot with his patients. When there was a filling that was deeper than it looked on the x-ray to the point that it might need a crown, he would sit the patient up and explain the situation showing them the x-ray and pointing out the cavity and what made doing a filling iffy.
“We can do the filling today but it might end up needing a crown. I have to tell you about the possibility but we can hope for the best. Let’s hope for the best and be prepared for the worst…just in case.”
He was willing to give the filling, a much cheaper and less extensive procedure, a chance to work before doing a crown unless ,of course, they just wanted to go ahead and do the crown. Most dentists would just do the crown. My dad hoped. It’s one of the reasons so many of his patients loved him.
We had this one guy who was terrified of coming to the dentist even just for a cleaning. One time he fled the office right before his appointment, just bolted. After a bit the guy got to the point where he’d stay but he was always pretty nervous. He used to say that when people asked him what dentist he went to he would lie because he didn’t want my dad getting so busy that it’d be difficult to get in to see him.

When I was nineteen I went to work for my dad. I had just had a baby and he needed open heart surgery which meant I had to keep the same insurance through that whole process. Pre-existing conditions were an issue with changing insurances fifteen years ago. I was paying for the insurance since I had stopped working at the job I had when my son was born that provided it. I didn’t really know about things like Medicaid and Government assistance so I moved back “home” and started working in my dad’s office. This was a less than ideal situation for both me and my parents; there was a bit of resentment about the whole teenage pregnancy thing.
Up until that point I didn’t like my dad very much. I was the classic stubborn, rebellious, independent teenage and he the very strict, conservative father.
That never goes very smoothly.
It wasn’t until I begrudgingly went to work for my dad that I saw him as a person and not just a parent.
Working with my dad and seeing how much his patients valued and appreciated him made me respect my dad as a person. It was an unexpected benefit of the job. Many of the lessons I learned through working with my dad have stayed with me over the years. The whole “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” philosophy is just one of them.
But the point of this isn’t to brag up my dad or tell tales of my teenage years, really it’s about dating.
Maybe it’s a little weird that I started a post about dating with a story about my dad but I promise this is not going to be about “Daddy issues”.
I repeat, there are no Daddy Issues here.
Just wanted to make that clear.

It’s been about three months since my first real, actual, bona fide post divorce date. This is my first foray into the world of adult dating. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it all wrong. Is there even a right way to do this? But I am learning a lot, about people and about myself.
I don’t really consider myself a cynic, though I’m pretty sure things come out sounding a little cynical once in a while. (At this point my co-blogger is probably thinking A little?? Once in a while?? )
I prefer to call myself a realist, especially when it comes to people. You have to deal with people as they are, not as you think they should be or as you really, really want them to be.
People are who they are (I wrote a whole post about this a while back) and they are going to be who they are. No matter how much you hope for a person or a situation to change it’s not going to. It’s just not…unless something about it changes. People don’t change unless they want to change and even then it’s hard. Being realistic about this makes for less disappointment in life.
I know this.
But sometimes I act like I don’t and think and behave like people will be different.
Dating has been one of those situations.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not deluding myself into thinking that I’ll find my “soul mate” (I think the concept of a soul mate is pretty much bullshit) or that some knight in shining armor is going to come sweep me off my feet and take care of all my problems so we can gallop off into a rosy sunset and live “happily ever after” (another concept that I think is bullshit…happily ever after sounds pretty boring anyhow).
No, I know that that’s just not reality; it’s a common misconception based on the lies that Hollywood and Disney have conspired to sell us in a mostly successful attempt to keep us unhappy with our “normal” lives so we’ll buy the shit they’re selling.

I recently found myself getting upset because people behaved exactly how they told me they would. People will show you or even tell you who they are. Believe them. I know, I know you think they’ll be different because the situation is different. Because you are different.
They won’t and it’s probably not even if you are which, face it, chances are you’re not. We all have a tendency to recreate the same situation over and over again. I’m trying really hard to be aware of this and avoid some of the situations I’ve been in as far as relationships go.
There have been some not so fun ones and I don’t want to do that again…ever.

Originally I was going to title this post “But What if he Doesn’t Call?”
See there was this guy I had (have? I’m not really sure at this point) been seeing. It was a fun little thing; I liked him (thus far) and was pretty sure he liked me (since he said so) and we were enjoying each others company. Of course, I’ve got a lot of demands on my time and so did he so we weren’t actually seeing that much of each other but, really, that was okay.
This guy, he did this weird thing though.
He called me…regularly… like on the phone.
Yeah, apparently that little text machine I carry around in my pocket is good for talking on too.
Who knew?
At first I thought “Huh. This is interesting.” but then I got used to it and kind of liked talking to someone who actually wanted to have a conversation with me on a regular basis. It was pretty cool.
And then it stopped.
Okay, maybe not stopped but became significantly less frequent. We played phone tag for a few days which was followed by a couple real short conversations. There were a few “I’ll call you later”s that didn’t happen. That’s just irritating.
There was a little bit of a shift in the dynamic somewhere in there. I was calling him (or texting things like “Call me when you get a chance.”) more and more. It seemed like he was “getting the chance” less and less.
I started to wonder if I was pestering him. Wait, isn’t the guy I’m seeing supposed to be interested in talking to me too? What’s going on here?
So I decided it was time to give it a rest and let him come to me so to speak.

This is where hope comes in.
I really hoped that he would call me. It was constantly on my mind, obnoxiously so.
I am NOT one of those girls who obsesses over whether a boy will call or not. I’m not! As I let time pass and waited for this guy to call me I realized I had to prepare myself for the possibility that he wouldn’t.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. It’s pretty difficult, even for a realist like me, to be mentally prepared to essentially be rejected.

And there it is, the downside of hope.
Disappointment. Rejection. Possible pain.
Is it worth it if that’s the possible outcome?
That is the question.

Online Dating: The First Month

Way back in the thick of the divorce proceedings my lawyer told me that she advises her clients not to date until at least six months after their divorce is finalized. My response was something along the lines of “Six more months once this is done? But we’ve been separated for well over a year now.”
It wasn’t that I was in a hurry to get out there and start dating but that just seemed like a long time to wait after an already long time of being alone and not much fun.
Really I just wanted some fun.
She sent me a couple articles about dating during divorce and why not to. They made sense, saying stuff about healing and messiness, hurting your former partner’s feelings, and whatnot. I got it.
Plus my lawyer is a pretty smart lady and seems to know what she’s talking about most the time .
Not that I wish I was back in the midst of the divorce mess but I do miss talking to her on an at least weekly basis.
For the most part I took my lawyer’s advice and just laid low for a few months, spent some time healing and adjusting. If you’re a regular reader I’m sure you’re aware it’s an ongoing process and far from complete. Truthfully I knew I wasn’t even ready to start thinking about dating. Sure I was (and am) lonely but I still felt like such a mess inside and was dealing with that and learning to be okay with and by myself. Frankly, the idea of sharing this mess (or even letting someone else see it) was a little terrifying. It still is.
Lately though things have been changing and it’d been five months since the divorce was finalized. As I’m starting to accept that my life is what it is I find myself feeling ready to move forward. So I took the first tentative steps into the strange new (to me) world of dating.
I created a profile on an online dating site.

I don’t get out much and have a wicked shy streak when it comes to talking to people I don’t know.
And by people I mean any guy I’m even remotely interested in.
Let’s just say I’m the master of the deer in the headlights look.

deer in headlights

It’s no good for meeting new people. Plus I have this crazy seven night in a row work schedule and a bunch of kids that are pretty demanding of my time combined with a severe lack of single friends (or maybe just available friends) to play wing man; it was very clear that online dating was going to be my best bet for now.

Creating a profile was almost painful. Like many people, I just don’t like writing about myself or putting personal information out there. Plus what the heck are you supposed to say on these things? But I did try and came up with something appropriately vague and mildly clever.
Finding an acceptable picture or two to use in my profile was another small hurdle. I have next to no decent pictures of just me especially since they recommend you use accurate pictures and I cut a lot of hair off last year. Putting pictures of me with my kids on a dating website seems weird and maybe a little counter productive. That kind of thing might work for guys (Awww, look at that nice, caring nurturing man with his kid (or puppy). Clearly he is good mating/father dating material.)
I’m pretty sure a woman with a picture of a kid does NOT evoke the same kind of reaction from a guy.
But thanks to the wonder of photo cropping I found a couple of good enough pictures to hack my kids out of and use. None of them are great, a couple are post run pictures and I am wearing sunglasses in all three of them.
However that has not seemed to make a difference.

online dating

Guess what…People like me (online people at least). I get at least a few messages everyday…well, everyday that I go online.
Sure many of them are the type of people who message with a simple “Hi” or “How are you?” And don’t seem to be able to or want to say anything after that.
(I thought the point here was to meet people and discern whether or not you wanted to meet them in person and possibly date them. How does that work if you don’t “talk” to them?)
Or the type of people who open with lines like “Hey there girl you’ve got a rocking bod.” followed with “what you doin’ this morning?”
(I’m pretty sure that’s code for Want to come have sex with me right now? ….Uh, nope, not so much.
Maybe that’s a product of being online late at night/very early in the morning. That’s when most those messages come through.)
One guy messaged “Hey sexy wyd luv ur smile an bod lol im bored in (a town near where I live) lol”
(Seriously? I know using proper grammar can be a challenge sometimes but do people not even use full words anymore? I thought you were trying to impress me here!)

That’s a little better than the people who lead with something vulgar (I’ll spare you any actual quotes on this one…use your imagination).
Maybe not though, at least with them you know exactly what they’re looking for straight off. They’re definitely not hiding anything.
Some guys do have slightly better lines like “I also wanted to write you because I liked the fact you have a nice look to you. I like to call it “classic beauty” Very nice if you don’t mind me saying. :)”
Or my favorite “You’re the most beautiful woman on this site.”
(Yeah, that’s just statistically improbable…especially since I didn’t even use good pictures.)
One guy did compliment my use of adjectives.
I really liked that.
Overall the quantity (if not the quality) of attention I’ve gotten in my fledgling attempt at online dating has been a nice little ego lift. Sometimes I sit back and think to myself (and maybe out loud to my co-blogger) “Jeez, imagine the result I’d be getting if I had actually found good pictures to use. Maybe some where I’m not wearing running clothes or even have clean hair and make-up on.”

In all fairness, I’m not that great at messaging people either. It’s hard to figure out what to lead in with when you only have a few lines in a profile write up to work with. I’ve said things like “You live in (the same town as me) and can’t stand Country music? You may be a rarity. Also, a fully functional brain is usually more of a dating profile asset than a shirtless pic.”
or “So you say you love dogs but you don’t have one. What’s up with that? Do you want mine? She can be kind of annoying sometimes and I’m tired of feeding her.
P.S.- That was just a joke. I would never give my dog to a stranger.”

I’ve even been known to say things like “You sure are pretty but you don’t say much.” when there really is nothing in their profile. (Don’t worry I was only that lame once and I blame a special kind of tiredness that produces a unique level of ridiculousness in me.)

For some reason none of those guys responded to the messages I sent them…at all. Nothing.
Clearly I am no online dating Don Juan either.
But I figure if someone responds well to such odd attempts to start a conversation they’re probably worth talking to.
It’s even worked a few times. I’ve had some fun back and forths, a few good conversations, and have even gotten some actual real life dates.
That’s right, dates with real in person people (only two, don’t get too excited).
Nothing spectacular but it’s a start and that’s something.