Sunday, November 28, 2010

Self Doubts and the First Date

I struggle with the idea that I’m just too old to date. I squint into the mirror and notice wrinkles as I apply my mascara. What am I thinking? I remember on TLC’s What Not to Wear, Stacey London is always cautioning the “mature” woman not to go too sexy in her dress because against a twenty-four year old, the twenty-four year old wins every time. I think about wearing a turtleneck, but since I already have my makeup on I’ll just be wearing a turtleneck with makeup on it. Besides I’ll end up looking like Diane Keaton in her last four movies. Still Diane Keaton looks good, maybe the turtleneck? Instead I go with the lucky clothes.

Not unlike men who insist on wearing certain clothing to play sports in the belief it helps them win, I have lucky clothing. Realistically, they aren’t all that magical. While my snakeskin cowboy boots caught the eye of the dentist I dated once, I didn’t. They also went along on a date with an engineer I never saw again. Maybe the boots are off-putting. Perhaps men think it is odd choice since I’m not riding a horse and do not run a dude ranch. They could be wondering about other peculiar choices I might make. Still, I pull them on along with my miraculous skinny jeans.

My skinny jeans are not those tight peg leg pants, but jeans that are guaranteed to make me look skinny. You’ve seen them in the store and wondered if they worked. Well, they’re definitely tighter than my regular jeans. Putting them off requires the same amount of work as pulling on a pair of pantyhose resulting with the same tight, lifted rear. I may not look skinnier, but definitely tighter.

Onto the shirt where I worry about how low the neckline should be. Since I’m no Dolly Parton and have no implants to showcase I settle for modest neckline, especially since that is all I own. It’s probably the easiest decision. Going for my turquoise turtle earrings, I feel like I am readying myself for a ritual sacrifice.

I never dated much when I was younger and I remember why. I couldn’t stand the anxiety when I waited to see if a guy would like me. It’s odd I never took the power in my hands and rejected them. I usually settled with one fellow, no matter how a bad of a fit he was, and stayed. It just seemed easier. That’s my whole dating history and marriages summed up in one sentence.

I decided maybe after an Oprah episode that I deserved better. I wanted a man who appreciated me exactly how I am and not for what I could do for him. Realistically, all women know that we’ll stop the pampering shortly after marriage. It gets old, then, all we have is a man who is resentful he’s no longer the sun in our universe. On the hand, we might resent him for being so self-centered and demanding. Thinking back wasn’t this inevitable. Ahh, dating, romance, relationships—am I any good at any of these?

As I brush my hair I wonder if there is any evidence I should date. I’ve had lukewarm relationships in the past. Men who wanted to marry me, but I was leery for various reasons. My dog was a better companion. I think that he is my measuring stick. A man has to outdo my dog and he’s been working it for the last nine years. Truth is he’s still pampered so apparently he knows stuff the men don’t. Every time I walk into a room I’m wonderful, the best thing that has ever happened to him up there with bacon.

Spraying my last spritz of perfume I’m almost ready. My mind set has changed from being rejected which I sometimes am to comparing men to my dog. Men my age are so different from young men. Young men are more willing to take chances and go out with anyone just for fun. If it doesn’t work it’s no big deal. After getting to the first date with a seasoned gentleman I think I should be able to do mediation for major companies. The second date must be more like the Middle East Peace Talks. I might have to call in Jimmy Carter for help.

I’m ready at least I think I am. Funny thing is I try to appear cool and confident when I’m the opposite. How did that cell phone get in my hand? I put it down without calling and making some silly excuse. Isn’t that him pacing in front of the restaurant? It’s show time. What am I doing I could be home sitting on my couch watching television…and we all know how exciting that is. Stupid eHarmony commercial. He turns and smiles, a big delighted I’m glad to see you smile. When I’m close enough he reaches out his hand to take mine, says my name before enveloping me into a hug. Now I remember why I’m doing this.

Tell me about your doubts if you’re dating or past doubts if you’re in a relationship. Next time, I have a handful of single guys who divulged what they go through in the dating process. It isn’t as easy or as wonderful from the male point of view as I thought

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Awkward Stage

Okay, let’s admit it, aren’t all stages of dating awkward? Maybe after seeing each other for about six months it’s less awkward. By that time, you decided or he has decided that you don’t suit. Then it is onto a different awkward stage. I’m going to start with the phone call awkward. I’ve gone over my online prospects. Emailed back and forth a few times, but now it is time to step up the game to the phone call level.

This is nerve wracking for me because I truly feel like it is a game and I was never good at sports. By myself, I would sink that basket almost every time. Well, maybe that was when I was by myself…in my imagination. Same with the phone call, I’m brilliant before I get on the phone. In reality, there will be awkward silences. Probably due to the fact, I’m worried that my voice is too low or raspy. Then there’s my accent. Is it too late to develop a faux British accent? For all my worries, things often don’t even progress to this stage.

Some men don’t really want to date. They rather like the prospect of dating as opposed to the actual date or at least that is the way it seems to me. I had a year-long email relationship to only have the man disappear from cyberspace after we arranged to meet. Of course, you’re wondering why I continued to email for an entire year? He was sweet and it was nice to get his upbeat messages. When I decided to push to meet he seemed all for it in an ambivalent way.:) I used tickets to a comedy club as my lure, but about two weeks before the actual event he cut all contact. He did not respond to my emails. I couldn’t bring myself to call. A woman needs some pride. A few of you are saying married. Perhaps, he just realized it.

Most guys want to talk on the phone. They are going through their own checklist. No doubt, they peered at my tiny profile picture wondering how old it is and how much it has been photo shopped.:) The next step is voices. A low masculine timber does it for me, add a slight accent, even a Kentucky one, and I begin to melt. Still, there are so many pitfalls in the call. I can only list my own. All I do at work all day is talk and basically make up things as I go. It makes sense a phone call would be a no brainer, which translates to no brain function of any measurable type while using the phone.

The first phone call is a minefield everything from not having a clue what to say to not being able to make decipherable sounds emerge from my throat. I called a gentleman that I was meeting and I croaked hello. Maybe he thought it was a bad phone connection, but at least he didn’t hang up. Then some men just don’t talk, never mind croaking. After keeping up both sides of the conversation and introducing topics, I’m whipped. Normally it isn’t that difficult having a conversation with myself, but with another person involved it is exhausting. I may not make my decision to mark Mr. Incommunicado off the list, but the pencil is definitely in my hand. I am puzzled why a man with such a great picture seems to be lacking a personality. Don’t answer this, I know.:)

Moving on to the next phone call, usually the men send me their numbers so I can call at my convenience. It is hard to catch me at home. Perhaps they might think I am screening my phone calls, which I am, but I will pick up if able. That’s why I like to call the first time. My college age daughter is very curious about my prospects and will offer comments. She will also park herself nearby if she thinks I am talking to a man. My taste and hers aren’t exactly the same.

I am hoping to attract an active, intelligent man with humor and charm. She, on the other hand, is hoping I latch on to someone rich who will spoil me rotten and it will spill over on her. Maybe she’s hoping for an international businessman who might whisk the family off to the British Isles. I dated an international businessman once and the most exotic place he ever spirited me off to was Benihana’s. So I didn’t share my daughter’s enthusiasm for men who would spoil her.

Off to awkward conversations, which are really information gathering missions in disguise. CIA could get hints from online daters. Is he going to say anything totally weird that kills any interest? As a hard-core dog person, I find a man without a dog slightly suspicious. In truth, I guess I am looking for reasons to disqualify a guy. Why waste time with someone who would not be a good fit? The usual conversations center on work, children, and hobbies. I faked my way through entire sports conversations. Because I have sons and work with the football coach, I am able to fake sports.:)

Why do this? I don’t know how to not do this. The man starts talking about what he knows and I respond. It is a classic awkward conversation. There are the conversations where the man talks about his various exploits and I listen, another type of awkward conversation. There is the dreaded ex conversation where I feel a bit like a therapist. Then there is the conversation where everything clicks. My daughter goes by several times and raises her eyebrows as I giggle. She mouths the words, “Geek Humor.” How did she know we were talking about Star Trek? Then it happens.

He asks what I’m doing for the weekend. The date talk. I managed to make it all the way to the date talk. Now, I just have to make it to the date. I have high hopes for the date, but also high anxiety.

Can you remember your most awkward conversation? While I used to think it was the time I asked Roy to the Sadie Hawkins Day dance in 9th grade. A recent conversation won hands down. A prospect wanted me to explain why I was divorced in detail as in what I did to cause the divorce. I know what I did I got married. As for him, I hung up.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Online Dating: Can’t Buy Me Love…

Well, maybe I can at least find out if there are likely men in the area. That’s my first thought as yet another commercial comes on featuring a smiling couple who met online. Let’s face it. It’s Friday night and I am alone at home watching the Seinfeld marathon. Besides, they are having a free trial period; surely if I’m quick I can snag a man without even joining. That’s my plan…along with a several thousand plus other people.

Currently there are more adult single people in the United Stated than people who classify themselves as married or co-inhabiting according to the US Census. With those type of numbers, why be alone on Friday night? I do wonder if they counted the men in prison, mental institutions, and on life support. If so, that really decreases the numbers, but still I grab the laptop. I know the drill. I’m no online dating novice. Those photos when you initially open the site of people in your city do not live in your city. First of all, I haven’t seen them anywhere. The smooth face males with soulful eyes, garbed in tailored clothing would stand out among the grizzled, tired men in NASCAR jackets in my town. I did see them on the promos for various other dating sites. That’s because the smaller sites are interconnected.

You might sign up with and suddenly you are receiving mail and offers from and (I made up the names, but with my luck they will be a real sites.)The joining fee is only about $30, so you might join the initial group, but not really get many appropriate matches. There is the thought of joining another add-on group to increase your odds. Resist. You basically are paying for the same pool of men. Only people who joined one of the interlocking groups get email offers. The ones who can afford the commercials offer you more people to choose from.

Knowing what I know, I signed up with the granddaddy of dating sites for my free trial. I have ten days—that sounds like a lot, but it isn’t. There is the initial processing—who knows what goes on there—before you are sent matches. Then, of course, you pick through your matches which arrive without photos to decide if any suit. Everyone knows men tend to be attracted to a woman’s outward appearance. As a woman, I like to think I’m not that shallow, but I would like a photo. That gives me a hint. A man who can’t even manage a smile for a dating website is not someone I’m interested in. Better yet, is the man holding aloft an oversized margarita in a bar. I would definitely pass on the man posing with the Hooter girls. Photos tell us so much, especially the photos a man picks to interest a potential date. Unfortunately, I have no photos.

All I have to go on is a few words on a profile. Words he may not have written. Daughters, sisters, even mothers have written profiles for the men in their lives. I even offered to write a profile for an ex-boyfriend I felt especially guilty breaking up with. I do find some profiles that interest me and send a wink or a comment. Be cautious ladies. Some of the low-end sites allow you to IM the person immediately. Often IMing is used by men in relationships for a thrill, to check the waters, or even as a bit of a game when a bunch of guys are together. You may not be IMing the man you saw on the profile because you’ll never actually meet him. Know who you are talking to—this becomes a bit tricky.

I’ve overheard my high school students talking about creating profiles online. Of course, they tried to create a profile that met their teenage fantasies. It must have met a great deal of older male fantasies because they got a great deal of hits. They used a photo from the Swedish Bikini Ski Team. It was a great game for these guys to respond to letters from lovelorn men. I mention this because online daters need to be careful.

Use a nickname instead of your real name; be vague about where you live, mention a nearby town, but not yours. Watch who is in your photos. As a newbie, I used my name, the exact small suburb of a larger city where I lived, and I had a picture of my large monstrosity of dog and me. The end result was a match I rejected started following me around town yelling my name. I joked I moved to get away from my stalker, but I did move. Watch what you reveal and how soon you reveal it. It’s better not to reveal anything messy online.

Please be careful of the too good to be true men. They write beautifully and if you actually paid for a membership you’ll see their extreme hotness factor. Shock of all shock, they’re interested in you. Your wonderful online friend thinks you might be soul mates…it is almost like a romantic novel. Don’t spend too much time on this one because he’s not real and will be asking you for money soon. Been there, did that, didn’t send money, but sent the picture around to all my friends to identify. He was identified as a quarterback for an NFL team. Back to the actual men or what I think are the actual men.

Okay, I sent off a few nods and winks to guys I might be interested in. I also got a few back. Now is the time to exchange the stilted questions. I make in fun of these, but in truth what do you really say when talking to someone you don’t know? If I was good at this, I wouldn’t be online! Some reply, some don’t. One or two that reply might say something totally weird. The pool of matches just got significant smaller. This isn’t going as well or as quick as I expected. It seems like we all have work and life to clog up our free time when we could be online. Time is running out as the company is so quick to remind me. It takes almost six months they cheerfully point out to find the right one. Each time I login they flash their join-up now price, which is too high.

On the last day of the trial, they drop their prices about 75%. I join because they dropped their prices and there were a few guys I just wanted to know what they looked like and continue to get to know them.

Join me for part two: which includes more truth and awkward first dates. Share your online experiences.