ABCs of Dating – O and P (Part 5 of 8)

O for Online Dating

I frequently ask people how they met their spouses – looking for ideas, of course.  It seems that the most stable relationships are those between couples who met during high school or college.  This doesn’t help me, since I am far beyond high school and college.  Other than friends setting up blind dates, it seems like the only remaining method of meeting men is through online dating.

I’ve had computer access since I was a teen, and I began online dating in my 20s, and I am writing this while contemplating my upcoming 42nd birthday.  Back then, there were free personals sites, like Yahoo, and there were no pay dating sites.  Now, the free sites are few and far between, and many sites are available at premium prices.

Over the years, I have probably used most of the online dating services at one time or another.  I’ve tried free sites and paid many dollars for the pay sites, with no “happily ever after.”

In my 20s, I was willing to e-mail or message potential dates, but I was not willing to meet them in person.  The Internet was full of the unknown, and I was far too cautious to risk meeting anyone.  My comfort with meeting strangers from the Internet has evolved over the years.

In a recent foray into online dating, I found a few nice candidates and sent messages, and the responses indicated the potential Mr. Right was already in a relationship and simply hadn’t deleted his profile.

That brings up the first issue with online dating sites.  When I start using a site, it is with the idea of finding someone within a few weeks, which means an appropriately good candidate also has to be online and available around the same time.  It’s hard to find this combination, at least in my smaller dating market (age and location).  Let’s face it, a woman in her early forties in northwest Ohio does not encounter the same dating pool that a 25-year-old in New York City does.

Another issue I personally have is “relationship gap”.  You may have heard of “employment gap”, which is when you have a large expanse of time unemployed. Employment gaps look bad on resumes, and explaining the gaps is an issue when job-hunting.

Relationship gaps sometimes also need to be explained, mostly because there are so many lies and omissions involved in the getting-to-know-you process in dating.  If there’s a multi-year gap in the story of someone you met online, then it’s good to ask questions.  The gap could be hiding a really bad relationship your date wants to forget or it could even hide a jail sentence.

In my case, it is simply a really lengthy era of singleness.  I simply have not met “the right one”.  And yes, sometimes I do wonder if I’m not pretty enough, too fat, or just a horrible person.  But then, I look around and see there are women who are fatter, uglier and/or bitchier than I and they have spouses.

Another huge issue with online dating is the fun factor, or the lack of fun.  It isn’t enjoyable to view profiles one after another.  They all seem the same after a while.  I’m looking at men in their forties.  Even the pictures appear the same after a while.  Many have mustaches, receding hair lines and glasses.  Frequently, the pictures are selfies taken in the car.  Many call themselves fun-loving.  What does that even mean and why do they take selfies in the car?

Most say they don’t play games or want games, and I don’t know that that means either.  Their descriptions make them sound wary and weary of the dating scene.

I read one man’s profile that explained he was very picky about wanting to meet a good, devout Christian woman, and made it clear very few women could live up to his standards.  However, he used the word “your” when he meant “you’re”, and correct usage of those words is one of my standards.  He seemed eager to rule out potential candidates, and well, two can play at that game.

Oh, maybe that’s what they mean by games!  The race to rejection is very real, but I wouldn’t call it a game.  It’s just that neither party wishes to be rejected, so it’s a race to see which can reject the other first.

The friendly, welcoming profiles are few and far between, and the profile and pictures act as advertising for the potential dates.  It’s hard to start a conversation with a man if he doesn’t give enough information in his profile to work with.

It’s unfortunate that the world of dating has come to this.  I hope another method of finding compatible mates comes along.  With my personal lack of success in online dating, I understand how I could be tempted to apply for television’s “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” and let ABC do the vetting.  Since I’m not a 25-year-old ex-model, it’s not likely to happen.

 

P for Pre-judging

As a Christian, I have been accused of being judgmental.  I don’t like it, because I have tried to train myself to not be judgmental, but word choice becomes an issue when trying to explain the concept of using good judgment, i.e., using wisdom and discernment to try and avoid situations or dates that won’t lead to good things.

Still, judging or pre-judging can be an issue in other areas.  For instance, in direct selling (like Tupperware, Partylite, Mary Kay, etc.), we consultants are told not to pre-judge a person.  You never know who may be interested in purchasing, hosting or signing up as a consultant unless you ask.  You can miss out on opportunities if you judge based on appearance, guessed income, or how full you think their calendars are.

Pre-judging can be a problem when assessing potential dates.  In online dating, it is hard not to judge a person based on appearance, since photos are pretty much required for any kind of online dating.  It’s good to have a mental image of a person with whom you’re communicating.  But sometimes it seems like men are only interested in women with supermodel looks and ignore the plainer among us.

I’m guilty of the same – I am absolutely not interested in long hair on a man.  Yuck.  I’ve seen nice couples where the man has a short hairstyle and is clean-shaven, but when I see their pre-wedding photos, he was actually a long-haired hippie.  I can’t predict based on a dating profile picture whether he will be willing to change his appearance.  The better choice, if elements in his profile interest me, is to initiate communication, since that’s the only way I’ll ever know if we click.  It is really hard to engage in online dating and not focus on appearance though, no matter how superficial it is.  One friend dislikes seeing sunglasses in pictures, because according to her, they seem dishonest when they are hiding their eyes.

There are other criteria for which I screen – for example, I am allergic to smoke, so right away, men who are smokers are off limits to me.  This is also an issue for those with asthma.  I am also allergic to dogs, so I have had little contact with them throughout my life, and even though I take medication for it, I don’t really know what to do other than pat their heads and say nice things.  Still, given my allergy, I cannot share my bed with dogs, and that eliminates a startling number of people.

Pre-judging can also be an issue we can’t control.  When friends are deciding whether they are willing to introduce you to a possible date, they are considering whether they think you’ll get along, if you’ll “make a cute couple,” etc.  What they don’t realize is that only the two of you can determine if you’re compatible or not.  It doesn’t matter if you make a “cute couple”, or whether your friends think you have things in common.  Many don’t know enough about you to judge how well you might click with someone.

Maybe we all need to work on not being judgmental – not judging by appearance, income, busyness, etc., and also not letting our own assumptions dictate others’ potential relationships.

 

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ABCs of Dating – M and N (Part 4 of 8)

This is the fourth installment in the 8-part ABCs of Dating series.  Enjoy!

M for Married Men and a Certain Meme

I occasionally see a meme on Facebook proclaiming, “Ladies, God will never send you another woman’s husband as your Mr. Right,” or something like that.  I am a single woman, and I have been propositioned by married men – two, to be precise.  Both call themselves Christians, which I point out because both claim to believe in the moral code of the Ten Commandments, including the sixth commandment, which clearly forbids adultery.  Adultery is impermissible not only for religious reasons, but it also goes against social customs.  People who are not religious generally frown on adultery as well.

Whenever I see this meme, I wonder what the poster is thinking. In my newsfeed, it has only been men who posted this.  Do they know someone in this situation?  And if they do, why are they warning the women?  Why aren’t they saying something to the married men?  Or is this the shotgun method* – are they posting in the hopes that someone in this situation will see it and come to her senses?

*Explanation of “shotgun method”:  a shotgun shoots a series of small spherical pellets that spread when they leave the shotgun’s barrel, so the shooter can aim generally rather than precisely in order for the pellets to hit a target.  In theory, if you shoot into a crowd of people, someone will be hit.  In this instance, someone is aiming the meme at their crowd of friends in the hopes that someone will find meaning in the post.

Regardless of their thought process, the issue of us single women being with married men is very real.  In both instances I encountered, the men had high-paying jobs and their wives were busy stay-at-home moms with several children and spent their time acting as chauffeur, cook, teacher, etc.  At the end of the day, they just didn’t have any energy left to have quality time with their spouse.  And that is the reason the men gave for looking outside their marriages for attention.

Another time infidelity appeared in my sphere, the issue was different.  The issue was not something the wife could control.  She was doing everything she was supposed to do, but her husband’s head was turned by a co-worker and they had an affair for a few months.  When he took his mistress and her children on vacation during the holidays, he realized he was cheating his own family of his time and attention (and financial resources), so he came to his senses and returned to his wife.  He was also a Christian.  (If you’re keeping track, all three instances of cheaters referred to are medical doctors.  Perhaps they confused the Hippocratic oath — “first do no harm” — with hypocrisy and made an oath to be hypocrites.)

I understand why a single woman could see adultery as a viable option.  I have been single for a very long time.  It is frustrating trying to find a good man that fits my criteria.  The qualities, characteristics and demographics of my Mr. Right are sometimes right there in a married man.  I can see how settling for Mr. Right Now is preferable to more dates with men who aren’t a good fit or fruitlessly searching online dating ads.  The process of dating and finding Mr. Right is really discouraging.  However, a relationship with Mr. Right Now can easily lead to more heartache, since he is legally and morally tied to another woman.

If you’re a married man, I cannot say this emphatically enough:  STAY AWAY FROM THE SINGLE WOMEN!  If you meet a single woman who describes her Mr. Right to you, and you realize you fit the description, also realize this:  she is NOT looking for you.  Seriously, it is insulting to expect a single woman to accept your scraps.  She is worthy of her own relationship, and she should not have to settle for whatever you can spare after taking care of yourself and your family.  Do you know someone, like a co-worker, who is single and also looking for a good, single woman?  Perhaps you should introduce them.  But if you are married, she is NOT looking for you.

If you’re a married woman and concerned about your husband straying, make sure you are giving him the attention he needs both in and out of the bedroom.  Still, please remember you cannot control your husband’s thoughts and actions.  You can only control yourself.

If your husband is in fact cheating, maybe you should ask him directly why he is treating you dishonorably, and also why he is treating his playmate with dishonor as well.  His actions affect your marriage and they also indicate a lack of concern for his adulterous partner’s reputation and well-being.

My advice is first to seek counseling, either for both of you or even just you.  It is important to get help for yourself.  When you are on an airplane listening to the pre-flight instructions, you are instructed that if there is an emergency situation where the oxygen masks come down, you must first put an oxygen mask on yourself, and then assist your children in affixing masks of their own.  The reason behind this is that if you can’t breathe, you cannot assist your children.  The same logic applies to counseling.  If your husband is unwilling to attend counseling with you, then you should go for yourself and care for your own emotional and mental well-being.

Second, seek advice from friends.  It is tricky to do this while maintaining discretion yet still getting the answers you seek.  It might be easiest to simply say you are working on your marriage, and you will likely receive general advice and book recommendations, or maybe even names of counselors or divorce attorneys, depending on your friends.

If you are a single woman and tempted to have an affair with a married man, answer these questions:

  • Do you think it will remain a secret?
  • Will any of your friends or family be caught in the middle of the situation? Will they have to lie for you or be put in any awkward situations?
  • Which friends, family and associates will change their opinion of you? And who will they tell?
  • Are you willing to accept scraps from this married man instead of having a relationship with a legally available man – one that you can be open and public about?
  • What is your reputation worth to you?
  • If it is against your beliefs to do this, will it change your opinion of yourself?

Hopefully, if you are single, like me, you also have avoided affairs and you too get to roll your eyes in annoyance when someone posts the condescending meme.

 

N for Naked

Now is a good time for something light-hearted.  You may have seen this on television – both Sex and the City and How I Met Your Mother showcased this kind of thing.  Occasionally, a date will appear naked in the hopes the female will take pity on him and/or be so overwhelmed with lust at the sight of his naked flesh that she will rip off her own clothes and engage in sexual relations.

It happened to me.

Oh, the joy of figuring out a name that starts with N for this one.  I considered nitwit and nincompoop, but I’ll use Norton instead.

Norton and I had a pleasant date and I invited him into my home.  We had a good conversation, and he initiated a foot rub that was very pleasant and relaxing.  He went to the restroom, and when he came out, he was naked!

Norton was from a country in the Middle East, so there were certain cultural gaps and communication issues.  He had already mentioned that he was surprised that I lived alone with no parental chaperone, and he wondered if I was loose or immoral because American women are depraved.  Evidently, he decided to test his theory.

I covered my eyes with my hands, did my best to be outraged, and demanded he get dressed and leave my home.  It was really hard as I had to hold back my laughter at the situation.  Was I supposed to be overcome with lust when I saw he was naked?  This was another time I needed a bouncer.  I shared this story with a friend afterward, and any time either of us mentioned his name for several weeks, the result was lengthy bouts of laughter.  The situation still makes me laugh.

So nothing happened with Norton, and he expressed embarrassment the next time I saw him, and then he broke up with me via voicemail.  We were incompatible at a basic level, since he was an atheist who mocked all religions.

We worked at the same place, and when our employer pink-slipped a couple hundred people a few months later, myself included, he did care enough to call me and check on my well-being.

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