People, take the initiative when it comes to online dating!

While holiday shopping this weekend, I ran into an old acquaintance. We have not seen or heard for one another in over a decade. She is now engaged and I am married. I asked her where she met her fiancé and she hesitated, made an awkward hand gesture and told me that she met her guy online. I smiled and shared that I used Match.com to find Mr. Right. She looked relieved that I too understood the benefits of online dating. The results are everywhere. If you are single and looking it is time…Get out there!

As I have mentioned time and time before, we need to move away from the stigma that online dating is for 24/7 World of Warcraft playing introverts! Not so! It is for your everyday busy young professional that simply does not have time to hit up the bar scene or participate in ten different extra curricular activities. If you are single and interested in dating there are now numerous free sites that can help you meet the right person.

I know what you are thinking. You have ten reasons ready to prove that online dating is not right for you. You are worried about your privacy. Ok, well then I suggest Match.com or a dating system you have to pay to view profiles. Only people seriously looking to date would pay for such a service so, the people that see you on there are also on the site for similar reasons. A coworker sees your Match.com profile…guess what – THEY ARE ON MATCH TOO! No one is going to pay $30 – $60 just to laugh at goofy dating profiles. It does not happen; not in this economy.

Ok ok, you are worried you will be matched up with a serial killer. Valid concern when considering the Craig’s List killer and all the other wackos abound. Well, here is an idea. Seriously vet these candidates before meeting them in a very public place. Email, talk on the phone and then meet in person. Google them! And obviously, for the love of all that is holy, meet in a public place. Do not go home with the person on the first night and use your best judgment when it comes to subsequent dates. Crazy people are everywhere. You have just as much of a chance meeting the next Charles Manson at the dry cleaner then you do on Plenty of Fish. Use your best judgment and you will be fine. The same advice applies to concerns around the person’s picture/statistics. You are worried they are lying about something. Ask for more information; get some facts before meeting them in public. Be educated and prepared.

Oh and how could I forget…you think that all the candidates online are looking for one thing…sex. Hey, I get it. It makes sense to me and I know I have explained this before. When I was on Match.com, I would get about ten emails a day. The majority of them would say “hey baby, you’re beautiful,” no questions about the content of my profile or how hilarious my tag line was and it was. The subtest of the messages were “I wanna get in your pants.” These fine gentleman did not put forth the effort to have a real conversation which let me know that they most likely were not interested in getting to know me. Again, pluck those suitors out of the running. Weed out the crap and communicate with people that sound like they have something to say.

In the world of online dating you can suspend shyness or your preconceived notion about how dating should work. Ladies, go ahead and “wink”/”poke” a profile that intrigues you. Hell, go on and message them about their profile. This is not 1960, you don’t have to wait for the Sadie Hawkins dance to make your move. You are in charge of your own dating destiny!

Listen, of course, there is going to be disappointment and like with anything, trial and error. Your first couple of dates might be duds, but you will learn better techniques and identifiers for creepiness as you trudge on. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but the fastest way to the light is the train…online dating is the Acela Express* of dating. Toot toot! Get onboard!

*Acela Express = way fast train

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Preview…

Up and until this point I have been sharing all the positive good things about Mr. Right and the progression of our relationship. In the beginning, that really was the case…things between us were damn near perfect. Our honeymoon phase lasted a long while and we/are were very much in love. However, like most things in life, reality does set in and there are significant downturns in even the strongest relationships. So, for the sake of objectivity and honestly, I do plan to delve into the dark side…it only seems fair. After all, life is hardly a fairytale and I ain’t no Cinda-freakin-rella.

See you on the relationship flip side ~ MB

Ireland…the Grande Finale

Mr. Right and I headed back down to the first floor bar at Murphy’s. While we were dining upstairs, the local crowd had filtered in. There were middle aged and older men toasting their pints and drinking away the last few hours of the weekend. They overheard Mr. Right’s accent and asked us where we were from. Upon hearing that we were American, a large political debate ensued. It was funny to hear an outsider’s view regarding Obama’s upcoming Presidency. The old men found the results of our election shocking and progressive where Mr. Right and I thought them par for the course considering our options (cough Palin cough cough gag). The bartender, who we also found was the owner and proprietor, was thrilled to host international guests and as a result kept our glasses brimming with Jameson’s.

As night progressed and we were quickly becoming the hot commodity at the local pub. We posed for pictures and toasted to our new found friends in Arklow. As the night wound down, I assessed my impractical shoe situation. Of course, I decided to trek into town that night wearing stiletto heals. The walk to the pub was most painful; the walk home would be downright torture. I chastised myself for needing to look cute. I asked the bartender if Arklow had a cab company. He laughed and offered to give us a ride to the B&B himself! How could the owner of the bar up and leave with all these customers? Grabbing his coat the bartender yelled, “Now don’t cha be pouring your own pints while I’m gone!”

Outside, Mr. Right and I piled into the bartender’s silver Mercedes and took of for our B&B (http://www.pinebrook.net/). It was the nicest gestures I can remember. Can you imagine a bartender in Philadelphia, Boston or New York abandoning his bar to drive a few patrons home? Can you believe a bar owner leaving a crowd of men unattended with all that alcohol? Unheard of but truly memorable. Back at the B&B, we waved off our new friend, thanking him for his generosity a hundred times over. We were on a high after our night of fun and classically Irish experience.

Back inside, I took a shower and got ready for bed. When I came out of the bathroom, Mr. Right was propped on the bed wearing a scowl oh his face. I attempted to cuddle, a gesture that was immediately rebuffed. He wanted to take a shower himself and was not interested in my affection. Ok, now that was clearly not in my head. This time I could not be accused of over sensitivity. We just had, what I thought, was the most awesome night! Why now that we are alone, had the dynamic shifted? As Mr. Right closed the bathroom door and turned on the shower, I started to cry. I had come halfway around the world to be rejected by the man I loved. All the effort and planning that went into making this trip magical was in vein. It was devastating.

Mr. Right emerged from the shower almost a half hour later; this was unusually long for him. Had he been trying to avoid me? Was he hoping I would be asleep so he could escape potential affection? I had enough. I confronted Mr. Right as he dressed for bed. Why was he being so cold toward me? How come in a crowd we could enjoy our night but one on one he shunned my company? His inconsistent mood was putting me on the defensive and creating a black cloud over our trip. His face looked sad. He sat on the bed opposite of me and held both my hands, “I know. You are right. I have been acting distant and holding you at arm’s length since we arrived,” he said.

“Why?” I wanted to know. I braced myself for the worst.

“I have something I want to give you,” he started. With that, he reached into his suitcase and pulled out a box. Next thing I knew Mr. Right was down on one knee. “I was going to wait until our night in the castle to give this to you, but I see now if I don’t get this off my chest I could ruin this entire vacation. I thought a long time about something special to give you on this trip, something meaningful that would show you how much I love you. I thought long and hard about the perfect gift and you know what it is? It’s me. Will you marry me?”

Mr. Right opened a navy blue box that held a sparkly diamond ring. For once in my life, I was speechless, utterly shocked, overjoyed and totally speechless. I cried, Mr. Right cried and we hugged each other for a long while. Mr. Right broke the silence. “You never said yes.”

I laughed. “Yes,” I answered.

Mr. Right confessed that he had been so nervous about the ring and proposal that he had been driving himself crazy. He had intended to wait for a romantic evening planned on day seven of the trip but in the meantime, he was constantly rehearsing his speech in the shower and throughout the night. The stress of waiting was keeping him up at night and making me miserable. For the sake of the trip and my feelings, the engagement came sooner then intended. As they say, the best-laid plans (of mice and men?) often go awry. I’m sure you catch my drift…

The proposal may not have gone as Mr. Right planned. There was no champagne or chocolate cake. We were not on our way to a romantic dinner or in a luxurious Irish castle. It was only Mr. Right and I in a small B&B somewhere in the middle of an Irish village. With the climactic proposal out of the way, Mr. Right slept easy. I on the other had lay awake staring at the ring. I was getting married.

Mr. Right….Ireland Day 2

I woke up the next day in Ireland feeling rested and much more like myself. While partaking in our first official Irish breakfast, the owner of the B&B recommend that we visit Avoca, in county Wicklow. It is the oldest working woolen mill in Ireland and Ireland’s oldest surviving business. Apparently, it was also the site of a popular BBC TV show, “Ballykissangel”. I myself never heard of the show…but maybe you have. My Mom makes me watch some horrible BBC show called Keeping Up Appearances, which proves that I’m not much for European sitcoms. In any event, Mr. Right and I were excited to experience something so rustically Irish. To the Mill!

That day, the Mill was closed for business but the retail stores were open. A few days before we arrived, Ireland was hit with a foot of snow. The snow has since melted but the weather conditions were considered extreme by the natives. Apparently, the weavers had not been to work in many days because of the conditions. Mr. Right and I were amused because the roads were clear of snow compared to what we were used to at home. No matter, we were able to walk around the grounds and look in the windows at the looms. The scenery around the old buildings was breath taking and we took some amazing photographs.

After making our purchases at the retail store, we went to Fitzgerald’s, an old Irish Pub. The only food they served was pizza. Weird, right? Anyway, it was the first time that day that we sat down and talked to each other with out the distraction of planning our day. Suddenly, I realized Mr. Right was acting rather strange and withdrawn. He was more concerned with the Barak Obama look-a-like at the end of the bar and oogling the inebriated the rugby team. This left me talking to who I can only assume was the town bag woman. I tried to tell her we were headed to Waterford the next day but in my Philadelphia accent, it sounded like “Wood-er-ferd”. Needless to say, she had no freaking clue what I was saying. I point to my glass of water….”wood-er?” Oh well, it was a lost cause. Smile and nod smile and nod…where the hell was Mr. Right? Oh, yes, how could I forget he was distracted and preoccupied! I wondered if he was upset at me for my lame attitude the day before. Perhaps the jet lag was staring to hit him too, or perhaps he was staring to think that I was Miss Wrong…

After lunch, we stopped by a shopping mall to peruse the Irish wears. We passed a jewelry store and Mr. Right asked me if I wanted to go in a look at rings. Rings? Holy Sweet Mother Mary….did he say RINGS? Odd coming from a man that was somewhat avoidant the majority of the afternoon. Anyway, I declined the offer and opted for the Irish version of TJ Maxx instead. I bought a shirt, which, I believe, was size 38. Apparently, I am fat in Ireland! Mooo. I kept thinking back to the rings, I should have agreed to go in the store and look. Why did I say no!! It just seemed unfair to the Irish jeweler knowing we had no intention of buying. In the back of my mind, I figured that engagement would be the next logical step for us but it seemed too soon to introduce the concept to Mr. Right. I did not want to be the pushy spinster; marriage wasn’t an immediate need. On the other hand, I did not mind the idea…especially not with Mr. Right.

After we freshened up at the B&B we headed into the town of Arklow to partake in dinner. At the first pub, we found out that dinner was already served. It was 8pm on a Sunday and most places closed their kitchen about an hour prior. We asked locals on the street where to eat and two men told us we could find a late night supper at Murphy’s. Inside, Murphy’s appeared to be another quaint Irish pub situation. We inquired about dinner and were told to head up a back staircase. Upstairs we found a lovely dining room, way beyond what I imagined from the pub scene below. Although the scenery was romantic, there was something still amiss with Mr. Right. His attitude couple with the ring suggestion of earlier was truly perplexing. What was going through his mind? I asked him if he was having a good time. Mr. Right brushed of the inquiry but something was wrong. Had he come all the way to Ireland to realize I was not the one for him? Could it be? But what about the ring comment? Ugh, what a bunch of horrible thoughts; there was only one thing left to do…drink whiskey!

Mr. Right…the Trip to Ireland

A few people have asked me why I have not posted lately. The truth of the matter is that things in my present life have been rather chaotic. My nine-to-five had always been a bit grueling, but as of late, it has started to become downright discouraging. I have always believe that it is important to have a work-life balance but lately I have not been doing a good job of enforcing such an attitude on myself. As I explained to Friend Blue yesterday, “The Man is getting me down.” In this challenging time, I realize how lucky I am to have supportive friends and loved ones. I am lucky enough to have people around me who tolerate hearing the same vent repeatedly knowing that one day I will get past my personal drama. Alas, it is time to abandon my pacifier, loosen my grip on the blankey, dry those baby tears and move on. With that said…I am back with a new story. Enjoy and thank you for being a friend…you know who you are.

Now, where did we last leave off? Ah yes, I went ahead and blurted out my love for Mr. Right. After all that preaching about letting him come to you, I was the one who broke that ice. There is an important distinction in this scenario. Things were quickly growing serious between Mr. Right and me. Our dates and conversations were unlike any I had experienced in the past, and Mr. Right constantly made comments about the future and how much he cared for me. I could sense that “love” was already between us…although the words had not been uttered. By saying them myself, I had nothing to loose. Mr. Right could have thanked me instead of reciprocating, but at least I would have been able to understand that we were not on the same page. When you are feeling something so strong and absolute, I say…go ahead and let it out. Own your feelings because when you are in that deep, you deserve to know whether the other person is on the same page.

Shortly after the love outing, Mr. Right and I decided that we would book our trip to Ireland. It would be my first time in Europe and I was excited to be sharing the experience with Mr. Right. We boarded a plane to the Emerald Isle five months later. It was February and we left from JFK airport in New York. The airplane was over three hours late to arrive but thankfully there was a pub at our gate. We enjoyed dinner and some drinks while anxiously waiting to depart the USA. Eventually we got on the plane. Mr. Right had some magical sleeping pills; he popped them and went right off into sleepy land. There I was, wide-awake and nervous about my first trip across the pond. I have never been a huge fan of air travel and let’s get serious people, they didn’t even turn off the lights in the cabin. It was an OVERNIGHT flight!

My anxiety built and I started to fear I would be up all night. The time difference in Ireland would have us arriving around 7:00AM Irish time. Our plan was to rent a car and drive south from Dublin to our first bed and breakfast in Arklow. It would be a two to three hour drive and I did not want to be a basket case on the first day of our trip. I always do this to myself…sense the need to sleep so urgently that sleeping becomes impossible. I took my blanket and lame mini pillow and prepared to force myself to rest. Chair reclined, pillow on shoulder, and blanket over the head like a navy blue ghost on Halloween. Hellooo, remember the cabin lights?? Gloriously, I began to sleep. I have a faint memory of the flight attendant calling my name and telling me to upright my ghostly self into my seat and out of the aisle space. Is this even possible, could she have looked up my name on the flight register? I might never know.

As we landed in Dublin about six hours later I clocked about four hours of shut eye. By the time we secured our rental car and GPS (most necessary when traveling in Ireland), it was about 9:00AM. On so little sleep, I was practically incoherent. Mr. Right was giddy and excited which only made me want to bang my head against the dashboard. I could not even find amusement around the whole “wrong side of the road” phenomenon; only fear of dying in what felt to me like a driver’s seat with no control. Mr. Right was visibly disappointed. He had a vision of an joyful arrival and fun beginning to our adventure. The fact that I was uneager to start the first leg of our journey seemed selfish. Alas, I did not put on a happy face.

We arrived and the B&B and checked in; I literally went right to bed. Mr. Right continued to be dejected and took my exhausted state a bit personally. After all, the planning and effort, he was expecting a little more out of his fun loving girlfriend. I could not understand why my need to sleep was a personal affront to him. Maybe I was just being fussy and over sensitive. After some sleep, the first day of our trip would turn around. I would wake up refreshed and ready to take on tourism abroad. I would be a fun travel companion and turn this trip around. I would…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 

Have a great weekend…and welcome back to my blog! ~ MB

The Road to Mr. Right….Love

In late October, about three months after we started dating, cute Glasses and I spent the weekend together.  Before going back and reading old emails, I thought that the story I am about to tell you happened after our mini-vacation.  Turns out, it was actually two weeks before the Boston trip.  Ok back to the story, so, we spend the weekend together.  We went to dinner Friday, he slept over and we woke up together on Saturday morning.  Things between us were growing more comfortable.  I stopped obsessing about weird girl things like farting in my sleep.  We were a true couple.

We went shopping that Saturday and I helped Cute Glasses pick out some fall clothing.  Cute Glasses loved having my input.  It felt good to be appreciated and obviously, my fashion sense only improved his look! 

The plan for that evening was to take the train into the city and see a comedy show.  After the show, we planned to meet some of my friends at bar and take in a Phillies World Series game.  We took the train to avoid parking and free ourselves up to enjoy some alcoholic beverages. The D. L. Hughley show started late, the first show ran over and bumped the second show back.  We had to wait in line for an hour.  I flashed back to relationships past.  I imagined Rocker Boy having one of his toddler-like episodes.  If I were in this situation with him, he would have been incessantly complaining about the cost of the tickets and the untimely start of the show.  Rocker Boy would have let the situation ruin the whole night.  I became nervous that under duress, Cute Glasses might display some of the same behaviors. 

Cute Glasses did voice his annoyance at the late start but it was a fleeting comment.  When I suggested we get drinks from the bar while waiting in line he immediately agreed and went off to make the purchase.  There was no comment about the inflated cost at the bar or annoying people in the crowd.  He was able to focus on me and make the best of an irritating scenario. Thankful that Cute Glasses could go with the flow, I relaxed and enjoyed the wait, after all it was more time spent with the person I loved. Wait…did I just say loved???

That is when it hit me.  I loved him.  Yes, it had only been three months and yes, we were still getting to know each other but based on all the encounters we had up to that moment, I knew.  Comparisons to ghosts of boyfriends past only confirmed what my heart was telling my mind; this was Mr. Right.  Of course, Cute Glasses had not mentioned love yet and I did not want to be the first to utter the words.  I took deep breaths and calmed the butterflies in my stomach.  We were finally seated in the audience and I specifically recall Cute Glasses asking me if I was feeling ok.  Stunted by my recent inner revelation, the initial surprise must have shown on my face.  The show began and I was able to evade the question.  It was hilarious and worth the wait; afterwards we headed to meet my friends.

The friends we met up with that night were two of my oldest and dearest.  I have known them since the age of fourteen and I would say they know me better then most.  Cute Glasses was a bit intimidated since both friends were male.  I assume that there is a certain added pressure for a man if two other men are judging him.  Despite his anxiety, Cute Glasses was well received by my circle.  For the first time in a long time, my male friends approved of my choice in significant other.  It made my crazy love feeling get stronger.  As the booze continued to flow, I could feel the words bubbling up to my lips (or maybe that was just the beer burps). 

At 1:00am, Cute Glasses and I headed back to the train station to make our way home.  The Phillies had won the game that night so drunk and joyful Philadelphians were aflutter.  We arrived at the platform about ten minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive.  We sat on a bench waiting and Cute Glasses asked me if I enjoyed the night.  I told him what a great time I had and how happy it made me to spend time with him.  Cute Glasses admitted how nervous he was about meeting my friends.  He was worried they would not like him and said that he put a lot of pressure on himself to make a good impression. 

“They loved you,” I said.

“You really think so?  I hope so,” said Cute Glasses.  He looked sad and went on to tell me he was worried it did not go well.

“They loved you, I love you,” I whispered.

There it was; it bubbled up again and escaped!  It was out there…the “L Bomb”, as Friend Blue would say.  My stomach was in knots.  Cute Glasses’ face went soft and he smiled. 

“I am so in love with you. I have been trying to tell you all week,” said Cute Glasses.  He explained that he could not find the right time and thought that maybe it was too soon to share.  The ride home  was filled with hugs and kisses and the sappy crap of romantic comedies.  It was the first time I ever told a man I loved him before he told me.  Maybe because that time I meant it sincerely.  Cute Glasses was my Mr. Right. 

Internet Dating…pedal to the metal

As you know, Cute Glasses and I met on the internet, Match.com to be exact.  Within the first four months of dating, we had surpassed many relationship milestones.  I met his parents and he had spent time with mine.  Our first mini vacation was a success and we agreed that we would book a ten-day trip to Ireland, which would mark about eight months of being together.  By many people’s standards, things were moving quickly.  Friend and family seemed surprised that we were committed after only five dates.  Cute Glasses brother expressed concerns that our relationship was progressing too fast.  He was worried that Cute Glasses was falling too hard too fast.

Despite our friends and family concerns, Cute Glasses and I felt that we were perfect for each other.  We were consumed with our compatibility and rationalized that at “our age” we had enough experience in the dating world to know the right thing when it came along.  Moreover, as I mentioned in the last post, the whole concept of meeting on the internet put things on the fast track.  If you think about it, Cute Glasses and I spent over two weeks communicating via email.  When you start emailing with an online prospect, the email stage becomes a vetting period.  Obviously, you have to ask some personal questions to determine if meeting in person would be worthwhile.  It is a unique situation because unlike meeting at a bar, it is common to talk about your feelings on marriage or children.  When both people are online, looking for a relationship it is normal to discuss your potential longevity as a couple up front. 

Cute Glasses and I also spoke on the phone prior to our first date; the conversation lasted over an hour.  It was around the time of the last Presidential election so we talked politics and religion; both of which are controversial subjects.  Going into the first date, we already knew quite a about each other and the mutual interest was already established.  That is not so on a blind date or when you randomly meet someone in a social situation.  Therefore, I would certainly say that Internet dating does put relationships on the fast track because both parties have a boyfriend or girlfriend as the end goal.

Meeting the right person is difficult.  If you are lucky enough to have met the right person at work, or in your social circle then count your blessings.  These days, it is rare to stumble upon the right romantic situation.  If you are like me and you want to take control of your dating future, do not be afraid to give the online thing a try.  Match.com is no longer a tool for dorky techies and fans of World of Warcraft…it is for everyday people with busy lives!   Looking for a mate is exhausting and we are not getting any younger.  Put the pedal to the metal and wiz your way into the personal circle.  Time in the “intimate circle” is a-wasting. Wink wink.