Meeting New People…too personal?

Yesterday was Sunday and I attended Church with a family member.  Raised Catholic, this non-denominational Christian Church is not at all the religious pomp and circumstance I am used to experiencing.  The service was less traditional than Catholic Mass.  A band plays contemporary Christian rock followed by a pastor in plain clothes who walks on stage talks about life issues.  The topic of yesterday’s sermon was “A Place for everyone.”  The pastor spoke about level of contact that people have with one another.  As an example he used the theory of  Proxemics introduced by anthropologist Edward T. Hall in the late 1960s.  Basically, the theory explores the different levels of human interactions: public, social, personal and intimate.  He was using the study to encourage people to explore their relationship with God, but of course, I was thinking how it could relate to relationships and dating.

The chart below demonstrates the levels of relationships.  The outer circle is public. This might describe your relationship with Oprah if you ever went to a taping of her show.   As an audience member, she was communicating with you but on a generic topical level.  The second layer is social.  For example, you are at a bar and meet someone new.  Social would be a relaxed or friendly situation with people you do not know personally but in a situation where you could strike up a conversation.  This is probably the level at which most people are introduced or meet a potential dating prospect.   In the social setting, people exchange generic questions like, “Where do you work?” or “What do you like to do for fun?”

The personal circle would represent you relationship with friends and family.  These people are familiar with more then just the basics about your life.  Someone in your personal circle has likely known you for an extended period of time and retains specific information about your life.  Conversations are likely more detailed and honest in this circle whereas in the social circle they might be guarded or censored.  The intimate circle is deeper than the personal circle.  The intimate circle can refer to intimacy of a sexual nature, but more so the depth and detail of the information that you share with a person and the support that would come from that deep relationship.  For example, parents, siblings and children can be represented in the center circle, as parents and siblings often have a unique bond with their family members. It is suggested that you can only really be intimate with about three people at one time because of the effort and feeling that goes into the level of relationship.

I found this theory very interesting and there are many ways that is applies to dating and meeting new people.  Many couples meet in the social atmosphere: a bar, a sporting event or party.  However, during that those initial meetings there is a certain urgency to get past the social and into the personal to find out if there is truly compatibility.  For example, in the social circle you can determine someone’s job, living situation and other statics about him or her.  On that superficial level, many people have criteria that you might be looking for in a mate.  I could meet five men that fit my standards, but without getting personal, how do I know which has boyfriend potential?  What you really need to know are the personal details: do they want children, what is their relationship like with their family, is marriage in their future.  Not the type of conversation you have with a stranger at a bar.

Internet dating sites give us the option of bypassing the social and moving right to the personal.  Without even meeting, you can view a person’s profile and determine if they believe in the institution of marriage, love pizza and hope to have three children in the next five years.    Most sites prompt you to address personal questions so interested parties can weed out their compatibility standards before making initial contact.  It is almost like boyfriend or girlfriend resumes at your fingertips.  For around thirty dollars a month, you can do away with the public and social scenarios and move right to the personal details.  Therefore, I ask you.  Is technology is peeling away the once measurable distances between people? 

 To be continued…

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The Road to Mr. Right…Cute Glasses makes it Official

An entire week without posts…shame on me!  Life’s responsibilities and commitments have been sucking up all my time.  Anyway, I will continue with the story of Cute Glasses…

As I explained previously, Cute Glasses was working away from home and dates were planned around his travel schedule.  Due to his travel and my activities, we had to work to find time to hang out.  For a third date he suggested that he cook dinner for me at his place.  Now, if you refer back to my post about Random Set Up Guy you will see that a man asking you to come to his place can be a sign of potential creepiness.  In that situation, it seemed that Random Set Up Guy was just trying to lure me to his house to have his way with me, so to speak.  Cute Glasses invitation was much different.  He offered to make dinner and then take me mini-golfing.  His house was less then a half of a mile from the golf course.  The fact that Cute Glasses had a plan and only the dinner portion of the date would take place at his home was another gold star on his dating report card.  I was starting to like this guy more and more.

I brought two bottles of wine with me to Cute Glasses place, one for dinner and one for him to keep.  He bought all the food for the dinner and he paid for the two previous dates so I felt inclined to show my appreciation. Cute Glasses said that he would keep the second bottle handy for the net time he made diner for me.  It was then that I really started to think that Cute Glasses would make a good boyfriend.  He was very considerate and referenced spending time together in the future.  He showed his interest in continuing things with me without coming on to strong.  It was a good balance. 

I recalling going to dinner and a movie for our next date but the fifth date is a blur.  What I do remember about the fifth date is that towards the end of the night, Cute Glasses sat me down for a talk. 

He said, “We have been on about five or six dates at this point and I am really enjoying spending time with you.  I am not seeing anyone else and I do not have plans to start seeing anyone else.  I wanted to see how you felt about that and if you would be willing to make the same commitment?”

I was not dating anyone else at the time and I agreed to make our relationship exclusive.  That night, Cute Glasses and I became boyfriend and girlfriend.  It was a memorable night for me because I was confident that my relationship with Cute Glasses had a lot of potential.  Because I had spent time working on myself and examining what I want in a partner, this would be different from relationships past.  I would still focus on my friends and activities just the same as I had before, but I would also set time aside to be with my new boyfriend.

How I met Mr. Right cont…Cute Glasses Date II

Days went by and I did not hear from Cute Glasses.  My opinion was that the date went well, so I was surprised he did not call.  As I mentioned in my last post, I had an active schedule.  I was not sitting by the phone waiting for Cute Glasses but I wondered what was preventing him from asking me on date number two.  We had a good time and the chemistry seemed to be there.  Perhaps the awkwardness at the gas station had something to do with the lack of follow up?  My dating research clearly stated that if Cute Glasses were interested he would call.  Maybe he was not that into me.

I consulted Friend Green and Friend Blue.  I had already shared with them the details of the evening and the fact that I had enjoyed the night.  They were leaning towards the “he’s not that into you verdict.”  Nevertheless, something in the pit of my stomach told me that was not the case.  Friend Blue said if I felt that strongly I could send him one simple text.  The only subtext of that text could be, “Thank you for dinner.  I had a very nice time.”  Nothing more could be said.  Friend Green agreed with the idea and thought that the text would let Cute Glasses know I was interested without sounding desperate or crazy.  I liked the idea because at least I would find out if Cute Glasses was interested, one way or the other.

The text went out about three in the afternoon.  As promised, I kept the text simple and only wrote what Friend Blue suggested.  Low and behold, about five minutes later I received a reply from Cute Glasses.  He was relieved I had a good time and asked if I was free during the week for a drink.  We scheduled a date for the following Tuesday.  Friend Green and Friend Blue figured the text was the confidence booster Cute Glasses needed to request a second date.  It was certainly an interesting outcome.

Cute Glasses and I met at a local restaurant for our second date.  He requested a table away from the bar area so we could sit and talk.  The conversation was flowing and Cute Glasses seemed less nervous then during out first encounter.  I forget if I mentioned, but Cute Glasses and I lived in neighboring areas and Cute Glasses programmed software for a living.  He explained that in his line of work, he acts as a consultant to larger corporations.  That month, he was contracted out to a company in another state (about a two-hour drive from our area).  I asked Cute Glasses how often he had to be on site.  His answer was, “Everyday.”  So, wait a second…did Cute Glasses drive two hours to have a drink with me?  Yes, my friends…he commuted two hours for our second date.  I was impressed but also curious at time.  If Cute Glasses drove two hours to see me, why did he wait until I texted him to ask for a second date?

Playfully, I asked Cute Glasses if he had intended to contact me prior to my “thank you” text.  He told me honestly, he was not going to call.  Cute Glasses thought he ruined the first date by taking me eat to ice cream at the gas station.  He wrongfully assumed that a “woman like me” would find such an establishment lame and therefore deem him an unsuitable prospect.  I pointed out that, during the date, I tried to assure him that was not the case.  Cute Glasses acknowledged that I was cool about the choice of after date establishments.  However, he noted that afterwards, when he dropped me by my car, I immediately went for the door handle while saying my goodbyes.  He took that as a sign I was trying to escape the date.  He reminded me that he had to ask for a hug…I did not offer one.  He felt my body language and quick departure were signs I was not interested.

In hindsight, I still would not offer a hug but if given another chance, I would have paused and said a more genuine “thank you” and goodbye.  The end of a first date is always a bit awkward and I have a tendency of rushing uncomfortable moments.  As date two ended, I let Cute Glasses walk me to my car.  I gave him a hug and we kissed.  It was totally PG, just a quick peck on the lips.  Come on…the guy did drive two hours after all.

The lessoned learned is that first impressions are everything.  If your mind is saying one thing but your body language and actions are contradictory, you could be sending your date the wrong signals.  First dates are admittedly awkward but do not be afraid to let your date know that you enjoyed your time together.  Rushing the goodbye can be misunderstood.  That being said, keep it classy.  The first date is too soon for any intimacy.  A friendly hug might be in order but spending the night is not.  A genuine end to a date should be enough encouragement to prompt a second date.  That is, of course, if he is into you.  Good luck out there…~MB

How I Met Mr. Right Part III….my second internet date

The date with Fedora Guy was scheduled for the Saturday afternoon following the date with Cute Glasses.  As I previously mentioned, Fedora Guy had an intriguing match.com profile and it really seemed like he liked to have a good time.  Our email conversations were quality and I felt that he was smart and came from a good family.  I imagined him as a suave international type, very tall dark and handsome. 

Fedora Guy’s estimated time of arrival came and went.  Strike one that he was running late to a first date.  My cell phone rang and it was Fedora Guy explaining he was lost.  I guided him to my apartment parking lot over the phone.  I cringed as I watched him pull up in a white hatch back mom car.  It was not at all suave or international.  I walked toward the front door to greet my date.  His head was not visible as I peeped out the peek hole of the front door.  This was not possible!  The profile specifically told me that he was over 6 foot tall.  Remember, that was one of my superficial needs. 

The nightmare was revealed when I opened the door: not only was Fedora Guy short but he wore man sandals (mandals) and a man purse (murse).  The mandals were Jesus style and unbuckled…I wondered how they stayed on his feet.  The murse was army inspired and bluging, what in gods name did he have in there?  As if these crimes against fashion were not heinous enough, he dared to “pop” his collar.  It was too late to run and hide, I had already answered the door.  I told myself, to suck it up and go on the date.  I was a big girl and I owed it to this person to give him a chance. 

Turns out that Fedora Guy planned on taking me to an Arboretum.  Having never been before I was interesting in walking around and checking out the scenery.  Perhaps the afternoon would turn out to be fun. Upon arrival, he paid our entrance fee.  I offered to chip in but he refused my contribution.  While approaching the gardens, Fedora Guy pulled a giant camera out of the murse.  He explained that photography was his hobby and he indented to shoot pictures during our date.  Fedora Guy said that he would email me then pictures so I could remember our time together.  I turned my head a rolled my eyes (the blog is called diary of a hater after all). 

Fedora Guy talked about himself and barely asked any questions about me.  This solidified the fact that we really didn’t have anything in common.  I would try to disagree with him or sound disinterested to avoid the prospect of a second date.  The chemistry just was not there and I felt that I had humored Fedora Guy enough after an hour or so walking around the Arboretum.  I told him my allergies were bothering me and that I would like to go home.  Fedora Guy protested.  He wanted to shoot some photos of me smelling the flowers.  Had we been less then ten miles from my home I might have run.  At this point, the date turned ugly.

At the risk of being a horrible bitch, I told Fedora Guy that under no circumstances was I comfortable with him taking my photograph.  We only met that day and I felt it too soon for Fedora Guy to have my image in his personal archives.  With the advancements of Photoshop he could have used my picture for anything and I could not allow it.  I imagine my photo on his Facebook with the caption, “my new girlfriend.”  No no no!

Fedora Guy changed the subject.  A couple minutes later, he saw a sculpture in the distance.  I suggested we go and take a closer look as the statues were halfway between our path and the parking lot.  Next step…freedom!   As I approached the sculpture, I heard it, “click, click, click.”  It was the camera.  I whirled around and pointed a finger at Fedora Guy.  I told him I specifically asked him not to take my picture.  I demanded that he delete the images and he take me home.  No more Miss Nice Guy; I had it. 

Before his car came to a complete stop at my apartment, I jumped out.  I do not even recall if I said “thank you” or “goodbye”.  Stick a fork in Fedora Guy because he was done.  It was a total disappointment.  Our email chat was great and we seemed to have “in person” potential.  Alas, it did not work out.  I hoped Cute Glasses would call for another date.

How I Met Mr. Right Part II….my first internet date

I had trouble picking out the right outfit for Cute Glasses.  It was the beginning of August so I went wore a fitted brown tank top and flared jeans.  I parked near the establishment and went in what I thought was the front door.  I did not see Cute Glasses in the bar area so I walked through the bar to the restaurant section.  There was another entrance there and I saw a tall dark haired man standing in the doorway.  Cute Glasses noted that he was six foot on his profile and this man seemed much taller.   When he turned around, I recognized his face from his profile picture.  Cute Glasses had opted for contacts that night and sans glasses, his face was even cuter.  He had broad shoulders and a chiseled handsomeness; I imagined him naked.  I know…terrible.

I waved and he approached with a friendly smile.  I congratulated myself for joining match.com and being such an excellent date selector!   We were seated and the waitress took our drink orders.  I opted for a Grey Goose Dirty martini and watch his eyes widen…he asked for a glass of what I believe was bourbon on the rocks.  The “Millionaire Match Maker” says that you should never have more than two alcoholic drinks on a first date.  So, I figure if I can only have two I might as well make them as powerful as possible.

The conversation was typical first date banter.  We talked mostly about our jobs and friends.  We compared college stories.  I left out the bit about Pizza Bagel and the stabbing…seemed too much too soon (hah).   He seemed nervous but I still found him attractive.  I decided almost immediately that I would agree to a second date if Cute Glasses was interested.  He did an impersonation of Christopher Waken…it was weird.  I laughed to be polite and I figured it really wasn’t a deal breaker.  The server asked us if we would like dessert; Cute Glasses suggested that we go somewhere else.  I agreed and Cute Glasses picked up the check.  I offered him money and he politely declined.  Good man.

Out in front of the restaurant, Cute Glasses told me that he wanted to go the ice cream stand up the road.  I was disappointed because I knew that ice cream hut did not have a liquor license!  Damn.  Cute Glasses wanted me to follow him in my car to the next destination.  The place was right up the road and we were currently parallel parked on the street, I did not want to move my car just to have to parallel park all over again.  Cute Glasses read my female look of unhappiness and offered to drive us both.  I agreed deducing that Cute Glasses was not a mass murderer. 

We pulled up to the ice cream joint that was connected to a gas station.  The cars could park in the gas station, which was closed at night, in order to patron the ice cream stand.  We got our desserts and Cute Glasses realized that there was no vacant outside seating.  He grew uncomfortable and suggested that we lean on his car.  He seemed embarrassed at his choice of after dinner haunts and repeatedly apologized for bringing me to the gas station.  I tried to make a joke of it and even reached out to touch his arm.  I meant it to be a “there, there” calming gesture but Cute Glasses jumped about one hundred feet.  I started to think that I misjudged Cute Glasses and maybe he was a bit of a head case.  

Cute Glasses gave me a ride back to my car.  I was put off by his reaction to my arm touch so I said goodbye and reached for the door handle.  He asked for a hug which obviously came as a surprise.  I gave him a sideways glance and a half hearted hug and exited the vehicle.  I went back to my apartment generally confused.  I was attracted to Cute Glasses but he came off a little quirky…quite possibly afraid of me.  He would call me if he was interested in date number two.  Depending how things went with Fedora the next day, maybe Cute Glasses would be a distant memory.  The future had yet to be determined.

How I met Mr. Right…Part I

After a summer filled with bar hopping and an endless string of parties, I decided to take dating into my own hands.  As I mentioned in my prior post, the bar scene failed to produce any dating prospects with longevity.  I was spending the night in with a good friend sipping wine and discussing how to take control of our dating destiny.  We decided to whip out the credit cards and join Match.com.  All those late night bar photo shoots now came in handy as we created our profiles.

I kept my profile simple, about 6 recent pictures and a short but honest “about me” blurb.  They asked for your philosophy on love and I quoted Ben Stein’s “Lessons on Love”.  He uses ROI (return on interest) to explain a healthy relationship. The returns on your investment should at least equal the cost of the investment. If you are getting less back than you put in over a considerable period of time, back off.” (http://www.businesspundit.com/ben-steins-eight-lessons/)

Match.com also asks for a tag line, a sentence that will appear next to your picture for potential suitors scanning the pool of available women.  I  put the most obviously true statement I could think of, “I’m awesome.” I have a weird sense of humor, so if a guy could see the humor in such a tag line then he might be a good match for me.  My friend agreed that the profile was a fair reflection of my personality. After setting up my information, I looked at the males in my area.  If the pictures grabbed my attention I would open up their page but if they were not at least 6 feet tall I would click out and on to the next.  My friend was appalled.  How could I be so superficial?  Well, that is the beauty of the internet. Go for exactly what you like.  Initial chemistry is based on physical attraction so might as well cement that first.

One guy I came upon looked exotic and appeared in a fedora.  I winked at him.  Another with cute glasses and an adorable smile also caught my attention.  I winked at him too.  By then the wine and the chastising friend wore me down and I went to bed.  I was excited about the new adventure and wondered if anything would come of my three-month membership.

The next morning I woke up to twenty plus emails on my blackberry.  Now, I am an attractive woman but I had no idea that so many people would try to communicate with me.  A large majority of the emails said, “You’re pretty” or “Hey Sexy!”.  Delete.  Delete.   Delete.  I did not join the service to hook up.  I was looking for an actual relationship.  I did not respond to any one-liners.  The person had to write something that impressed me and demonstrated that he actually read my profile and something other then my photogenic smile appealed to him.  I had to have internet dating standards if I was going to find someone worth dating.

Fedora Guy and Cute Glasses both emailed me back with friendly banter.  They both read my profile and had intelligent and funny things to say.  They had stable jobs and were interested in meeting me in person.  I was at the beach that week but arraigned the dates for the following week.  Dinner with Cute Glasses on Friday Night and a day date with Fedora Guy the next morning.  Cute Glasses forwarded me a list of three restaurants and asked me to choose which one I liked best.  A nice approach because he had done the majority of the planning but left the choice of establishments up to me.  I also liked that he was planning on a dinner, which seemed more chivalrous then just drinks. Fedora Guy planned a mystery date, which would take place out doors.  Do not worry; I made sure it was a public place!  I looked forward to both dates, feeling that they had equal potential based on our online communications.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about the dates…you’re on your way to meeting my Mr. Right.  Can you guess which one he is?

Meeting Someone…not so easy

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/08/20/in-your-30s-and-still-single-its-your-fault/

Check out this article from Philadelphia Magazine written by contributor Monica Mandell, Ph.D.  She implies if you are and single and dating with no long-term prospects then perhaps, you need to reevaluate yourself.   Monica suggests that work habits or past experience might cause people inadvertently sabotage their relationships.  Monica has some valid points; self-exploration is a great tool when it comes to quality of relationships.  However, Monica does not touch on the main problem hindering single people I know.  They do not meet quality people.

Monica suggests throwing a party to meet new people.  Let’s get real…we are talking about 30-year-olds.  In many ways, their social circles are set and meeting new people is not as easy as it was in college.  I am not saying this cannot happen but the older we get the more people in our social circle are married.  As time ticks by, the pool of potential partners narrows.  If you have a steady job and set group of friends meeting new people is not as easy as hosting a get-together.

When I was single, I participated in different organized activities after work in the hopes of meeting new people.  I did not find anyone worth dating during said activities but I did meet new friends and expand my social circle.  This at least gave me new people to venture out with on the weekends to explore the bar scene.  The bar was not a good place to meet men.  The potential suitors were in their early twenties and I, being in my late twenties, was looking for someone my own age.  It is difficult to have quality conversation in that environment and at least in my experience, it was hard to weed the nice people out of the crowd.

I eventually found Mr. Right online.  I used match.com and had a successful experience.  (I plant to share the complete story of MB and Mr. Right in the future).  Mr. Right happened to be on of my first online dates so I did not have to suffer through any horrible dates to find him.  I do however have friends that did not experience the same outcome.  Internet dating can have it’s own complications when people embellish their profiles or look nothing like their profile pictures.

Alas, I know that meeting the right person is not a hopeless situation but I do believe that it is one of the most challenging.  In addition, the key is recognizing a good thing when you have it and holding onto it.  Next week’s blog will be dedicated to “how we met” stories.  If your married or in a relationship you’ll enjoy the stories purely from a content standpoint.  However, if you are single and looking I hope that you will find some inspiration and know that you too can find happiness.  I do believe that there is someone out there for everyone if a relationship is what you seek.

If you would like to share your “how we met story” I welcome contributions.  If you know me you might find your story here next week (do not worry I will give you a cute nickname too.)  Have a great weekend ~ MB