The Tiny Dancer Affairs…Introduction

Awhile back, I decided that I needed a hobby. I always enjoyed dance as a girl so it seemed like the obvious choice of extra curricular activities. It was at dance school that I met Lisa, clearly the school’s best-trained dancer. She had a natural aptitude for learning the movements coupled with the unmistakable grace of a professional dancer. The class instructor consistently praised Lisa, it was clear that her talent made her a focal point at the studio. All the students noticed her skills and gravitated toward Lisa for extra help during and after class.

I was the only other student about the same age as Lisa so she enjoyed helping me and spending time chatting after class. The whole point of the hobby was for me to meet new people, so I was thankful to have a budding friendship on my hands. About two month after we met, I invited Lisa on a long weekend with myself and some other girlfriends. She was excited to be included and I was thrilled to have a new friend.

On the trip, we began to know each other better. I told the tales of Pizza Bagel and Rocker Boy and explained why I started taking dance class. She shared similar stories regarding ghosts of boyfriend’s past and her take on our dance class. I noticed that when she spoke she talked a lot about our dance instructor, Etienne, the owner of our school. Not only did she ask me what I thought about him but she also displayed knowledge of intimate details of his life. I had not realized that they were friendly outside of class so when Lisa admitted that she was dating Etienne I was surprised. Over the last two months, I never noticed anything between them nor heard her mention a boyfriend.

As my relationship with Lisa progressed so did my knowledge of her relationship with Etienne. Etienne was about ten years Lisa’s senior and he was recently divorced. His former wife was also a dancer and had opened the studio with him years ago. When Lisa started at the school, she took classes from both Etienne and his wife. She admired Etienne as an artist and as a man. She always felt connected to Etienne, so when the dissolution of his marriage was made public, Lisa felt the need to pursue Etienne romantically. One night after class, a group of student asked Etienne out for a glass of wine. He accepted and spent the night flirting with his prized pupil. Lisa said that the glances and subtle touches of the evening were foreshadowing of the events to come.  Stay tuned…

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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

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.

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.

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…

Vodka is not a Band-Aid for a Broken Heart

Summer has officially ended.  I was at the beach this weekend visiting my parents.  Mr. Right is away on business so I ended up going out on the town with an old friend.  September is a good month for hitting up the bars at the beach because the wild crowd has migrated west for the fall, leaving an older calmer crowd behind.  While the scene was significantly subdued, there was debauchery abound. 

Toward the end of the evening, we stopped at a takeout window.  Since the establishment served snacks after 2am there was a large crowd forming on the sidewalk.  A group of men from a bachelor party were laughing and carrying on with a drunken woman seeking some attention.  She wore a leopard newsboy cap and her once cute outfit was disheveled showing a little more belly then the world needed to see.  The bachelors and the onlookers chuckled at the girl as she made her sloppy advances.  She shook her hips and flirted making a serious attempt to meet a man.  Alcohol fueled an erroneous sense of sexiness.  It started to make me sad, she was a cute girl clearly sloshed and uncoordinated; she seemed desperate and pathetic. 

I paused from hating for a second and thought, “Have I ever behaved that way?”.  Sadly, I think that one time or another everyone has.  A few too many drinks coupled with a bought of low self-esteem can bring out the worst.  I flashed back to summers past.  Specifically, I thought about the summer I ended things with Rocker Boy.  Still, in my twenties I was ready to party hard and erase the time I had wasted in that relationship.  I had a pattern of trying to “make up” for the fun I missed when I was committed.  It was my coping mechanism for a broken heart; the rebounding process was a drunken reentry into singlehood. 

One night in particular, I was out with friends at a crowded beach bar.  I was tying one on, as they say, in a sea of Abercrombie and Fitch clad twenty somethings.  The cover band was raging and the Red Bull and vodka was plentiful.  My beer goggles secure I was on the hunt, ready to prove to myself that meeting someone to fill Rocker Boy’s tattered shoes would be an easy task.  I spotted a familiar face in the crowd, an old buddy who admitted he had a crush on me the following summer when I was involved.  Jackpot, this would be the ego boost I needed to put Rocker Boy in the past.  I made my way over to Old Buddy to say hi.  He had changed since the summer prior.  Old Buddy had a new job, was looking good and I felt that he was someone I was interested in dating.  However, I was not ready to give up the summer of fun and get serious.

In retrospect, at the time, I was probably in the same shape as the drunken girl in the leopard hat this weekend.  I might have looked and sounded like an equally hot mess.  It is an embarrassing and humbling thought.  Old Buddy was nice enough to humor me and even continued our flirtatious banter as my summer of fun progressed.  I started to look forward to seeing him and continuously hoped that something would happen between us.  Toward the end of the summer, I caught him outside the bar.  I asked him if we would see each other after the summer; maybe go out on a date.  Alas, the tables had turned and Old Buddy was not crushing on me anymore.  The dancing drunk girl was not exactly someone he would take home to Mom.  She had no lasting allure.

It was a disappointing situation because in my heart I was so much more then a crazy party girl enjoying summer as a single woman.  I had a career, friends and interests far beyond Red Bull and vodka.  Nevertheless, like the leopard hat, when wasted you cannot your best foot forward.  Countless nights spent partying at the bar will not boost yourself esteem and/or help you meet someone new.   Vodka is not a Band-Aid for a broken heart and one good party is not going to erase your tangled emotions.  In fact, you will just end up looking silly and feeling worse.  I blew it with Old Buddy and realized that I should have taken more time to get over my last relationship.  Being single and having fun at the bar can be a positive thing, but not if you have an agenda to make up for what you perceive as lost time.  Mourn your relationship, appreciate yourself, go forth, enjoy life, and for god sakes, do not wear a leopard hat!