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

When the Honeymoon is Over…

I am sure that you have heard the honeymoon phase. The term refers to a stage in any relationship where the initial excitement and newness of the experience is overwhelming. Once the honeymoon phase is over, the mystery and intrigue allegedly wears off. I tried to Google “honeymoon phase” to gauge its average life expectancy but apparently, the time period is not subject to the scientific method. The length of the butterflies and willful blindness is unknown. Many times when “the honeymoon is over” a relationship will start to break down. The end of such a phase can be an indication of love vs. lust; with love going the distance and lust ending a relationship.

First, I give you our old friend Pizza Bagel…As I mentioned before we met in college. PB was the first upperclassman that had put effort forth to actually get to know me. The fact that he was older, attractive and interesting had me intrigued. We met in August or September of my freshman year and continued an on again off again relationship through the following summer. If you recall, he did not have his “epiphany” until the following summer (see “Commandments of Dating…when he didn’t follow the rules” if you need more information). In this scenario, the honeymoon phase was elongated by the thrill of the chase.

This is a popular expansion method of the honeymoon phase. The thrill of the chase adds an extra element of excitement. In the on again off again mode there is constant suspense due to the unknown outcome. I will get specific, two days went by and I had not heard from PB. I decide to hit up a popular bar. On the way inside, I spot it, PB’s car in the parking lot. My heart starts to thump…will I see him inside? Will he see me? Will he eat his heart out when he sees how good I look in my skinny jeans? The whole night just got more interesting. As I cruise into the bar and find friends, I scan the crowd for PB, careful not to be too obvious. After all, I want him to “notice me” first.

Have you even had that happen to you? You are having a conversation with a friend maybe sipping a beer, but the thing is…you are not present. You are 100% distracted. The person in the crowd you are waiting to approach consumes both your mind and your peripheral vision. It is all about that moment in the future when and if he talks to you.
In my case, the climatic moment came when PB would walk over and greet me. We would hug and he would explain that homework and whatever else had been keeping him busy. The night would be spent canoodling until it was time to go home. I would tell my friends, “I will catch a ride with PB.” This sort of cycle of non-commitment can prolong a period of excitement and lust. This type of back and forth can even create yearning that disguises itself as love

I would like to say that once college was over I realized that the elongated nature of the “chase” period was unhealthy. All the back and forth was just stalling the need for a real commitment. The cycle was never broken because soon after gradation I move to a big city in the hopes of perusing my relationship with PB. The element of a new city and a real job perpetuated the false sense of newness in our relationship and kept us under the guise that we were in love. After a couple years together in the new city, a routine eventually set in. We clearly enjoyed each other a great deal and it was amazing that our lifestyle had kept the honeymoon phase alive so long. But, once the routine set in and the allure fell out we both realized that we were not in love. We did not have the type of passion that lasts a lifetime.

The joint realization was a long time coming. Unfortunately, our honeymoon phase was fueled by our immature lifestyles and the fact that as a couple we did not truly “settle down” until years after our first meeting. Feelings that seem like love are distorted by other factors, like sex, mystery, accomplishment, attraction, or even jealousy. The notion that the “honeymoon is over” is usually viewed as a negative end to something fun. However, I think it is a powerful stage in a relationship where one can truly see the difference between love and lust. If the butterflies and rainbows wear off, and you are left with someone you adore…then you might just be basking in the glow of love.

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!

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.

The Road to Mr. Right…Relationship Milestones

After Cute Glasses and I made things official, our relationship progressed at a steady pace.  We usually had plans both weekend night and a couple of times throughout the week.  Each conversation we had made me realized how much we had in common.  We were raised with similar values and sought similar paths in life.  We agreed on money matters, moral issues and even politics.  We had the makings of a long lasting relationship.  Our basic compatibility was different then I experienced in my past relationships. 

I met Cute Glasses parents on Halloween, three months after we met.  They turned out to be lovely people who were genuinely interested in meeting me.  I could tell that they were a lot like my own loving and supportive parents.  Our conversation that night reinforced that Cute Glasses and I were raised with similar ideals and comparable opportunities.  It was a judgment free zone; they obviously trusted their son’s judgment in women.  This was a relief since I had negative experiences with my boyfriend’s family in the past. 

With the “meet the parents” milestone out of the way, Cute Glasses suggested that we go on our first vacation.  We had discussed booking a ten-day trip to Ireland that February but I figured that we should first take a mini vacation first to see how well we traveled together.  We chose to visit my favorite Aunt and Uncle in Boston.  The plan was to stay with family and attend a Patriot’s game over the course of a long weekend.  My hope was that Aunt and Uncle would approve of Cute Glasses; they have known me my whole life and I credit them as good judge of character. 

Well, the first night with Aunt and Uncle was a fabulous time.  We ordered take out while Uncle and Cute Glasses sampled fine scotch.  Once the libations were flowing, Aunt brought out a new board game.  The game was much like charades: you could use different methods to get the other players to guess the word/phrase on your card.  Cute Glasses’ miming skills were so amusing that we bagged the directions and just called out guesses while he hopped around the living room like a rabbit or danced like a ballerina.   He was open and loose with my family almost as if he had known them a long time.  It felt natural and genuine.  Aunt and Uncle were for the first time, impressed by my significant other. 

You see, things with PB and Rocker Boy were not the same.  Rocker Boy was not confident enough to interact with my family on such a level.  I believe that Rocker Boy was so intimidated by anyone outside his comfort zone that he clammed up in unfamiliar situations.  It would have been like pulling teeth to get him to agree to play a game with people he just met, let alone actively participate.   PB on the other hand would have been sure enough of his intelligence to participate, but it would not be his idea of fun.  It would have been more of a labor of love in his eyes, whereas Cute Glasses was in his element.  We were not making sacrifices or compromising for one another…we actually found the same activity enjoying.

Do not get me wrong, Cute Glasses and I do not watch all the same TV shows or read the same types of books.  In fact, that weekend, we sat in bed together enjoying books of vastly different genres.  We have different interests and hobbies but our idea of a good time is parallel.  I think that this is an important distinction in relationship.  No two people are going to agree on everything, but at the root of the bond, your interests should compliment one another.  Compromise is a part of every relationship, but if you find yourself constantly making concessions for your partner, that should raise a red flag.  Spending time together should be easy, not a chore.  If you find that type connection with someone, hang on tight.  However, if you find yourself constantly outside your element in a relationship, you might be with the wrong person.

When Cute Glasses and I arrived home from Boston, we booked the trip to Ireland.  A short weekend trip together was evidence that we would be compatible travel partners.  Cute Glasses even suggested we go over Valentines Day.  It was potentially the trip of a lifetime.  Time would tell…

Commandments of Dating…when he didn’t follow the rules

Today over email, Friend Green mentioned that she was reading the “Commandments of Dating”. She forwarded me a snippet of the article and the content rang true. As my day went on, I started to think of my own relationship commandments and think back to a time when they were broken. My first thought was being faithful to your partner, the most obvious. I, myself, have never caught a partner cheating. It is not to say that I have never had a partner stray, but I never caught anyone in the act of indiscretion. The closest I came was with Pizza Bagel.

When we parted ways during summer break, the first year we were dating Pizza Bagel suggested that it would be impossible for two 19-year-olds to remain faithful for three months. We would be about four hours away from each other and at our age, a long distance relationship seemed far-fetched. I understood Pizza Bagel’s train of thought on the matter: though we had been seeing each other throughout the school year we had yet to call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. In my heart, I wished he suggested that we remain exclusive but I did not push the issue. We spent most of our time together or in the same group of friends so it was evident at school that we were not dating other people. I hoped that he would not meet anyone special during out time apart. It was bitter sweet but common sense dictated that I could not force a hormonal teenager to stay away from girls for an entire summer.

I left school one day before Pizza Bagel. It was the old days so I did not have a cell phone; I wrote my contact information on an index card. The first time I wrote it, I decorated it with magic marker hearts. That seemed creepy so I ripped it apart and just went with old fashion pen and paper. PB said he would call in a couple weeks and check in on my summer fun. Two weeks felt like a long time to go without talking but again, I did not protest. I tried not to let my disappointment show but I could not hide my tears as we said goodbye.

I arrived at the beach the same day and unpacked my things. Work started the next day because I had a standing job at a boardwalk gift store. After my second day of work, I came home to a message from PB. My Mom said that he called in the afternoon. It seemed strange because we only said goodbye two days prior and he said he wouldn’t be calling right away. I was excited! When he answered the phone, he said that he needed to talk…bad news was on the way. Turns out that the night I left college PB made his way to a fraternity party. Since only a few people were still on campus, a random group of people converged on the festivities. With me gone to the beach and his singlehood was back in tact, PB participated in a heated make-out session with one of my sorority sisters (I am rolling my eyes and vomiting in my mouth right now).

It was devastating, I had really grown to love and admire PB and I was crushed that it took less then 24 hours for him to find another girl. He took his first chance at freedom. PB went on to say that while he understood what he did was wrong the kiss was not the point on his phone call. He was calling because the next morning he woke up and realized that he made an awful mistake. He felt guilty and horrible and wanted me to know the truth. The drunken dry hump session had brought on an epiphany…he was in love with me. PB asked to come to the beach that weekend and explain in more detail. He wanted to meet my parents and become a bigger part of my life. The summer break was not going to be our break from each other after all.

Alas, I was immature, and this seemed like a romantic conclusion to our disappointing goodbye at school. Do not get me wrong, I did not welcome PB back into my life on the spot. The hurt and betrayal took a toll and I spent the rest of the week in utter turmoil. I was physically ill at the thought of what happened and seriously thought about the fate of the relationship. However, when I was ready to forgive, his commitment to our relationship seemed like a victory. I was the girl that he wanted and he was the boyfriend I chose. Pushing the kiss out of my mind, I let PB back into my heart (I had not ever let him out).

These days I am more discerning and decidedly more jaded. Had Cute Glasses experienced a similar epiphany after an indiscretion, the outcome would have been different. When you are young, you can forgive and forget with less consequence. In college, I had no real investment in PB and nothing but my feelings riding on the future of our relationship. Cute Glasses is a man and, at the time, PB was a teenager. Your teenage slip-ups do not define who you are as an adult; rather, they teach you what kind of person you want to be. I would assume that PB learned the risks of cheating, and that today he would think twice before putting himself in that situation. College is a time to test the so called, “Commandments” and learn the potential outcomes of your actions. Adulthood is the time to abide by your own set of boundaries and moral code.

Now, I know what you are probably thinking…MB is not a perfect person…I know she has broken some dating rules in her life. It is true. It was PB’s lesson in love today but it will be mine tomorrow. Have a good rest of your day ~ MB