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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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!

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…

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.