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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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.

Welcome to Dark Side…

True love is complicated. I am sure you do not need my little blog here to tell you that. If you have ever been in a serious relationship, you understand where I am coming from. Up to this point, I have discussed how things like money, family, and monogamy influence a relationship. Mr. Right and I have had disagreements that span those topics. However, the focus of our most popular argument would most definitely be communication. Come now; let me give you a simple example:

It was a Wednesday somewhere in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Over the weekend, Mr. Right and I had made plans to have dinner with my parents. It was a casual affair where we intended to tell my parents about Ireland and discuss our upcoming wedding. Oh, do not roll your eyes…you know that sounds like great fun! That afternoon I phoned Mr. Right to coordinate our midweek restaurant rendezvous. Mr. Right seemed pensive and flustered. Whatever could be the problem? I coaxed the problem out him. You see, on Monday evening Mr. Right’s brother invited him to a social gathering scheduled for low and behold…Wednesday evening. Mr. Right accepted. He had knowingly committed himself to both events and was only currently realizing the pickle, which he created.

Now, let me just say. The dinner with my parents was far from formal. Had someone been ill, dinner could have been canceled without causing any major life disturbance. Also, as I mentioned the plans hadn’t been made that far in advance. Mr. Right had ample time to suggest an alternate night or time. If Mr. Right rescheduled the dinner on Monday night, I could have chosen to go to dinner with my parents solo or made different plans all together. All I ask is to be informed and nothing gets MB going like a last minute game changer.

Enter my problem. I like things my way. In reality, my way is the right way…so it is only common sense, you agree, right? This is one key reason that Mr. Right did not tell me that there was a change of plans prior to Wednesday. He wanted to avoid confrontation and the undeniable resulting lecture. In his mind, I would have been disappointed when he canceled the impending plans. I would probably launch into a speech about my precious time and the importance of respecting each other’s schedules. On top of that, in his mind, his brother would have felt similarly shafted. Brother would most likely classify Mr. Right as pu$$y whipped or some variation on that theme. It could be equally as unpleasant as my reaction! In Mr. Right’s eyes, it was a loose/loose situation. A “catch 22” if you will, leaving Mr. Right afraid to make a decision.

During our phone call, he began to reason that he could attend both gatherings. Did I mentioned they had the same start time and both involved eating dinner? I was insulted by the afterthought and cared not for his last minute placations. In fact, I had to get off the phone to start writing the lecture I would present him next time we were together. I would entitle it, “How not to Piss off your Fiancé, Lessons in Consideration.” Alas, Mr. Right had driven me off the edge. I was immersed in my own righteousness and dismissed him for the evening. I told him I hoped he enjoys his evening with his brother but in a snarky bitchy way that suggested I really felt otherwise. It was cleansing.

In true Mr. Right fashion, he showed up at the restaurant just as the bill arrived. He was there to apologize and swear up and down that this would not happen again. Of course, he had gone to his brother’s affair and fulfilled his familial commitment. I appreciated the apologetic gesture but reminded him that the last minute cancelation hence my annoyance could have been avoided. It was not that I needed him to be available. The point was, [insert prepared lecture points here], I wanted him to respect my time and give me the courtesy of planning. God, it was hard for me to drop the issue. I imagine it was even harder for Mr. Right to sit through my reiterations of what I perceived as his relationship failures that night.

Overall, the whole thing sounds silly, wouldn’t you say? Mr. Right promised too much to too many and instead of helping him work through his evening’s plan, I took the situation as a personal affront. Mr. Right screwed up and my reaction was to mount my high horse in order to dictate what was wrong with the situation. Mr. Right making two sets of plans was the wrong execution of the right idea. He was coming from a good place. Had I taken the time to consider the facts in their entirety I could have been party to a better resolution.

Do not fly off the handle, it is an easy mistake to make; we are an emotional people. It is hard to be objective when the outcome of the given situation personally affects you. Try to remember an argument may have a winner but your relationship will be the ultimate loser.

Mr. Right….Ireland Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Right…the Trip to Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…