Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Plan B of Dating

Over the last couple of days, I've gotten some really great input about online dating and dating in general from friends and blog-readers alike.  And, you all know me and know what input does to this over-analytical brain!  So once the gears had settled down a bit and I could finally decipher what I thought, I realized that my subconscious is a bit more active in my decisions than I thought.  Let me explain...

A friend of mine who recently discovered this online diary of mine shared some gems he'd learned about online dating through a slightly more scientifically themed study he'd done for school a few years ago (like an actual study, not this daily electronic attempt to make sense of this confusion that I do!).  Besides his discovery that more women smile in their profile pictures than men do and more men use negative statements like "I don't want" while women tend to use the flip of that stating what they are looking for in a mate, he shared with me that many people who are online dating view it as a last resort.  Using this year (and this blog) as a period of self-discovery, I pondered this for a while.  Here's what I came up with:

I don't think you'll ever meet anyone who will openly tell you that their dream is to meet the love of their life online, unless they're a part of some strange reality show (or To Catch a Predator) and that surely isn't the case with me either.  Although I wouldn't be ashamed to say that my husband/boyfriend and I met via an online dating site because I think that the stigma has worn off (just a bit) and thanks to clever marketing by Match.com and other sites, it's becoming more and more obvious that online dating is a primary player in the social networking market.  I do think that some still view it as an opportunity to make connections for people who have no social skills (hence the reason for all of the smiley, out-going, trendy people on the eHarmony success commercials) and I can honestly say that there are a lot of people on these sites who have probably never felt comfortable in a single social situation in their lives.  I've met a few.  I've gone out with a few.  They are out there.  Five minutes spent on any dating website and you'll instantly see that, at least as far as the male options are concerned (no bias here, just not cruising for chicks!), there is a prevalence of people in the IT and Computer Technology industries.  Nothing against those people at all (they make a ton more money than I do and thank God for them when I get repeated "System performed an illegal operation and must shut down" messages.  How the heck does the system perform a function that it itself doesn't allow?!), but they do tend, generally speaking, to be a bit more introverted and more comfortable in front of a computer monitor than face-to-face.  So, is online dating their last resort or simply a benefit of modern technology, finally allowing them a social outlet in which they can thrive?

Not being introverted in the least, I, on the otherhand, have a different perspective of online dating.  Online dating, to this Singleton, is my "Simultaneous to Real Life Last Resort."  I think a lot of people will agree with this philosophy as well.  To me, online dating is my Plan B.   While I actively try to meet people in the real world, online dating allows me access to people I may never have crossed paths with otherwise.  How many bars or singles' nights or church groups or wine tastings or other meeting-potential opportunities can I attend in one week?  I do consider myself a born-again social butterfly, but when you throw in work, commuting, friends and sleeping into that schedule, the timeframe is very limited.  Conversely, online dating allows me to flirt, communicate, connect when I have time, basically around the clock.  I can scan profiles at 3:30 in the morning if I can't sleep.  I can send emails from my Blackberry on my lunch break at work.  I can have the ability to meet people ridiculously removed from my normal circle of friends or even my normal day-to-day circumstances, spicing up the pool of applicants, so to speak.  That's kind of exciting.  I have a lifelong friend who is ridiculously prophetic (for real, you should see some of the things she's predicted and been completely accurate on.  It's kind of scary) and has always told me that she knows I'll marry my best friend.  At a few points in my life, I thought I knew who that best friend was going to be, but I turned out to be way off target.  That just means I haven't met him yet or, if I have, he hasn't reached that level of friendship with me yet.  So if online dating creates that spark in the powder keg, so to speak, I'm completely open to that.

I know this sounds overly optimistic coming from someone who has had absolutely zero success with online dating over a history of many years and many more attempts.  But, the way I look at it is, I'll always have online dating.  If all else fails, I can always count on at least being able to have the opportunity to meet someone via an online dating site, all depending on how much effort I put into it.  And that effort can run simulataneously to real world endeavors. 

Don't get me wrong for one second, my heart's desire is to meet someone in the real world.  You can't tell me that no one I have ever or will ever come across in my life isn't "the one" or have a connection to "the one."  I don't buy that.  I have a sneaking suspicion that even if I were to meet "him" through some online communication, there will be some personal connection beyond electronic, either a mutual friend, the same previous workplace or some other random commonality in the history of our lives.   I kind of feel like online dating is making me a better dater in general, all in preparation for the final "first date."  And if I do meet "him" online somehow, imagine the years of conversations we'll be able to maintain with stories about how hard it was for me to finally find him! 

What do you think, Singletons and Marrieds?  Is or was online dating your last resort?  Did/do you feel like you've tried everything else to meet your soul mate and online dating is the only thing left?  Or does it complement your other strides towards Coupledom?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

12 Step Program for Shower-ers

As much as I've dogged eHarmony and their "pie in the sky," overly generalizing e-newsletter communications, I stumbled across an article today that really (dare I say it?) opened my eyes a bit.  Although I've heard all of these things before, I'd never heard them explained in a way that made sense.  Maybe it was necessary for me to have hurdled myself into Singledom and experienced some serial dating in order for these thoughts, analogies and rationales to make sense to me, but for some reason, after reading this article, I got an overwhelming inner-monologue that just repeated:  "That's it.  That's what you're doing wrong."

Now, taking into consideration that these aren't explanations for my serial first date status, it does help me understand my history with men in general.  Although, it goes against everything I've ever known.  To me, if you love someone, you should shower them with attention and displays of your affection, but...well, I won't ruin the article.  But!  I will say that, although I have dogged Ms. Raye previously for her "advice," I think she does a good job of breaking down why this showering and displaying might not be the best approach when dating.  Maybe I should save all that for when the initial pursuit is over.  Well, I'll let you read it, and you can be the judge.  Can I comment as we read?  Of course I can; it's my blog.

How To Show Him You're A Great Catch
By Rori Raye Author of best-selling eBook 'Have The Relationship You Want' and free newsletter

So you've finally met a man you really like and can see yourself having a relationship with him. Wait, he called me?  He asked me out for a second date?! Finally, holy cow. You should make an effort to show him you're a real find, right?  I'm assuming he's not already aware of that, so yes, yes, I should.

Actually, no. Oh. The fantastic thing about being a woman is that getting a man to see how wonderful you are doesn't involve any effort at all. In fact, it's all about simply being, not doing. Wait, what?

IT'S NOT WHAT YOU DO, IT'S WHAT YOU ARE

When we meet a great guy, we women often try to do, do, do whatever we can to make him see what a great catch we are. We'll go out of our way to do things for a man, plan outings together, and sometimes even say yes to things he wants that go against what we want. That's been the basic plot of my life for about ten years now.  Handmade cards, notes on car windows, random texts, evening plans of all things that interest him...

You can't convince a man to fall in love. Living proof of that.  But you can lead him there by connecting to his heart. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to let yourself be guided by your feminine energy rather than your masculine. Feminine energy is about being instead of doing. When you focus on simply being in the moment and enjoying a man's company and attention, you automatically shift your vibe so that he can step into the masculine, doer role.  See, my problem here is finding a man that wants to be the doer.  Being the doer would require taking initiative, and lately I can hardly get them to respond to an email.  I'll keep reading, though...

To do that, you must first be open to receive.  Oh, I'm open, Rori.  I'm so open...

A GREAT CATCH LETS A MAN GIVE TO HER My God, wouldn't that be nice?!

Inspiring a man to see you as the one woman he wants to be with forever is all about you being able to receive love.

Men fall in love when they give to you, not because of how much you give them or do for them. When you shower him with affection, attention, dinners, gifts, and always go out of your way to drive to his place, it makes him think of you as a mother or a friend instead of inspiring his emotional desire for you.  Hello, my name is Melanie and I'm a shower-er.  The first step is acknowledging I have a problem.  This, friends, this is what I do.  What I do wrong.

When you are open to receiving from a man, you are sending a message that you value yourself - you believe you are worthy of his time, attention, gestures, and ultimately his love. So resist the temptation to prove your worth by giving and instead create the space for him to give to you.  Well, see, I don't think I do it to prove my worth...well, maybe at first.  I think I eventually do it as a display of affection.  Like "see how much I like you, I'm willing to do everything you could possibly ask of me." But, by starting on this path in the first place, I'm only leading myself into Friend/Mother Zone, absolutely not the intended direction.

A GREAT CATCH SETS BOUNDARIES HE NEEDS TO RESPECT Easier said than done, Rori...

Men are competitive creatures who value what they have to work hard to get. If he gets a sense that you're completely devoted to him with very little investment on his part, he'll question your value.  Wow, this is pretty evident in my life.  Why am I just seeing this?

This means you do not give away exclusivity to a man until you have the commitment you want from him. Instead, you keep dating and meeting lots of different men so that you give yourself a chance to find out what you really want and need from a relationship. At the same time, you aren't prematurely cutting yourself off from your Mr. Right in case you haven't met him yet!  I cut myself off for too long, Rori!  Help me, help me!

When you keep the focus on yourself and keep yourself open to other men, you send the message loud and clear that you're a woman who puts herself first and that you are a prize. This elevates your "degree of difficulty" so he has to step up his game to get you all to himself...or risk another guy beating him to it.  All right, now I want to hear from the guys...is this true?  Or is this just some idealistic female perception of how you guys think?

A GREAT CATCH PUTS HERSELF FIRST  I'm trying...I really am. 

The most important thing to remember when you are dating a man and want him to realize how wonderful you are is to put your happiness first. 

If you love taking a dance class every Thursday night, don't give it up just because he's in the picture and you don't want him to think you're not interested. Letting him know you have a life before him actually makes him more attracted to you - not just because you're not about to drop everything for him, but because people who are passionate about their interests are interesting people!

So, tell him, "It would feel so great to see Thursday, but I have my dance class that night, and I love it. I'm free Tuesday or Friday." Then ask him what he thinks. It might feel a little scary to do this with a guy you really like, but the right guy will gladly re-arrange his plans to see you. Why? Because you've just proven you're a great catch he has to woo and win.  But when does this stop?  When do you start considering that you  might be excluding him from being a part of your life by being so rigidly scheduled and inflexible?

I wonder what the reverse of this is for men.  How do men show us that they're a great catch?  If I keep thinking about this, I might be a bit more critical of Ms. Raye's latest contribution to online dating strategics.  This article does imply that the burden is on the man to pursue us, which of course, as a female, is fine with me.  But, is it realistic in this day and age?  What do you think, Singletons?  How about you Marrieds?  What approach did you take to win the attention and affection of your significant other?

Writer's note:  To give credit where credit is due, here is information about the author.  Rori teaches women how to break out of the patterns that have been keeping them from truly connecting with a man's heart so that they can experience deep intimacy.  To learn specific ways you can step out of the "doing" role in your relationship and into the more feminine energy "feeling" role that is so alluring and magnetic to a man, subscribe to Rori's free e-newsletter.  You'll discover even more effortless ways to let a man know he's lucky to have you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"They Don't Date Fat Women, Do They?"

Being the "benefit of the doubt" kind of girl that I am, I made the repeated mistake (you'd think I'd learn) of responding to Mr. Forward's email.  I think I go through these speed bumps of unintelligent thoughts where I figure I have nothing to lose and, in want of male attention, throw my morals to the wind and overlook blatant red flags.  Although I continued to give him the time of day, I did not answer his inappropriate question regarding a rock in a stream and my potential activity on said rock.  (Confused? Click here.)  Glossing over the top and answering all the rest of his G-rated questions, I stupidly responded in hopes that maybe my attempts to steer things back in the direction of a conversation less likely to come out of the mouth of a fifteen year old boy would prompt him to do the same.  Sweet, Melanie.  Simple, sweet, hopeful Melanie.

Mr. Forward wrote me back and answered my question regarding why he tended to date outside of his own race by making very generalized statements regarding particular ethnicities of women.  Most white women, he told me, are just after the dream of the big house, the fancy car, the husband who pays all the bills and the over-the-top Christmas parties.  Nice.  Asian women take good care of their men.  Black women are strong and independent.  Indian women are "well kept" and fun loving.  Latinas are hardworking and enjoy "pumping out babies."  Oh, I found a winner here, Singletons...a real Grade A racist.  I'm not impressed.  Nor am I stupid enough to write him back.

Although he completely overlooked the question I had regarding his religion or the lack thereof on his profile, he did take delight in telling me that he's not a virgin and has a pretty scandalous sexual history with his ex.  As in currently.  As in, he didn't imply that the history had come to a close.  He told me to feel free to ask him about it and his divorce, he was happy to share.  Ha.  I am not happy to share, with anyone let alone an ex.

You'd think that after all this I would have read enough to know that this guy wasn't going to make it into any chapters of my autobiography.  At first glance, I was actually considering writing him back (I obviously needed a healthy shot of self-esteem at that point) until I got to the last paragraph of his email.  Remember that my photos hadn't posted to eVow.com when I first heard from Mr. Forward?  I was impressed that he had given me the benefit of the doubt considering my usual lack of response to "Ask me for a Photo" profiles.  The benefit is dead.  Mr. Forward asked me if I could share my Facebook page with him (uh...no) because he wanted to see more pictures of me.  He said that since I listed that I was "Full figured" on my eVow.com profile (don't lie about body type, people, it will always come back to haunt you), he wanted to get an assessment of "just how Full we're talking."

Now, I'd usually have a full-fledged, major problem with this anyway, but throw in the fact that Mr. Forward is no bodybuilder himself and seems rather stout (to put it kindly...why am I being kind?  He's big.) in his own photos is even more of an insult.  Why does this double standard exist in dating?  I was willing to see past the size of his body and consider him for his personality and traits that he may have that would compliment mine, so why does my body size play a determining factor?  If you can't love me whether I'm 100 pounds or 500 pounds, then that's a character flaw in you.  Mr. Forward is so against "white women who only want 'The Dream'," but seems perfectly fine with his pursuit of "The Dream" woman?  Why are men so willing to date a woman who has countless other flaws, but a couple of pounds extra and I'm automatically scratched from the list?

Granted, I don't think it's any real great loss not being included in Mr. Forward's list of dateable women, but I've run across this issue my entire adult life.  And the media only instigates this double standard. Watch television and tell me how many sitcoms or commercials have overweight, borderline unattractive male main characters married to thin, beautiful, younger female characters.  Then watch for the reverse.  You won't find it.  So, what that's telling us is that we, as women, have to accept our men regardless of their physical features, but the men don't necessarily have to do the same...?

Here's my thing.  I could stand to lose some of this plus-sexiness, I'm well aware of that, for my health and to feel more comfortable in my own body (and for the fashion options).  But, I will not do it to appease or attract a man.  I don't want to be one of those women who can't eat an M&M in front of her husband for fear of ridicule, insults or being left alone if I gain an ounce.  I will not be miserable just to have a guy stand next to me and claim he loves a pseudo version of myself who happens to be thinner.  Plus, I'm sure there are plenty of things about these prejudiced men's bodies that they wouldn't want to be judged and excluded for by women.  Just so happens that their pants do a good job of covering it up.


*Writer's Note:  The title of this post is in tribute to one of the greatest and most talked about episodes of television in history:  Designing Women, Episode #4.11:  "They Shoot Fat Women, Don't They?"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Serial Singleton Seriousness

I don't get it, Singletons, I just don't get it.  Remember earlier in the summer when I said I was playing some cards close to my chest?  Yeah, laying those bad boys out on the table today for the world to see, and I ain't bluffing.  I've decided after several futile attempts to be successful by keeping it out of the blog, it's time to let it go and set it free for all of the blogosphere to enjoy (and critique).  Enjoy, Singletons.

So, at the beginning of the summer, I hesitatingly allowed a friend of mine to do an electronic set-up.  She'd talked up a friend of hers for years, but we'd never met, and she assured me that we'd not only get along, but probably even really hit it off.  We both liked to pick on her, so that was an instant conversation-starter, and she was confident in the fact that we'd at least be friends.  Okay, okay, I thought, I'll give it a chance.  After three years of coaxing, I figured I had nothing to lose and was already in the throws of online dating, so one more character in the cavalcade wouldn't make much difference.

It was like a glimmer of hope.  As he worked for several months overseas, we maintained an almost constant stream of communication via email, starting through Facebook and then transitioning to emails of novel-length proportions.  We had this really unique old fashioned pen pals meets modern-day technology way of getting to know each other.  As I fought off the ridiculous stream of boring and laborious emails from online daters, an email from Mr. Overseas was always welcome and turned into some of the high points of my daily internet activity.  We talked about everything and kept it at a friendly, easygoing level.  I was excited about his return to the States and so was our mutual friend. 

At several points and pretty early on, we talked about meeting in person, so a week after his return, we met for dinner.  Everything was surprisingly normal.  Unlike previous men who'd asked to spend an evening with me, Mr. Overseas was polite and courteous, following the traditions of dating to the letter.  He picked me up at home; he opened doors for me; he was dressed appropriately; we had great conversation for hours and hours over a relaxed and comfortable dinner; he drove me home and walked me to my door.  I was shocked.  Gentlemen still existed, thank goodness!  Within the next few hours, I decided that it had in fact been a very successful meeting, and I hadn't noticed any red flags as I had with previous dinner partners.  I was optimistic and hoped that he'd enjoyed the evening too.  Much to my surprise, I received another confirmation of his ability to follow dating protocol and received a text message the following morning sharing that he too had had a great time.  Wonderful!  I replied and hoped that this common enjoyment would result in a second date (finally, holy cow, what a dry spell!). 

And then it happened.  Well, actually it didn't happen is a more precise way to put it.  Nothing happened.  Days turned into weeks and I received absolutely no communication from Mr. Overseas.  We went from multiple daily exchanges to nothing literally overnight.  Radio silence.  As the time rapidly approached for a prior agreed upon meet-up with our mutual friend and her boyfriend for a local sporting event, I got nervous.  I asked her in my usual subtle and eloquent way:  "Did I freak him out?"  I didn't want him to feel obligated to take me to this game nor did I want to subject myself or our mutual friend to hours of social torture.  She explained to me that she thought he did really enjoy his evening with me but that he might be worried that he was the more vulnerable of the two of us in this potential situation.  Reassuring her that I wasn't eyeballing any bridal gown shops or considering an elopement to Ringgold any time soon (insider Georgia joke, sorry), I got the idea that I might have given off the impression that I wasn't the kind of girl that men casually date.  In other words, to him, I might have reeked of desire for a relationship.  And although everything seemed in place to have potential, I had in fact "freaked him out."

Convinced by my friend to attend the game and just have a good time, I did, only because New Melanie isn't taking things as seriously as Old Melanie used to.  I had a good time, the game was great, the conversation was a bit awkward at first, but once everyone loosened up a bit, we fell right back into the same groove we'd had at our first meeting.  I thought that maybe this second "date" would, at the very least, keep the ball rolling towards establishing a friendship and see what happened from there, which was all I really wanted in the first place.  I was optimistic again and considered that maybe I just needed to take the wheel a little bit and steer this thing in a more comfortable direction for both of us.  Later that night, I texted Mr. Overseas and thanked him for the game and said that I had a great time.  He immediately responded that he was glad I enjoyed it and that he'd had fun too.  Okay...this all felt familiar. And then it happened again.  Weeks later now and nothing.  No Facebook chats, no Facebook messages, no status comments, no phone calls, no emails.  Nothing.

So, the writing on the wall is pretty clear.  For whatever reason, I was rejected double-time.  But, I don't get the hot and cold mentality.  After months of emailing when we were both well aware of the fact that this was an attempted set-up, wouldn't you think that a reason for this disappearance would be considerate?  Even if he said that he liked me but thought we'd be better friends or the old "It's not you, it's me" line would suffice.  Even if he didn't like me at all and was completely repulsed by me, falling off the face of the earth twice is odd behavior.  Is the burden on me to continue our communication and I'm the one dropping the ball?  It's okay if he didn't like me; I'm a big girl, I can handle it.  He's not the first guy who didn't have visions of matrimony with me, nor I'm sure will he be the last.  At this point, the level of disappointment is pretty sky high, not for the loss of a potential dating situation, but for the activities of the person who was pretty honest, upfront and straightforward with me throughout the summer.  Someone that I clearly defined as "normal" in most conversations in which I was describing him let me down with very abnormal (but typical of the men I've met over the last few months) behavior.

What am I doing wrong here?!?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"I See Bad Online Daters..."

I'm losing steam, people.  I know what's going to happen.  One day, someone is going to find me rocking back and forth on the floor of my bedroom.  Clutching a laptop, I will be drooling and mumbling something like "eHarmony....Match.com....Plentyoffish.com...." under my breath.  My hair and clothing will most definitely be disheveled, closely resembling that of the girl from The Ring.  No one will be able to understand a word I say, but as the men in white coats glance back through my History on Internet Explorer, they'll be able to assuredly contribute my demise to online dating.  I'm pretty sure it will eventually be a checkable option printed on all in-take forms at most insane asylums.

A few weeks ago, I was strangely persuaded to make a go at eVow.com, Plentyoffish.com's newest online dating endeavor designed specifically for those people with long-term relationship and/or marriage intentions.  Sounds peachy!  After weeks of actively maintaining my presence on this new site, I've had contact with one man.  We'll call him Mr. Forward.  Mr. Forward is a recently divorced Atlantan who is moderately attractive (according to his pictures...remember Mr. Braves Fan? Yeah, taking it with a grain of salt.) and who actually gave me the benefit of the doubt, responding to an introduction email I sent him without having seen my pictures.  Had he not shared that my profile was lacking them, I probably wouldn't have known.  Apparently, you have to click another button to make your pictures public after you upload them (who posts private pictures?!).  I appreciated his open mindedness and responded with my usual initial conversation sprinkled with a light helping of getting-to-know-you questions.  He responded within a few hours.

In said response, he told me that he doesn't usually date women of his own race, but was willing to go out on a limb.  Thanks?  He also told me that he is very inquisitive and likes to ask women a lot of questions right off the bat.  Finally!  Exactly what I've been waiting for!  No more "How is your day?" or "What's for dinner?" boring emails/texts!  I read on.  He'd included a list of questions in bullet format and started with the basics:  "What's your favorite food?", "What kind of music do you listen to?," all building up to the heavy hitters.  He followed his general inquisition with a much more scandalous one:  "If we were in love, what would you do with me tonight?", "If you could choose between the following, what would it be:  cuddling on a couch, making out in a car or having sex on a rock in the middle of a stream?" and "Do you agree with traditional gender roles, such as the woman staying home and maintaining the household while the husband goes out and earns the bacon?"  Oh, Mr. Forward.  You've asked the wrong girl.

Completely overlooking the blatant overstepping of using the word "love" in the second email and even more so using the word "sex," the first thing that jumped to my attention was his last question.  Now, I will be honest and say that I did some assuming here based on how he worded the question.  Had he asked what I thought about traditional gender roles and not if I agreed with them, I would have been a bit less sharp-tongued. (Sidenote:  who enjoys sex on a rock in the middle of a stream?  Is that meant to be romantic?  Because personally, I'd imagine you'd end up with a lot of cuts, bruises, scrapes, and other physical maladies that would all trump whatever split-second romance was involved.  Plus, where is he going that there are human body sized rocks?!?).  I was happy to share my opinion on "traditional" gender roles.

As someone who watched my mother be a stay-at-home mom of her own choice for my entire life, I was well aware that it was not the life for me upon becoming conscious that there were other options for women.  I commend stay-at-home mothers and completely agree that they contribute just as much as any full-time employee at any industry in the country.  But, it is not my life's calling.  I would never let my family suffer because of a job, but I completely need to feel like I am a contributing part of society, that my brain is being used for something other than keeping track of soccer practices, school snacks and bath times.  I can't wait to do all of those things, but I need an outlet, an area in which I can feel as though I'm making a difference in the world, not just in my house with my kids and husband.  I would go stir crazy in a matter of weeks.  I'd need other adult-interactions so that my marriage didn't suffer, so that I had things to talk to my husband about other than what kind of trouble the kids got into at school that day.  I know that many times the responsibilities of the household fall upon the woman and that it happens sometimes without anyone realizing its happening.  But, I know I can handle them and a job.  And feel that I shouldn't have to be the one to compromise my life's goals and aspirations simply because I'm the one with the uterus.

Now, I wasn't as direct in my response to Mr. Forward and surely did not use any anatomically correct terms.  I probably should have since he felt that it was appropriate to use certain language he chose, but I resisted and took the high road.  I simply told him in no uncertain terms that I did not agree with the "barefoot and pregnant" philosophy.  It's been days.  I've gotten no response.  I'm thinking I've received Rejection By Silence. 

What do you think about "traditional" gender roles, Singletons?  Would you be willing to give up your career to maintain a household?  Would you sacrifice to that extent if your spouse wanted you to (male or female)?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

10 Years of 20 Things After 30

Exactly three months from today, I will turn the big 3-0.  Honestly, I'm not quite sure how that happened.  I feel like I woke up and somehow skipped everything between about 22 and today.  I remember college (amazingly) and I remember the last year or so, but whenever anyone mentions being about 25 or 26 years old, I try to remember those years of my own life and kind of feel like I missed them.  I think "Wait, I was 25 once...wasn't I? I had to have been...I'm 29 now." Obviously nothing overly exciting happened during those years, and I can truthfully say that I had some tough times, so maybe that's why they don't stick out in my memory.  I don't want the same thing to happen over the next ten years.

So, completely stealing borrowing an idea from one of my favorite bloggeristas and fellow struggling Singleton, Neurotic Workaholic (check out her blog, I promise you won't be disappointed), I've decided to put together a list of things I don't want to miss out on in my thirties.  I don't want to wake up and think, "What did I do in my thirties? And why can't I remember them?" Neurotic's list from yesterday is excellent, and she inspired me to start thinking about these things for myself in a serious light.  I kept mentally adding things to it at random times overnight, while I was getting the coffee maker ready for its early-morning responsibilities, while I was packing my after-work change of clothes for my chiropractic appointment.  My brain is a multi-tasking wonder to behold.  I decided to start today (as I enter the last quarter of my twenties...I promise you I won't start a countdown.  Or at least I won't publish it daily.) to give myself plenty of prep time so I can hit the ground running on December 22.  Or at least after Christmas.  No, don't let me start procrastinating!  December 22; hold me accountable! 

Things I'd Like To Do In My Thirties
(in no particular order)
  1. Exit Singledom.  (duh)
  2. Have or adopt at least one child.  With or without a man.  I can do it.  No matter what my sister says.
  3. Write a novel.  It doesn't even have to get published; I just want to put one on paper.
  4. Go on one real vacation every year.  I've missed entirely too many travel opportunities.
  5. Have a savings account that doesn't look like I'm still 13 years old.
  6. Buy a house.  Preferably a cute little cottage style house that I can decorate like Meg Ryan's in "You've Got Mail."  Wow, I totally just got the irony there.
  7. Visit Las Vegas and spend entirely too much money on things I'd never do at home.
  8. Visit Italy and find locations where my father's family lived before they emigrated.
  9. Get physically fit.  I've got 10 years...this is accomplishable, right?
  10. Ride a motorcycle.
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  12. Make, in salary, twice what it cost me to attend college per year.
  13. Learn to play the guitar.
  14. See New York City at Christmas time.  Preferably with the person who helps me accomplish #1.
  15. Own a bedroom suite.  Like a grown-up one.  I'm trying to transition out of "Just got out of college" furniture.  It's obviously a slow process.
  16. Learn how to properly dance.  As in, taking a class.  And by dancing, I don't mean MTV stuff, I mean "Dancing with the Stars" stuff.
  17. Learn to speak another language, probably either Spanish or Italian.  I could cheat and do Spanish, building up my seven years of schooling to a conversational level.
  18. Run a 5K.  (This will only be accomplishable if I pull off #9, so that's why it's WAY down on the list.)
  19. Finally get or start my Masters degree that I should have started immediately following undergraduate school, like everybody told me I should have, because then I'd get caught up in life and never go back. 
  20. See at least 5 other Major League Baseball stadiums besides Turner Field.  I can't be a baseball fan with such a limited experience.
Okay!  Twenty things in ten years.  I can do it.  I know I can.  If I put as much determination into numbers 2-20 that I've been putting into accomplishing #1, I'm sure I will be coasting into the finish line this time ten years from now.  And how much more fun fulfilling all these goals would be with someone to share them with!  Focusing on number 1 right now...  eyes of the prize.

P.S. I intend to celebrate in style and am seriously considering a week-long themed celebration.  You are all invited, of course, and I am completely open to theme suggestions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Faces of Online Dating

I'm so bored.  Thoroughly and completely bored out of my gourd.  If you can possibly stand the excitement (sarcasm) of my current dating life, I'll give you an update.  Yawn.  Hold on...let me stretch...rub my eyes...okay, I'm awake...here goes.

I've determined that there are at least five types of men out there in the online dating or electronic hook-up world, four of which I've met in the last couple of weeks.  The first type are the Snooze Fest guys.  Poor communicators, they quickly fall into a pattern of repetition, mostly asking how your day went and nothing else.  Every single day.  My advice to gentlemen who fall into the Snooze Fest category is plain and simple:  read the profile of the girl in which you're interested.  If she's got any semblance of personality or communication skills herself, she's spent some time including at least one bit of information of which you could ask her a question.  Okay, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, maybe she has absolutely nothing to spark an interrogative statement.  Did she list what city she lives in?  Ask her how long she's lived there; ask her if she likes living there; ask her if her family lives there or did she move there on her own?  Repeated boring emails eventually equal no response.  If we met in a bar, would you stand next to me, turn to face me every five minutes and ask me how my day has been, over and over and over again?  No.  No, you wouldn't. 

The next type of guy in the online dating world is the Faceless Man.  The Faceless Man refuses, for whatever true reason, to post a photograph, claiming that he believes that women should be interested in what he has to offer on paper and not what his photo looks like.  Try reversing that situation and I can't tell you many men who'd respond to a woman's request to communicate if she didn't have a photo.  I recently tripped over a Faceless Man, Mr. Cheap.  His original email to me had his name listed as "Hot Doc."  I was skeptical.  Soon after, it changed to "GA Doc."  Probably a bit more truthful.  I've come to discover that most of the time Faceless Men aren't resisting the photo post because they're hideous but because they don't make good photo selection choices.  After our email communications had hit the speed bump of him insinuating he was going to use my professional connections to further his endeavors, I think Mr. Cheap felt it was time to woo me with his charming good looks.  He finally sent me a photo this weekend (in which he accused me of using a "Glamour Shots" photo for mine.  Not funny.).  When I hesitatingly opened the attachment, I found a man who looked way beyond his 39 years, was in desperate need of a hair cut and shave, had held the camera entirely too close to his face and had a bushel of chest hair escaping the top of his v-neck t-shirt.  I'm sure that Mr. Cheap may look quite different in person, but this photo does not do him any favors.  Unfortunately, it was the nail in his coffin that was pretty much already sealed shut.  Had he done as all websites suggest and posted his photo from the beginning, we could have saved each other some very valuable biological clock time.

The third type of guy is the Overkill Guy.  These guys can sometimes blur the line between Overkill and Snooze Fest.  Overkill Guys barrage you with contact from the get-go, asking for your phone number immediately, texting you non-stop as if you've known each other for years, getting offended when you don't respond as quickly as they are and usually fizzling out with little warning.  You don't really mind their disappearance because you never knew anything about them other than their phone number anyway.  Advice? Communicate.  Inspire some reason for me to want to text/call you.  Give me something to talk about other than "Hi, it's Melanie from (Insert Online Dating Site Here)."  Establish a foundation and let me know that you were inspired to communicate with me based on something other than my photo.  And then back off a little!  Not everyone stays logged into their online dating profile around the clock.  Thankfully.  And some of us are balancing more than one site at a time, so this would be virtually impossible anyway.  You know, if I was doing that...  Not saying I am.  Oh hell...

Fourthly, you'll easily find the Won't Take "No" For An Answer Guy.  As a Singleton who isn't exactly batting them away with a stick, this is a hard concept for me to grasp.  I've learned that just because someone contacts you online doesn't mean you're obligated to reply back with sentiments of interest.  It is okay to not be interested in communicating with one or more of the millions of people with online profiles.  So, when I politely say that I feel as though our profiles aren't compatible, that means "try your luck elsewhere," not "keep sending me messages asking me if I want to chat on a daily basis."  I'm not going to open my inbox on the third, fourth or fifth message and suddenly realize you're the man of my dreams.  You either come across desperate or unable to keep track of all the women you're sending chat requests to.  Words of wisdom to these guys:  stop wasting your time.  I'm sure there are women out there that would like to chat with you.  You're missing out on them by repeatedly contacting girls that have been courteous enough to help you not waste your time.

Lastly, there's Dateable, Take Home to Your Parents, Can't Believe You Met Him Online, How Do We Get Ourselves in an eHarmony Commercial? Guy.  Haven't found him yet.  I know he's out there...





Monday, September 20, 2010

Long Distance Relationships Keep the Post Office in Business

While I drudge deeper and deeper into this endless pit of dating uncertainty, I'm doing two things:  questioning everything and trying to kill this Negative Nancy that is slowly becoming a major player in my brain.  My recent drought of quality activity has not only put a damper on my blog material, but it has also been a bit of a personal downer.  You know, you start questioning whether or not it really is something wrong with you. 

As I start to broaden my dating horizons a bit more (because honestly, he ain't beating my door down or standing right outside of it waiting with a handful of flowers and a box of chocolates...aww...that would be nice.  Back to reality.), I've been comtemplating the prospects of different dating variables that I hadn't previously considered.  All of the online dating outlets allow you to set your parameters at whatever level you'd prefer.  Currently, all of mine are set to send me matches only within a fifty mile radius of my home zip code.  The funny part about that is that all of the actual City of Atlanta zip codes are included in my radius.  I had no idea how snobby true Atlantans are!  When they saw my location, even after several email exchanges, they'd tell me that I lived entirely too far away and weren't interested in a "long distance relationship."  I live 35 miles from the center of downtown Atlanta.  "Inside the perimeter" and "outside the perimeter" are two totally different worlds.  But, I do the same thing when Chattanooga residents pop up on my list.  Something about being in another state makes it feel too far away.  Silly, I know.

So that got me thinking...even though I don't consider downtown Atlanta to be "long distance" myself, am I limiting myself just as these Atlantans are doing by not increasing my range?  Could my Mr. Right be online dating too and just happen to live 51 miles away?  And could I possibly make a go at a real long distance relationship?

I will admit, I don't have a whole lot of relationship experience in general and absolutely none in terms of long distance.  It would probably be completely foreign to me to not only adjust to a significant other, but also to one miles and miles away with whom I'd have very limited face-to-face contact.  Although, with my online dating track record, that might work in my favor.  Lately, men seem to really like me until they meet me in person.  Or at least they lose some kind of interest after the first real meeting.  Perhaps a continued phone/email/text/IM relationship would improve my chances of success with a real one.  (Don't ask me what I'm doing to promote this 'Meet her once, hit the road' mentality in my men.  It's not an attempt to muster sympathy; it's the honest to goodness truth.  If you have any rationale for this, please, please! tell me.)

Can long distance relationships be successful?  From a completely unbiased and untainted opinion, I think they can.  But, only with a clear and definitive end to the long distance, in my personal opinion.  I know myself well enough, and I'm like a little kid.  If you tell me I can have something on Saturday and I sit around waiting patiently, twitching my foot in anticipation, counting down the seconds until Saturday only for you to tell me that I have to wait another week, I will lose it.  But, with a clear goal and end in sight, I can handle just about anything. 

How flexible are people nowadays to move for the one they love?   At what stage do you say "Okay, I'm moving to your town to be with you" and it's acceptable and your parents don't think you've lost your ever-lovin' mind?  What if both people absolutely love the respective city that they're living in and don't want to move?

From a female perspective, I would imagine that any significant distance between me and the object of my affection would be one of the biggest challenges that I could face from an emotional standpoint.  I think women need, not only emotional reassurance of a return of interest, but also physical reassurance.  How a man interacts with a woman in person can really effect how we perceive him.  Girls know what I mean here.  If he touches your back while you're walking through a door (especially one that he's opened for you!) or walks close enough so that your arms brush can really speak volumes about his level of interest and solidify the intent behind the words that he's said to you.  And I honestly don't mean this in the x-rated form that it can so easily come across as. Words are great, but without action, we can get confused.  I think trusting would be a big issue for me too.  Again, although you can say your words of devotion all day long, those long periods of alone-time can make the mind do wild things and come up with some pretty elaborate reasons why you haven't heard from him for two days, three days, a week, good God, he hates me and he's run off with his secretary.  You may start to think he's found someone else and then start doing some looking yourself to gratify that need for a physical connection. 

But, in all honesty, I think if both people are as devoted to the success of the relationship as the other, act and talk just like they would if they lived five minutes down the road from each other, and have a clear indicator of when the long distance will no longer be a hindrance, it can work.  I think there is even a bit of a potential for that whole "absense makes the heart grow fonder" thing, if both are missing each other at the same intensity.

What do you think, Singletons?  Have you had success or failure with long distance relationship attempts?  Think I should broaden my radius?  What do you consider "long distance?"

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Singleton's Prayer

Help me to be patient and kind.  Help me to realize that not everyone on the planet has the same communication skills that I do, nor do they all put the ridiculous amount of emphasis on grammatical correctness in writing and speaking that I do. 

Help me to realize that there are a lot of single men out there and, although I only need one (good one, please), they aren't all searching for the same thing I am.  It's okay if they're not all long-term relationship-to-result-in-marriage hunting, but I have to be patient enough to sort through those that are in search of other "types" of relationships.  And stay clear away from any sites with the words "booty," "sugar" or "intimate" in their titles.  Eyes on the prize.

Help me to resist the temptation to rush to judgment.  Remind me of my love for Pride & Prejudice and don't let me fall into the ways of Mr. Darcy, judging before knowing.  Don't allow me to anticipate negativity; help me to go into each new situation without prejudice, without foreshadowing doom (or some kind of possible repellent physical defect) and without fear that the men I meet will somehow paint me into a corner of hastened matrimony against my will.

Help me to realize that when it's right, I'll know it.  Help me to be strong against the desperate urge to settle for the first smiling face that shows interest.  Help me not to fall in "love" simply because a member of the male species shows me attention.  Help me to know the difference between friend-love and romantic-love, for the first time in my life.  Help me to reign in my excitement when I meet someone I connect with to a more manageable level or help me find someone who is just as excited as I am.

Help me to understand that I am not the first person to leave my twenties as a Singleton and surely will not be the last.  My life isn't over when I turn 30; I won't curl up into a shriveled old prune, never to be noticed by another man again.  Fill my inbox with newsletters about how life and love (in all its facets) are so much better after 30.  Help me to be strong, that because I haven't quite figured out this whole dating thing yet doesn't mean that I'm some kind of failure, it just means that I'm not ready yet.  Grant me the serenity to be in a peaceful place while I wait.

Help me to find a middle ground in the control arena.  I don't want to wrestle with constant control of everything, but I also don't want to feel like I'm losing control.  Help me to find a spot where I can be comfortable: life with a basic structure sprinkled with random dashes of spontaneity. 

And most of all, help me to find someone...well, normal.  He doesn't have to be a movie star, a GQ model, an eloquent speaker, rich, drive a particular car, wear particular clothes, have graduated from a particular school or work in a particular industry.  All I'm asking for is that he looks at me the same way I look at him. 

Amen.

(And under my breath, to the last paragraph I'd add "wants to meet me in real life, won't tell me about his closeted love affair with Bret Michaels through dinner, wears appropriate footwear to a nice restaurant, wears a shirt without stains on it to meet a girl for the first time...  Sorry...I had to.  It was getting a bit too melodramatic there for my taste.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cranking Up the Honesty Factor

So far, I've done everything to the letter.  I've written my online dating profiles within the parameters established by the field's "experts" and followed the guidelines to a "t."  I've read all of their suggestions, even analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of other's profiles and utilizing the things I've learned. I've worked diligently at being engaging, rather witty if I should say so myself, showing interesting sides of my personality, all while encouraging the reader to ask questions and begin an online conversation that will hopefully end in a face-to-face meeting.  So far, a few connections have been "successful" if meeting in person is your only indicator of success, but haven't ventured far past that initial introduction to Real Melanie.

Three days of a borderline down-in-the-dumps mentality has created this strange, sinister sarcasm in me.  And honestly, a bit of a flippant attitude towards the whole dating freak show.  With this mindset, I'm incredibly tempted to rewrite all of my online dating profiles.  I mean, they tell you to be truthful, so why not be full-on honest?  So, here goes:

About me:  I'm a 29 year old Atlanta-transplant who enjoys reading, traveling, politics, writing, random road trips, loves animals and children, is trying to live a faith-filled life, doesn't smoke, drinks socially, and my parents are still married to each other (for some reason, this is important to a lot of people...?). <-the real version is a bit more involved than this; consider this a Cliffs' Notes version.

About my match:  At this point, nothing you can say can surprise me.  I've met men who tell me I talk too much, men who tell me I don't talk enough, men who tell me I am overly critical, men who assume I want to marry them after the first date, men who act like they want to marry me after the first date, men who I've freaked out, men who've freaked me out, borderline stalkers, men who disappear off the face of the earth with little to no (believable) explanation, men who can't write a complete sentence and speak in text-speak, men who are eloquent writers but do nothing but talk about themselves and inflate their own egos, men who don't look anything like their online profile pictures, men who've told me I'm cheap, men who want to use me for my professional connections (This is new...I'll come back to this one), men who have sent me completely inappropriate text messages or photographs, men who are technically still married to the last girl they met online, men who can't commit to anything beyond text messages, men who tell me that they aren't interested because I'm plus-sexy, men who are only interested because I'm plus-sexy, men who are religious zealots, men who have no religion whatsoever, men who take me to dinner and tell me that I've been in the bathroom for too long, men who take me to dinner and tell me I have to get water to drink or "we'll be washing dishes" (direct quote), men who ask me if I'd like to meet them in "Hogsmeade for a tall glass of butterbeer," men who only complain to me about how horrible their ex was, men who make me drive halfway around the state to meet them so they can literally almost walk to dinner...  So, if you feel like you have something to offer other than any of the above mentioned characteristics, please contact me.  Right now.

Too much?  Maybe.  But, that's how I feel right now.  Remember Mr. Cheap?  I'm sorry, I don't think I actually formally introduced you to him the other day.  He's the "gentleman" who contacted me after my stupid clever placement of my email address on an online profile so that I wouldn't have to pay for a membership.  He told me that he too was too cheap to pay for their services.  So, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and although he has a few strikes in his corner (one of which being that he's a full ten years older than me), we started emailing.  He has seen a photo of me, but I have never seen one of him.  Unfair advantage, I know, but I'm trying to remain as unshallow as possible in this increasingly difficult endeavor.  After he listed the fourteen states he's lived in (running from the law? Yeah, I thought that too.) and other random interesting facts about each other, I decided I was comfortable enough to tell him where I work.  When he realized that I am employed by a major player in Atlanta's non-profit community, he decided this was divine intervention.  What a connection!, he announced.  He intends to use his new "connection" to further his lifelong dream of opening a medical clinic for Atlanta's underprivileged.  My particular non-profit has no medical affiliation whatsoever.  I sent him the link to our website.  Connection lost.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Emoticons (or "Take that, Writer's Block")

I've decided that, whenever I hit a giant, unrelenting, brick wall of writer's block, I will simply express my current mood or dating situation in photos.  Don't you love Google image search?  What did we do before it existed?  Does anyone remember what life was like before we could find a screenshot of any television show that had ever existed?  Have you ever Google image searched yourself? Go try it... Ahh...technology.  Anyway.  I submit the following for your viewing/commenting pleasure.  Feel free to suggest alternate photos to assist, convince, dissuade, persuade and other action words.  Hopefully either my writer's block will have released it's death-grip hold on my brain within the next 24 hours (or I'm sure you'll all go scurrying off to Hyperbole and a Half, one of my new favorite blogs) or something wonderfully exciting will happen to spark a vein of creativity that no mental speed bump could suppress!  Here's hoping!


No, I haven't run out of my office stash of Cheez-its.  Although I love that the internet brought me into the blogosphere, I think our ability to be constantly connected to every second of other peoples' lives has turned us into occasional mini-stalkers, who, in turn, create scenarios and suspicions that are unnecessary and unfounded.   When I say "our" and "us," I really mean "my" and "me."  Trying to sound a bit more general, and I'm sure I'm not fooling anybody.



Sometimes I feel like the girl who was invited to the party, got there and nobody else had shown up.  I get all excited about something, talk it up to everybody, work myself into an emotional tizzy, then find out that it really wasn't that special to begin with.



But, the eternal optimistic, I realize that I gain nothing by giving up. 


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Meet my Inner Saboteur

I can't make the noise in my head be quiet.  I have this little inner-Melanie that does nothing all day sometimes except drive me crazy with stupid thoughts, doubts, worries and frustrations.  Nag, nag, nag.  This is probably a sign of a much larger problem (big fan of self-diagnosis), but sometimes she's my worst enemy.  She doesn't stick around for long, but she's definitely here today.  Let's call her Meanie.

Meanie is creating two main battles in my brain right now:  first, she's telling me that I'm going to settle (I'll explain in a minute...the definition here is a bit different from the mainstream) and second, she won't let me let go of the past (which is obvious, since we've addressed this topic several times before and it still keeps rearing it's ugly, ugly head). 

Today, she's winning the first battle simply because she makes me unable to trust myself.  As I meet more and more seemingly eligible bachelors, I tend to "like" almost immediately.  To put it lightly, that scares the crap out of me.  I can't possibly be meeting man after man with all of them reaching date-worthy status.  The odds of that have got to be astronomical.  I worry that I'm liking entirely too quickly and that it isn't real.  I wonder if Meanie is making me confuse my desire to be in at least one quality relationship before I begin menopause with actually desiring the human being for their individual characteristics.  I worry even more that I may actually find a guy who is in this same, weird head space, we'll convince each other that we're in love with the other, get married, and wake up one morning with stunned looks on our faces wondering "Who the heck are you?!"  What if my Meanie meets someone else's self-inflicted, inner-saboteur and they bond?  Do I just like the thought of liking?  Am I in love with being in love?  Luckily, there is no specific guy on the receiving end of this confusion right now, but I can see Meanie easily coaxing me to fall into it.  At my age, watching seemingly everyone around me have what I'd like to have one day, she points her finger at me laughingly and asks "Wouldn't it be easy just to grab it as soon as it presents itself?"  How will I know that I am actually in love with any specific guy for all of his wonders and fabulousness and not just with the concept of Coupledom?  Maybe I've just solved the riddle of the ridiculous American divorce rate.  I hope and intend to only marry once for all the right reasons, but I worry that Meanie might make me sabotage myself with (oh God, I'm going to say it) desperation.

I think the second worry goes hand-in-hand with the first worry.  Meanie has convinced me of this idiotic notion that my past lack of real relationships (or insert "lifetime of pseudo-relationships" here and the sentence reads the same way) is somehow a reflection on who I am and what I have to offer.  As I read the words on the screen, I know how ridiculous they sound, but Meanie can override that sensibility with no problem and reminds me of all her "reasons" that I sit here today alone.  She tells me that all of these men before who have either rejected me or wanted to be "just friends" were on to some character flaw that I haven't noticed yet, and that all of my future attempts will be futile and end in the same result.  So, she continues, why don't you just throw in the towel, be happy with what you have, and become that miserable, old, celibate lady who lives alone and all the kids in the neighborhood are afraid of?

I have to kill Meanie; that's all there is to it.  Or at least shut her up permanently. For too long, I've let her ruin things for me, and it's high time I take matters into my own hands.  I've tried to reason with her; I've tried to tell her that I can't let her win, but she keeps on and on and on.  Her incessant negativity must be stopped for everyone's well being. But, how to do it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Love Letter to All Singletons

September 13, 2010

Dear Singletons (and Marrieds...I'd never leave you out, you lucky dogs):

Instead of my usual rant about some silly online dating email or mishap that occurred over the weekend (Okay, I have to tell you just one, though...I got a random email from a guy on CatholicSingles.com.  I wasn't even aware that my profile was active, and I guess had also forgotten that I had a brief moment of cleverness and spelled out my personal email address at the bottom of my description.  Stupid, desperate girl.  Anyway.  I got an email from a guy who's opening line accused me of being "too cheap to pay for a membership."  Cheap!  Although I'll admit to being financially conscious, I prefer the word "frugal" to imply the description:  "will not drain your bank account if we get married."  Rant complete.), I intend to use this post/letter to (uh-hem) toot my own horn a bit and give you the appreciation and thanks you deserve.

After a little over six months of entering the blogosphere and filling the internet with much-needed dating shenanigans, I'm a different person.  The insights and suggestions from and camaraderie with my fellow Singletons and even Marrieds who have found there way out of all of this silliness has truly changed my view.  I had this narrow concept that I was the only one that was fighting what seemed like a losing battle.  I initially started this blog as simply a way to get all of this stuff out of my head and ended up with a wonderful, daily conversation with friends, new and old, around the globe.  You can't name a country that hasn't had at least one person view this page that you're reading right now.  I'm ridiculously flattered.  The homepage of Lost in Singledom has had over 6,000 hits (most of which started in July, my craziest dating month so far!) and, although that doesn't sound like much in the grand scheme of the internet, it's impressive to this old gal.  I'm not selling you anything; I'm not giving anything away; we're just talking and I love that you've helped me through all this.  Granted, I haven't found the gate to Coupledom yet, but you've definitely made the path in Singledom a little less pot-holey. 

And the word is out!  With my daily declarations of my status, it's becoming cool to be single for the first time in my life!  Friends are messaging me for advice (holy cow...I'm adding them to my prayer list) about online dating, real world dating, people have introduced me to their single male friends (possibly in hopes of getting some blog time, but I digress), and I can't tell you how many people I see who refer to the men I've met by their Lost in Singledom moniker, even if they know their real names!

Yesterday, it hit me.  I got a real dose of how I've become a local poster-child for Singletons.  A friend of mine surprised me with a gift that was so appropriate and so blog-worthy that I have to share:

Who doesn't love a personality-themed coffee mug?  Although, I'm seriously considering adding the word "temporarily" below the print or scribbling in Sharpie "But, I'm happy to lose my mind someday" on the back.  Not only do I love the gift and the statement, but I love that I'm known as a Singleton who isn't afraid to complain gripe whine talk about it online.  Even if I had other visions in mind as a child, I'm more than happy to take this route to Stardom, thanks to you.

Love your #1 fan,
Melanie

P.S. Between me and you, I've actually got some competition out there!  A new blog recently appeared featuring a lot of the same features of Lost in Singledom, even some of the same words/titles.  Can you believe it?  After some coaxing down off the defensive ledge, I was convinced by a dear friend that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

P.P.S. A big thanks to the blogosphere for new friendships and reunions with old friends.  I'm loving every minute of it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Just My Luck

So, throughout the course of my life, I've been a pretty lucky chickadee.  You know, beyond the normal stuff, like being lucky to have a great family (most of the time), a roof over my head, a job...the standards. I am thankful for those things, don't get me wrong, but that's not the kind of luck I'm talking about.

I always doubt those people who hit the jackpot and say "I've never won anything before!" because I've had quite the opposite experience.  Granted, I'm not hiding a closet full of lottery winnings from you because Lord knows, if it existed I would be sitting in a much nicer chair in a much nicer room in a much nicer building on a much nicer computer.  But, I digress.  Looking back, I've won countless things.

There was the time that I won a Bingo grand prize on a cruise; my first attempt at a slot machine that spit out $150 in my lap after only requiring about 3 dimes on my part; scratch off lottery tickets have always been easy (Insider's hint:  always buy the ones with serial numbers less than 100.  Check out the wall of winners at your nearest convenience store, and I guarantee they all start with a zero.); the awards that I've won, the art contests, writing contests and oh, the radio contests.  For about three years, I dominated the radio contests hosted by the local country station in my hometown.  The DJ's recognized my voice.  They knew my address by heart.  I invited them to my high school graduation.  I won an astronomical amount of CDs, concert tickets, trips, and other randomness that I almost felt like I was cheating.  But, I wasn't.  I had a knack for hitting that redial button (remember those?!) with the exact right timing.  (Another insider's hint:  get in at the beginning and you're set.  If the DJ answers and tells you you're caller 4, and they're looking for caller 10, three more tries from you and you've probably got it.  Figure they answer two calls for every one you make. And landlines always work better than cell phones.)  Needless to continuing saying, I have a pretty lucky streak.

But, in the game of love/like/lust/whatever you want to call it, this luck runs aground.  Obviously.  Unless you're new to this blog (if you are, you're welcome to check out my previous posts that reiterate this point!), it's pretty clear that I've swung and missed more times than I've hit home runs.  Over the last few weeks, this has been painfully obvious and as I share these pitfalls with you, I also share them with friends outside of the blogosphere.  Often times, I find myself saying things like "Well, you know my luck..." and lately others have been quoting this as well, much to my dismay, as they learn that I tend to be the one pulling the short end of the stick in the dating competition.  My complaints run the gamut, but mostly they involve not being able to catch and secure a guy's attention for longer than the course of one dinner date.  Well, yesterday I had a physical embodiment of my (clears throat) luck within a few short hours of complaining about how much I'd like a guy to just pay me some PG-13 rated attention.  I should have kept my mouth shut.

My morning commute consists of a ridiculously long drive from an area that just a few short years ago was probably considered "the boonies" compared to Metro Atlanta.  As more and more commuters move to my area, the traffic has become almost unfathomable.  I've seen a lot of crazy things on the road, but most of them included a vehicle of some kind, like the day a tractor trailer sitting in dead-still traffic actually put the thing in reverse and almost pummeled the poor Lincoln Towncar behind him.  But, even that doesn't compare to yesterday. 

As I sat at a light at a busy surface street intersection yesterday, I noticed a very disheveled man standing on the corner three lanes over from me.  He had that "mountain man" look, with a big, curly, overgrown head of hair in need of cutting and an even more impressive beard of the same color.  He was obviously dirty, and his clothes were ragged and almost falling off his body.  He was flailing about and, for a minute, made me nervous that he was going to throw himself in traffic.  Oh no, he had much more shocking endeavors in mind.  He continued his strange bodily movements and started swinging his hands around his face and watching his fingers as if they were some fabulous form of entertainment he'd just discovered.  As he did this, his clothes began to shift and I noticed that his boxer shorts were exposed.  Just as the thought of "Oh, God" passed through my mind, this man reached around the front of his pants, grabbed a handful of the cloth in his crotch and yanked them down as hard as he could, fully exposing himself to the poor victims sitting at the light. 

Shocked, I literally starting yelling in my car, by myself.  I averted my eyes quickly, hoping that 1). no one had seen that I had seen it and 2). no one in the cars around me worked with me.  The light remained aggravatingly red entirely too long, but as soon as it showed a hint of green, I floored it and took off towards the office.

The dating gods heard my laments for PG-13 attention from a man.  I'm just thankful that I didn't say R-rated; I shutter to think what I'd have witnessed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ask the Experts - Response #2

Since I completely lied to you and my bitterness wound has not stopped oozing yet after the 24 hours I asked you to grant me, I decided that a guest post was in order!  Nice Guy has returned, at my request, to answer a question that is about as important and debated as that old "chicken vs. egg" argument.  And you all know how much I love the male perspective.  Enjoy!

Melanie has asked me to discuss male/female friendships and the guy’s point of view.

Ah, the age old question. You would think that after all this time people should know the answer, but it’s probably more complicated then we think. I will admit that this was a much harder topic to write about than I had first thought when Melanie proposed that I try to tackle it. Since obviously I can only look at this from a guy’s perspective, I’ll do my best to explain myself and what goes on in my head when I am hanging out with the opposite sex.

Whoops, I said it. Yeah, a guy thinks about sex. A lot. That shouldn’t be much of a shock, right? I mean, aren’t there episodes of Sex in the City about that? (I honestly wouldn’t know.) Not that I would suggest that we all get our advice from the boob tube. While a well written show can certainly make you think, I don’t believe it is the best idea to get my advice from fictional characters designed to entertain us. But, guys thinking about sex should be pretty obvious to a woman.

Before I go any further, I need to let everyone know that I have female friends. Probably about as many as I do male ones. I don’t play out elaborate fantasies in my head. I feel pretty comfortable around them, and I certainly trust myself to not do anything stupid. I value all of my friendships, and I would not want to jeopardize it because we are obviously friends for a reason. So, I do believe that there can be platonic friendships between men and women. We just shouldn’t be so naive to not realize that there isn't some potential for sexual attraction or tension.

But anyway, back to the sex part.

I really have to be careful how I say this, and I hope I am successful in my intention, because guys don’t get all perv for you. Any heterosexual guy that is around you has at some point thought about something sexual-ish about you. I’m not necessarily talking full on imagine-you-in-the-sack, thinking about sex. It’s more of an appreciation of what physical characteristics you possess. Of course, it can also be more than just the physical. I’ve certainly been attracted to personalities before.

And that’s okay!

If you have not caught on yet, one common theme that I like to reiterate in all of my posts here is that while human instinct and emotional reactions are okay, above all we have evolved with the ability of higher thought. We humans have the capacity to use logic and reason. We weigh pros and cons. And while mistakes will inevitably be made in life, we have to have the maturity to be able to take responsibility for our actions.

I do think that both men and women can get a lot out of a platonic friendship. When men are around other men and there is the rare event we talk about our feelings, most of the time there is a manly punch to the shoulder and the advice to “Man Up”. Which, don’t get me wrong, it can be incredibly helpful advice sometimes. However, most of my relationships that I have with my friends of the female persuasion tend to have a greater degree of collective introspection. I have probably realized more about myself with the help from honest advice of my closest female friends than from any other source. I cherish a few women in my life for that.


-Nice Guy

Like Nice Guy's guest posts?  Check out his own personal blog, Nice Guy Shenanigans.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reason #5,000 I Hate Online Dating

Brace for it, friends...because today's the day that all my "oh, isn't life just grand? I'm working so hard on making myself a better person" sing-songy loveliness goes right out the window and is replaced by bitterness towards all things even remotely resembling the word "dating."  Grant me this one day, and I promise that I will go back to my Oprah/Dr. Phil-like self-help wisdom in, eh, twenty-four hours.  Give me twenty-four hours.

Urgh.  Why am I doing this?  Why do I continue to torture myself with online dating?  Why do I ever expect that it's going to be different "this time around"?  You could insert the word "the ten thousandth" instead of "this" and that sentence would read the same way.  Ridiculous.  Reeeee-diculous.  How do I manage to remain so optimistic about this every time I start over after such dismal and insanely idiotic past experiences?

Are there men who are online dating that take this seriously, or are they all just looking for a texting buddy...or worse? (Remember my promise to keep this blog PG-13 rated in case my mother ever gets a wild hair and decides to read it, but insert your own version of dirtiness for the word "worse.")  Sometimes I get confused and have to check to make sure I didn't mistakenly end up in the "Adult Services" section of Craigslist. 

Here's a brief update (hold on to something steady...the bitterness here might knock you into next week):  Mr. Hangover must not have been at all interested in anything other than my witty pop culture references because he effectively disappeared when I got into a more serious subject that sounded something like "How was your weekend?" 

For real? The one with the one eye?!
Brief introductions to both Mr. Teenager and Mr. Purple.  Don't get too attached though, they're neither long for this Singleton's world.  Mr. Teenager popped up last week, and I have to give him credit.  He sent me an actual email with words that formed a sentence, several of which ended in that elusive online dating grammatical character of a question mark, but...he is still probably a senior in high school so all that stuff is fresh in his mind.  Oh, didn't I mention?  He's eighteen.  Eighteen years old.  As in, still a teenager.  Also as in, just wrapped up puberty...can't drink legally...probably just got excited about buying his first lottery ticket...was born in the 90's...(I remember the 90's, vividly)...the ink is still wet on his drivers licence...have I effectively made my point?  I think so.  Again, he's trying hard.  You can tell by his array of obvious self-portraits all highlighting his (eh-hem) "biceps," several of which include my least favorite male fashion choice:  the wife-beater.  I told him I was flattered by his compliments but felt that I was a bit too old for him, avoiding the obvious flipside of that coin by stating that he was entirely too young for me.  He told me that he hoped I didn't take this the wrong way, but that he'd received several broken hearts by "women" his age (I mean, really? At eighteen, girls have only not had cooties for what, three maybe four years?!) and enjoyed "the company of older, more maturer women." (<-his word.  Obviously not mine.) I don't consider myself maturer, I just consider myself grown.  And consider him not grown.  If talking was his goal (and it is mine at some point), what would we hold conversations about?  The latest episode of Yo Gabba Gabba or Dora the Explorer? I am tempted to write him back and just say:
"You know, I am truly flattered that an 18-year-old so into his body would be interested in me, but I'm having a hard enough time finding one ten years older than you that doesn't act like a child or turn tail and run at the first sign of interest.  I have some girls I used to baby-sit for who'd love to put your pin-ups in their lockers.  I'll forward your number for texting."
Because texting is the story of my life!!!  (insert screaming Macaulay Culkin from "Home Alone".)  Meet Mr. Purple.  (Seriously, I feel like I'm just throwing these guys out there, but I promise they're all real.)  Weird name, huh?  Yeah, that's because he claims that he's the one person in the literal millions on Plentyoffish.com who is not physically able to upload a picture.  "I keep getting error messages," he says.  But somehow he was able to upload a solid purple box in place of the "Ask me for a Photo!" image usually present when one hasn't been uploaded. Could be because you can tell the search function that you're only interested in people with photos.  Clever.  But why purple?  When given the option of the entire color spectrum, why did he choose purple?  And he's named after his strange image because I know nothing else about him.  He emailed me to tell me how beautiful I am (losing it's power quickly...I used to be flabbergasted by such a compliment, but if you've got a dime in online dating, you've got a dozen "beautiful" compliments.  Back it up with actual interest in me, and I love hearing it. Take me out more than once and it might get you somewhere.), and how he kept viewing my profile all weekend trying to come up with something worthy enough to send me (okay...that's new...after my potential stalker thoughts wore off, I was flattered).  Still in his introduction email he said "I know that I'm chubby, but I have a big heart."  I got a big problem with this.  No pun intended.  Don't berate yourself in your introduction email.  Even more so when I can't see a photo.  Remember...we talked about this.  By not posting a photo, I think you're either a science fair project gone bad or hiding from something/someone.  When you tell me you're "chubby" in your introduction and don't have a photo, I'm thinking "low self-esteem" and "Jabba the Hutt."  Let me reiterate, I do not discriminate on the grounds of size, shape, anything.  That would be crazy hypocritical of me.  But, I do have a vivid imagination that usually ends in the No Physical Attraction Zone if you don't prove otherwise.  Oh! I almost forgot the best part.  I gave Mr. Purple the benefit of the doubt (what the hell do I have to lose?) even though he lives way outside of my usual realm of consideration and wrote back, asking what about  my profile caught his attention, hoping it might generate conversation  and included a couple of other questions.  He sent me back his phone number.  To text him.

I'm bound for one of two things:  lifelong carpal tunnel syndrome or entering the sisterhood.  I wonder how long you have to be a member of the Catholic Church before you can become a nun?  Here's a glimpse of the Old, Stupid Optimistic Melanie...maybe my real-world meeting with my Mr. Prince Charming (heck, I'd take Mr. Not as Crazy as the Rest of These Guys right now) is just around the corner, and the dating gods are sparing me the time wasting.  Hmmm (contemplative face).  Here comes that damned optimism again...

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